As Government continues to work towards reopening the country to commercial air traffic in the COVID-19 environment, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has reiterated that “safe protocols” are guiding the process, not a specific date.
She made the comments over the weekend as she addressed the diaspora during the We Gatherin’ 2020 – The Online Edition forum.
She noted that health, tourism and labour officials, as well as owners of hotels and tourism attractions were busy working on the protocols.
Ms. Mottley told her audience that Barbadians understood that risks would have to be managed to allow the country to reopen fully.
“There are some countries where the risk is clearly lower than others, and we are also trying to put the protocols in place for testing and health screening and all of the temperature checks; all of the things that would matter, in order to get people comfortable and that when they come to Barbados, they are not only coming to a place that is safe, but that they themselves will remain safe during the period of stay here,” she stated.
The Prime Minister added that she should be in a position to address the country on the matter shortly.
She noted that because of the virus, it has been a particularly rough time for Barbadians living in the diaspora, especially those in the USA, UK and Canada. She urged them to be safe and reminded them that “home is here” and they could visit whenever they were ready.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, said the strength of Barbados’ response to the disease had been containment, as well as detection by proper surveillance at the airport.
He stressed that the country was far better prepared today than before it had its first case.
Lt. Colonel Bostic stated that Barbados has a very good public health staff. He asserted that the public health system in Barbados was far better than several other countries.
“The strength of our public health, which has been built up over the years, gives us the capacity and the ability to be able to deal with whatever is coming …. We believe going forward that even with contact tracing now, that we have to use whatever digital platforms that are available to help us to manage this process. But we believe that containing and being able to determine exactly when it is likely that we may be overrun [is necessary], so that … we can escalate the response.
“But we recognize that we cannot stop it; it is something we have to live with; we are not going to allow it to paralyze us, we have to live with it. We have to balance it, as the Prime Minister has been saying, because the very health care system in Barbados would be severely impacted if we are not able to open up and generate economic activity in the country,” the Minister indicated.
He said the authorities were confident that there were more facilities now than before. “We have expanded testing considerably, so that we have now over 7,000 tests completed. We have a lot more testing kits, extraction kits, swabs and everything that we require,” he stressed.
The Health Minister pointed out that they were managing the process with regard to the virus and necessary things were being put in place.
He added that they were “kind of taking it a little slowly” because they recognized the importance of doing things right.
Former Director of PAHO, Barbadian Sir George Alleyne, said over the years the country had established resilient health systems, which could respond before, during and after a crisis.
Sir George added that Barbados is well known for its public health staff, not only doctors, but public health nurses, who have been remarkable over the years.
“In terms of what Barbados has done and the tactics you have adopted [during COVID-19], I would give you very, very, very high marks indeed,” he stated.
He urged Government to pay attention to those problems in children and adolescents which could cause them to develop non-communicable diseases.