COVID-19 update and press conference – January 12th, 2021. (PMO)

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, tonight gave a breakdown of a number of COVID-19 clusters on which public health officials have been focusing their contact tracing efforts.

The clusters, said the Health Minister, include the outbreak at Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds, clusters on the West and South Coasts of the island, and the one associated with the bus crawl on Boxing Day, last year.

Giving further details, Lt. Col. Bostic explained that there are 86 positive cases that officials have identified from the West Coast cluster. Two persons, he pointed out, have been linked to 25 of these positive cases.

Also linked to this cluster is a bar with 27 positive cases; a Paradise Beach Lime, which has 18 associated positive cases; two restaurants with 11 and five cases, respectively; a catamaran cruise with seven positive cases; two hotels, one with six cases and the other with five; and other businesses, which account for approximately 33 positive persons.

Additionally, Minister Bostic said three persons from “a church in the north” have also tested positive, but contact tracing investigations revealed they were also linked to the cluster on the West Coast.

The other clusters he supplied figures for were the bus crawl cluster, which he said remained at 16 positive persons, and a South Coast cluster with four positive cases.

He added that up to yesterday, there were 253 primary contacts, which were being investigated by the Ministry’s contact tracing teams.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic updating the public on COVID-19 cases during a press conference at Ilaro Court today. (PMO)

The Health Minister, however, urged Barbadians not to be alarmed at the numbers coming out of contact tracing.

“I just want to say that I know that when people hear large numbers, especially in Barbados, when we are not accustomed to having large numbers, they probably say ‘wuh loss’ to use a Barbadian parlance. I must tell you that I had my ‘wuh loss’ moment too. But that moment happened when, in the space of two days, we had 200 and something cases and I said ‘wuh loss’.

“But then I came to grips with the situation, and I no longer say that because we must understand that, having started with 200 cases or so in two days, with contact tracing and doing the work that is required, there will be cases and I am not going to sit here and fool you, we will have cases. But this has to happen as long as we are doing the contact tracing, and as long as we are doing what is required in order to contain the situation.”

While praising the job the “tracers” were doing on the ground, Lt. Col. Bostic emphasised that contact tracing was not just about finding an index case or “patient zero”.  

He explained that finding the primary contacts was crucial to containing the spread of the viral illness.

“This is really germane to the effort to contain the situation, so that we can get back to some degree of normalcy that we enjoyed for nine or 10 months.  We were doing very well until we reached this obstacle, but it’s an obstacle that we can overcome,” he maintained.

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