Director of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit Ronald Chapman is raising alarm that individuals and businesses are becoming too relaxed in their approach to the management of the COVID-19 virus, despite the continued high number of positive cases being recorded.
But while some COVID-19-positive residents continue to leave home isolation to run errands, Chapman says he is generally pleased that “the vast majority” are compliant.
The environmental health official said he was calling on residents to take greater personal responsibility in protecting themselves against the virus by adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
“What is a little disturbing is that we are seeing persons relaxed in terms of mask-wearing, and we are seeing some places which are also relaxing the implementation of the hand sanitizing and this is critical in the fight against COVID-19. We are also seeing overcrowding on public transport again. So those are some things we have issues with,” said Chapman.
For the past few days the island has been recording more than 500 new cases per day. The number of deaths associated with the virus stands at 432.
Chapman’s call for residents to follow the protocols also comes as a number people in popular tourists areas opt not to wear masks and as individuals raise concern about a mismatch in the requirement for entering various party spots and other events. Some organisers are asking that individuals be fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test, while others only ask that patrons wear a mask and social distance.
The unit’s head said that it was impossible for officials to police a crowd at all times, adding that there would always be some who would “drop their mask at some point” and it was for that reason that it was critical for the vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement to be in place to create a “safer space”.
He quickly pointed out however, that this was no excuse for patrons not to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols since they were still able to contract the virus and spread it.
Chapman told Barbados TODAY the monitoring unit continues to stress the need for personal responsibility, while insisting that it was up to the business establishments and event organisers to advise people to follow the protocols.
“People have to take responsibility for themselves. The Ministry of Health cannot do it alone. The COVID-19 Monitoring Unit cannot be there with people every step of the way. People have to make that decision as to who they will have conversations with and whether or not they will have conversations with persons who are not wearing masks. At the end of the day this is the important thing, how are we maintaining those protocols that allow us to mitigate the spread of COVID,” he said.
“If you are vaccinated it doesn’t mean that you cannot catch COVID. What it means is that it reduces your chances of having a negative outcome or having a severe disease. It reduces your ability to pass that COVID along; it reduces that time in which you are highly infectious. So there is value in getting vaccinated,” he added.
Chapman said the unit has been focusing its attention in areas where there is high vulnerability, including at elderly care facilities, schools and nurseries.
In relation to home isolation, he said he was generally pleased that residents were largely adhering to the rules. However, he said there continued to be a few cases where some people who know they have the virus “get up and leave their home”.
“It is for varying reasons. It is not always bad. Sometimes they have to go to the pharmacy because they don’t have someone to do it for them. Sometimes they have to seek medical attention and sometimes it could be as simple as they ran out of food and there is no one at all to go to the supermarket for them. You may find something like that happen,” he explained.
“But for the vast majority of Barbadians, they are still very compliant where that is concerned and I think that spells well for Barbados and our compliance in terms of COVID. Most Barbadians, once they have COVID they do stay at home,” he said.