Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s address to the nation – January 26, 2021. (PMO)

 The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed that the United Kingdom’s (UK) COVID-19 variant is present in Barbados.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley confirmed the presence of the UK variant in Barbados, during an address to the nation from Ilaro Court tonight.

“I regret, therefore, to inform you that we have also now, in addition to community spread, been informed that there are traces of the new COVID variant in tests conducted on the island, as well,” she said.

Ms. Mottley explained that Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, had previously indicated that samples were sent to the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago, and on Tuesday, January 26, the lab confirmed that three out of the 10 samples sent were positive for the UK variant of COVID-19.

She noted that Barbados was not the only country to confirm the UK variant.  “We are only now one of several Caribbean islands and several countries across the world that now has this variant. Some may say its spread and impact was inevitable, others may say otherwise. The fact of the matter is, we’re at the point now where we believe we have to act, and act decisively.”

Going forward, the Prime Minister stressed that Government would continue to focus on what was necessary in order to manage and mitigate risk associated with COVID-19.  She said: “We’ve always used the principle of brakes and accelerator, brakes and gas, and we continue to use that because we have to monitor and measure risk….

“From the time we got community spread, and that we know now today that we have the variant, it imposes on us a greater responsibility to manage that risk more effectively and equally for us to minimise the objectives. To minimise the chance of people catching the worst aspect of it by having to go into ICU, or regrettably, passing away.”

She added that part of managing that risk is the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine. Ms. Mottley shared that the Government had reached out to other countries, including India, to procure the COVID-19 vaccine. “I wrote to Prime Minister Modi from India, but I’ve also been in deep conversation with many others out there….

“The conversations with the Indian government are promising. I say no more at this stage, but have every assurance that we will come back to you with details as soon as we are in a position to give full and greater details on that and other sources from which we are seeking to procure it. We are confident that we will get it. We are confident that we will be able to get as many available for Barbadians as possible.”

Prime Minister Mottley pointed out that the main objective of Government is to save lives, and to minimise serious illness to all persons who live on the island, as well as those who will visit Barbados. She said that way, Barbados can have safe people doing safe work in a safe country.

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