COVID-19 update with Head of the Health Communications Team, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson. (PMO)

Health authorities are “cautiously optimistic” that they will be able to bring the COVID-19 outbreak in Barbados under control.

Speaking during a press briefing on the COVID-19 state of affairs, last night, Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anton Best, said while the daily number of cases was fluctuating, overall they were declining.

He pointed out that the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory conducted just under 4,000 tests in the last 11 days. He said while there were 70 positive cases on Saturday, only six were recorded on Sunday.

Currently in isolation there are 478 persons, while 399 have been discharged since the pandemic started.

The Senior Medical Officer said 18 per cent of staff members at Her Majesty’s Prisons, Dodds were diagnosed with COVID-19 so far, while 22 per cent of inmates have tested positive for the viral illness.

“Associated with this cluster in the prison are 42 cases outside in the community. We also talked about the bus crawl, which is affiliated with the prison. And, we have diagnosed 16 persons within this particular cluster.

“We have other clusters that we’ve talked about. We have the West Coast clusters and the reason why I say ‘clusters’ is because it’s not one discrete cluster. It’s not one large cluster and it did not occur as a distinct event on a particular day, like the bus crawl cluster. And, we currently have 67 persons in that cluster. Those clusters are associated with approximately six places on the West Coast. We also have a South Coast cluster, which is a small cluster but certainly four cases, that we’ve linked to each other. And then, we have many other small clusters that we have not fully delineated,” he shared.

Dr. Best noted that vigorous contact tracing was occupying the time, effort and energy of staff at the island’s polyclinics.  

He added that while they had made significant headway, there was still more contact tracing which needed to be done to isolate any new cases.

He said a number of elements created the “perfect storm”, which led to the situation now confronting public health officials.

“So, how did we get here?  A number of factors led to this …. We had increased tourist arrivals during the winter season and especially ahead of the Christmas or festive season. We had increase socialising during the Christmas holidays. And we have to admit that a lot of us in Barbados dropped our guard and not doing all of the things that we were supposed to have been doing.

“And then, of course, with the initial outbreak of cases, we had a lot of persons panicking and go into testing facilities to be tested. Because they may have heard that persons that they knew or places that they went were associated with the COVID outbreak. And, while we want people to come forward and get tested, we did not anticipate the numbers coming forward. So, that really overwhelmed the system and put us into what I describe as a perfect storm, and a situation that we are trying to get ourselves out of,” Dr. Best stated.

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