COVID-19 update and press conference – February 15, 2021. (PMO)

Government will not give up in its quest to fight COVID-19, despite the myriad challenges and obstacles confronting the health care system.

This was the clear message sent by Health Minister Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, during today’s press conference.

Minister Bostic reminded Barbadians that he had earlier indicated that once the island reached the level of community spread, and given the 200 cases recorded recently, more cases could be expected to follow. 

He added: “I would have also said to you that even though we were at a stage of community spread or community transition that this did not, and it still does not mean that it is not reversible.”

Acknowledging that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had been working very hard daily to ensure the reversal, he gave a situational report on the work of the Ministry from February 3 to 14.

He pointed out that the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory received a total of 8,395 samples; conducted 6,560 tests, and out of this number, there were 628 positives.

Lt. Col. Bostic also praised the Shape App being used by most testing sites, and from which real time information was recorded.

“I would have also said to you that even though we were at a stage of community spread or community transition that this did not, and it still does not mean that it is not reversible.”

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic

“Out of the 567 of positive cases given by the Shape App, 401 of those cases we were able to attribute to contact tracing and they were actually primary contacts. So, 70 per cent of the positive cases between the period February 3 and 14 resulted from contact tracing and primary contacts. And this is important …. I know sometimes when we give results and you see a figure like yesterday (207 positive cases), that may be startling to the average person.

“But those results would have been an accumulation of samples over a period of time, and the results were given when those samples were tested. And, as far back as February 1, we would have been receiving some of those samples. So that yesterday, we would have had 1,222 tests completed with 207 positives, but of those positives, 111 would have been during the period February 1 to 7, 2021, or the first week of February. And, this is because we have been experiencing some issues again in the laboratory, as we have explained on several occasions,” he explained.

As he identified some of the issues and challenges, Minister Bostic stressed Barbados was not the only country experiencing difficulties, including those related to the sourcing of equipment.  

He noted that the lab was on “pause a bit” because it ran out the reagent for the automated processing of test results, but he stated that this was not because Government had been negligent.

Health Minister Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic speaking during today’s press conference at Ilaro Court. (PMO)

He said: “In fact, we would have ordered these kits in September last year as well as October last year, but up to now we have not been able to receive or obtain those kits and that is after several telephone calls; this is just the way things are in terms of the shipping routes and supply chains as a result of COVID.”

Though registering his disappointment, Lt. Col. Bostic relayed that despite this, his Ministry did not sit back waiting on those supplies, but took action.

“We have checked with other sources, other countries, private sector contacts and others and I can tell you that we even had a person in the US who sourced some things for us and when we thought we would get them, there was an intervention that did not allow those supplies to come to us. The last thing we did, and we were certain we would get the reagents, and they did arrive.

“I remember waiting up until 2:30 the morning because I wanted to hear that they had arrived in the lab, and once again we were disappointed because the reagents comprised five different solutions/bottles and when they were opened in the lab, there was one solution called a binding solution that was missing from all of the boxes and so the lab was unable to use those reagents. Thankfully, there was one bottle of that reagent left in the lab and that is why for over the period of about two or three days we were able to do about 4,000 tests using that one bottle.”

Further outlining the desire not to surrender Minister Bostic said other sources were tried and Barbados could expect a few of these reagents today, with the assistance of the Regional Security System, which was on a mission back from Guyana to bring some of the binding solutions.

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