Travellers to Barbados who are unable to receive a COVID-19 test in their country may do so on arrival in Barbados, where the test “is of a certain quality”.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stressed this today while responding to the question why negative COVID-19 tests are not mandatory for persons travelling to Barbados, during a press conference at Ilaro Court.
She declared: “We strongly encourage people to test, but … part of the difficulty is people’s ability to access tests within a certain time frame.”
Prime Minister Mottley further explained that in a recent conversation with the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, in which they discussed the possibility of Barbados establishing a testing facility in New York to enable travellers to be tested within a certain time frame before getting on a plane, that this was not feasible.
“Governor Cuomo made it clear that the ability for labs in the US to be able to give people test results back within 72 hours is severely compromised. And at that time, national labs were taking six and seven days to give back people results,” she stated.
Ms Mottley added that even if a test could be conducted 24 hours prior to travel, “there would be a risk for the 24 hours, and that is why our team here, and I want to commend them for it, strongly recommended that the Government of Barbados, for high risk countries, will test within seven days of arrival to Barbados”.
She explained that there was a period of risk between the time of being tested and arriving in Barbados. “We recognise that the incubation period of two to six days may mean that even if you have a negative result, you can have a positive within two to six days of your exposure.”
The Prime Minister also revealed that the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the global airline body, was part of her discussion with Governor Cuomo, and it was noted that IATA is not testing and taking responsibility for testing, and this is not specific to Barbados and the Caribbean, but on a global scale.
“We came to the conclusion that if there are deficiencies on that side of the equation before people come here, let us correct the deficiencies on our side of the equation, when people land here. We don’t have control over there, but we have control on this side,” Ms. Mottley stated.
Speaking on the issue of rapid testing, the Prime Minister pointed out that Manager of the Isolation Facility at Harrison’s Point, Dr. Corey Forde, informed her that Barbados has not had enough exposure in the population for antibody tests to make any difference.
So, for now, the Government is not considering the use of these tests. However, Ms. Mottley indicated that further discussion on the possible use of rapid antibody testing and antigen tests will continue.