COVID-19 update featuring Cabinet Sub-Committee Chairman, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott; Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic; Attorney General, Dale Marshall; and acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George. (PMO)

In light of the increase in COVID-19 cases, Government has been working to ensure that the island is prepared to handle the situation as it evolves.

During a televised press conference to update the country, this evening, Chairman of Cabinet’s COVID-19 Sub-Committee, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, noted that a number of measures had been put in place, in this regard.

He said while the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory had adequate testing materials, officials had made sure that additional items were secured.

“I’m pleased to report that we have certainly 50,000 to 60,000 swabs available. We have over 100,000 rapid test PCR kits available, and we have some on order.… The lab has additional staff; there’s certainly no backlog at this stage,” he disclosed.

As it relates to bed space, Senator Walcott explained that while the Harrison Point isolation facility in St. Lucy was outfitted to accommodate 200 beds, authorities were working to ensure that there were prepared for any eventuality.

“We have made provision for an additional 30 persons, and we have adequate beds. At this point in time, because of the evolving nature of the process, we will obviously look at other areas where persons can be accommodated, for example the Blackman-Gollop Primary School, which was used in March last year,” he stated.

The Chairman of Cabinet’s COVID-19 Sub-Committee further revealed that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was also prepared through its COVID-19 Response Plan, established last March.

He also spoke about the ongoing contact tracing exercise. According to Senator Walcott, it was “quite successful” so far. He noted that over 600 persons had visited the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic today for testing.

This followed the January 1 public appeal by health officials for persons to come forward to be tested in light of an increase in cases linked to a “super spreader event” – a bus crawl held on December 26, 2020.

Meanwhile, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, pointed out that 10 telephone lines had been added to the COVID-19 hotline to make it easier for persons seeking assistance.

“We have bolstered our staff at the hotline, so Barbadians and visitors alike, who feel they may [have been] in contact with an individual who was a positive case, can seek medical attention and be treated,” Dr. George stated.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer also emphasised the need to adhere to the advice of healthcare professionals, stating that the wearing of masks, the practising of social distancing, and proper hand washing were “absolutely critical” in containing the spread of COVID-19.

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