COVID-19 update and press conference – February 4, 2021. (PMO)

A total of 360 student volunteers from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, who are being supervised by personnel from the Barbados Defence Force, have started “Operation Seek and Save”.

Head of the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Dion Greenidge, gave some details on the exercise, which began on Wednesday, February 3, during a COVID-19 update and press conference yesterday.

Dr. Greenidge reported: “So far, we have covered 3,236 households across Barbados and that is within all constituencies across Barbados…. There have been no incidents from the field.  In fact, the response in the field has been very, … very good at this point in time.”

He added that the “seek and save” exercise is expected to “cover every household and available residence within the 30 constituencies across Barbados within the next 11 to 12 days”.

Before the student volunteers started the data collection process, they participated in a number of activities to prepare them for working in the field. 

Dr. Greenidge said the training involved “ethics, how to treat data confidentially [and] how to operate safely in the field from a health perspective”.

The Head of the Department of Management Studies highlighted that the system being used to collect and analyse the data from the COVID-19 Community Evaluation Survey was developed and designed by MSc. business graduate students, in association with UWI’s Information Technology Centre at the Cave Hill Campus.

On Wednesday, the student volunteers, who were wearing UWI branded t-shirts and carrying photo IDs provided by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, were able to familiarise themselves with the areas they would be working in, and yesterday began their first official day in the field collecting data. 

Dr. Greenidge pointed out that the volunteers would be conducting themselves in a friendly and approachable manner, and completing the survey was not compulsory. 

“This is voluntary. Persons have a right not to give us information; we are not there to be intrusive, and if persons don’t give us information, if persons say they do not want to respond to a particular question, they move on to the next question. If they say I don’t want to respond to the questionnaire, we move on to the next household,” he stated.

Dr. Greenidge also clarified that the student volunteers would not be involved in the swabbing or testing of individuals. He said this would be done by officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

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