La Soufrière Emergency Update (Barbados) – April 11, 2021. (PMO)

Asthmatics and persons with other respiratory illnesses are being urged to take protective measures against the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano, which is currently impacting Barbados.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, explained that such individuals, along with those who suffer from eye allergies, acute sinusitis or sinus problems, should avoid direct contact with the chemicals and irritants that are found in ash plumes.

He was speaking during an update this afternoon on the La Soufriere emergency.

Dr. George further advised that these persons should stay indoors and keep their windows and doors closed for as long as the ash fall persists, as well as keep any preventative medications close to hand.

For those who must traverse outside, the Chief Medical Officer offered further guidance on how they could safeguard themselves.

“Please use long-sleeved clothing. You may have to put on goggles, particularly when the ash fall is dense. Please use your mask; we are in a COVID situation, so please remember that this is also foremost in our thoughts, and follow the directions of public health officials. I endorse what the Prime Minister said, Government Information Service, public health officials and the Barbados Meteorological Services, those are the types of agencies that will provide good and credible information,” he emphasised.

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Dr. George also pointed out that while there were chronic effects associated with exposure to volcanic ash, this usually occurred after significant exposure over a period of weeks or months.

“For Barbadians, it will really be acute disease, but for persons who are within the zone [in St. Vincent], and I think that’s why persons needed to clear the immediate zone around the volcano, if they’re exposed for long periods they can have chronic lung disease and that is well described in literature,” he stated.

The Chief Medical Officer added that the heavy ash fall experienced in St. Lucy on Saturday did not significantly affect the island’s main isolation facility at Harrison Point.  

He disclosed that after an inspection by Manager of Isolation Facilities, Dr. Corey Forde, it was determined that there was no need to relocate patients out of either tertiary or primary isolation. Dr. George noted that staff there was managing “as best as possible in the situation”.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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