Government is working to safeguard the vulnerable against the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was made clear on Friday night by the COVID-19 Czar, Richard Carter, during the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation’s News Night Special on COVID-19.
Pointing out that a lot was “going on behind the scenes” as part of Government’s attempt to “manage the epidemic”, Mr. Carter reminded Barbadians that during the Prime Minister’s wrap up comments on the estimates, she had announced a range of measures that were intended to support the most vulnerable in society.
“So, there were, for example, the introduction of a 40% increase in the rates that are going to be paid by the Welfare Department – the 1,500 most vulnerable families are going to be identified through a scientific process led by the Welfare Department and the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs.
“And those 1,500 families will receive $600 per month to support them in these particular times when the challenges that they may face in terms of their own maintenance may be greater than they can manage,” he stated.
The COVID-19 Czar also noted that there was the Adopt A Family Programme, and stressed that Barbadians of high net worth or above average net worth were encouraged to contribute to the initiative that would allow further support to those families that may be vulnerable.
Adding that there was going to be the distribution of care packages to 3,000 vulnerable families in Barbados to also support them, he said: “Because we’ve constantly and consistently made the point that the resilience of the country, the safety and security of the country extends only so far as the least resilient or the most vulnerable among us. And if we do not extend the hand to protect those persons, we are at the same time removing that hand of comfort and support that will protect us.”
The COVID-19 Czar, while commenting on the illness and its impact on the elderly in other countries, including abandonment and death, explained why Government was focused on a programme aimed at looking after its senior population.
“We’ve seen very tragic situations where governments and states have had to make the decision as to who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t, simply because the healthcare system has been overwhelmed. We’ve seen situations in Spain, I believe, where elderly persons were found dead in their beds; abandoned as a consequence of the fear and so on that persons have witnessed, which is one of the reasons why we have actually embarked on a programme. And, this is an additional thing that will be rolled out to support persons who are 70 years and older.”
Mr. Carter disclosed that public service officers would be contacting persons 70 years and over with a view to identifying whether or not they had adequate levels of support in accessing groceries and medication.
He said: “By all means, we have made the call consistently to try to restrict the exposure of that population to engagement with the public. So, I’m saying I’m using this medium to basically say, expect a call from an official identifying themselves clearly as a representative, as an officer of the government, inquiring about your capacity to exercise the level of independent living that is required over the two weeks, and if not, to offer the support of the government in terms of meeting the requirements of getting groceries, getting medication and so on.”