The Democratic Labour Party is making a case for a return to house-to-house testing of residents to counter the rapid spread of coronavirus infections.
Spokesman on health for the DLP Andre Worrell has suggested the introduction of a mechanism similar to Operation Seek and Save which was effective earlier this year in helping to identify positive cases across the island.
“The DLP’s suggestion would be…the same way that earlier this year you had the house-to-house programme, the Seek and Save programme, now you need to have persons going into the communities with the rapid antigen tests, especially in areas that you have identified as hot spots and offering those tests to persons,” said Worrell, who is also the party’s vice president.
The DLP health spokesman said making those tests available to householders should be done with the appropriate guidelines when one considers that the rapid test is not a one-off thing, but must be repeated over a few days in order to get an accurate assessment especially for asymptomatic individuals.
“If persons have symptoms make those tests available to them immediately. You should be able to possibly get a reasonable kit from pharmacies to take the test or you can arrange to get the kit from the polyclinics. Anyone who suspects that they may have come into contact with a COVID-related case can easily test themselves,” Worrell stated.
The DLP vice president said that if the result is positive, the patient should share that information with the health authorities so the person can be quickly collected for isolation and compile a full list of all their contacts for contact tracing.
“That is possibly a good way of being able to bring down the numbers within four to six weeks so that we can possibly have a Christmas period with fewer restrictions. I think that is what most Barbadians would like to see happening, that you have fewer restrictions for Christmas that you can go and shop properly and also spend time with your family and don’t have to be worrying about these deaths that you are hearing now in multiple figures every single day,” the DLP senior official reasoned.
Asked if the safe zones initiative announced Monday by Prime Minister Mia Mottley is a step in the right direction, Worrell replied: “Coming out of the community spread, yes, the safe zones is a good thing. Right now, 300 cases a day is overbearing.
“We need to get back down to a level of under 100 cases a day and we can definitely remove a number of the restrictions that people can get back to living normal lives. And then the safe zones would come into place there, where that would be a good opportunity to have the safe zones in terms of if you want to go to a particular fete, you must show your vaccination card or anything of that nature.”
He added: “What we should be aiming for, is being able to live in Barbados where, yes, you will have COVID numbers, but not in the hundreds on a daily basis.”
The DLP spokesman also offered another suggestion for how the country could reduce its spiralling cases of the disease.
“If you go back down to figures like 20 to 30 positive cases and increase the surveillance at the borders where you are capturing the majority of cases coming in, where then we can basically be able to remove the curfew so that persons who have lost jobs because they have not been able to work night and 24 hours that we can get back to that stage,” Worrell argued.
He agreed with the Prime Minister Mottley pronouncement that it was time people took personal responsibility for their health and safety, particularly in this COVID climate.
But while the Mia Mottley administration intensifies its vaccination drive aimed at allowing the government to ease current public health protocols, the senior official of the former ruling party believes that time is not on the side of the authorities.
“Even if everybody in Barbados becomes vaccinated now, it would take about six to eight weeks before they are fully vaccinated and before it becomes effective. We don’t necessarily have six to eight weeks to allow the virus to continue to spread in the country without any sort of mechanism to control and pull back the spread,” the DLP vice president contended.
Even though Worrell is encouraging all workers in high-risk employment to take the vaccine, he is adamant that the choice should be theirs and that in any case, education and not coercion are preferred.
On Monday Prime Minister Mottley told a virtual press conference that the mobile vaccination team was being revived under the leadership of Dr Hilary Moore assisted by private doctors.
Mottley said that separate from the mobile pop-up clinics spearheaded by National Vaccination Coordinators Major David Clarke and Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, a mechanism similar to Operation Seek and Save will return where personnel will go into homes to administer the vaccine.
Special telephone lines, she said, would also be set up to accommodate householders who do not want to leave their homes or are unable to do so.
Mottley also announced that there will also be dedicated lines at three clinics to expedite the administering of the vaccine for over 70s, persons with chronic non-communicable diseases and out-patients of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the polyclinics.
She identified the clinics as those at Alexandra School in St Peter, Princess Margaret Secondary School in St Philip and the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic in Warrens, St Michael.