The Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) has confirmed that one of its employees has tested positive for COVID-19.
And, following a brief work stoppage at the Bridgetown Port this morning due to staff discomfort, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, has given the assurance that all BPI staff will be tested for the virus.
He led a team of officials, including BPI management executives, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Toni Moore; Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best; and Medical Officer of Health for Ports of Entry, Dr. Manohar Singh, to address the workers’ concern, following a meeting.
It was agreed at the meeting that all primary contacts of the affected individual would be tested first, followed by employees with underlying medical conditions. That testing was arranged by the BPI and started today, and will continue into tomorrow, Thursday, January 7.
Minister Humphrey stressed: “Our primary interest remains the safety of our team, and we are offering full support to the affected individual and all other employees.
“At the same time, we recognise the Port’s role as an essential services organisation, and we intend to keep the Port functional, while safeguarding the health of employees.”
The Minister gave the assurance that the Port would continue to “rigorously” follow the guidelines and protocols issued outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to ensure the importation of food, medical supplies and nearly all of the island’s imports continue to flow.
Today’s incident resulted in a closure of the Port to cargo deliveries. However, vessel discharge and load operations resumed at 4:00 p.m. Work in all operational areas will resume tomorrow, from 7:00 a.m. However, the Administration Building, Cube Blue, will remain closed, until further notice.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 protocols at the Port have been intensified, with the mandatory wearing of masks, frequent hand sanitisation and the observance of social distancing protocols.
In a statement, the Port also gave the undertaking that it would continue to enforce minimum contact through the utilisation of online payment platforms at www.barbadosport.com, and electronic systems for manifest transmission and terminal operations management.
In addition, entry into the Port will be by appointment only for cargo collection and any other business. There will also be enhanced security screening to minimise entry and movement of non-essential personnel through the Port.
The statement further noted that the extensive cleaning and sanitisation of all Port facilities and equipment would continue in accordance with recommended guidelines.