Prime Minister’s address to the nation – December 31, 2020. (PMO)

Barbados has recorded 10 new positive cases and of those 10, five are of concern to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, speaking during an address to the nation at Ilaro Court today, stressed that: “the five cases suggest that there is some local transmission and I repeat local transmission; there is no community spread in Barbados at this point in time”.

Minister Bostic stated: “These cases are of concern to us, because these are cases that we cannot link at this time to persons who had travelled recently.” In addition, the Health Minister revealed that out of the five cases, there are two that are receiving greater attention. 

“That is because…two of the cases are actually officers of the Barbados Prison Service. And the Ministry of Health and Wellness is engaging at this point in time with prison authorities and we will be launching a massive campaign at the prison intended to test every single person who works at the prison in Barbados over the next 48 hours, and that is inclusive of prisoners, prison wardens and also civilian staff.”

Minister Bostic gave the assurance that the Ministry would continue to allocate resources as needed to investigate the other three cases.

“So, all five cases will be under active investigation.  And we intend to bring this matter to some sort of clarity, once we have all of the facts available,” he said.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who also addressed the nation, said that the circumstances at the HMP Dodds was clearly more complex due to the potential transfer of COVID-19 within the prison system. 

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, speaking at today’s press conference at Ilaro Court, said five of the ten new positive COVID-19 cases are being investigated by his ministry. (PMO)

She stated: “I am therefore in full agreement with the approach by the Ministry of Health that will allow all persons, at the prison to be tested whether they are prisoner, prison officer, [and] civilian staff to be tested within the next 48 hours, and thereafter, to be tested again five days later to remove from us any possibility of any difficulties with respect to the contagion of this virus in Barbados.”

Prime Minister Mottley in reference to persons who live in houses with prison officers advised those persons to “just relax yourself for the few days and don’t mix; don’t go about mixing”.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, in reporting on the five cases under active investigation, disclosed that they were a 37-year-old male of a Christ Church address, a 28-year-old male of a St. James address, a 43-year-old female of a St. Thomas address, an 18-year-old male of a Christ Church address and a 43-year- old male of a St. James address. 

“Three of the five have minor symptoms that suggested that they were infected with COVID, but as we indicated, none of them had a travel history,” Dr. George stated.

He added that contact tracing had started and all measures put in place to ensure that every individual associated with each case would be tested. 

The Acting Chief Medical Officer stressed that the Ministry had previously dealt with similar situations, and assured the public that the Ministry had the necessary resources to conduct its contact tracing. He appealed to the public to cooperate with public health officials in their investigations.

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