Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde (left) welcoming staff members of the NAB back to work today. Second from left is NAB Director, Charyn Wilson. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, this morning welcomed the staff of the National Assistance Board back to headquarters after they exited quarantine for COVID-19 with “clean bills of health”.

The staff members, who returned today, are those who tested negative for the viral illness and were placed in 14 days’ quarantine at local hotels, along with the other members of their households.

The seven staff members who tested positive remain on sick leave. Six of them have been released from isolation after two consecutive negative tests for COVID-19, and they are continuing their recovery at home.  One person remains in isolation.

Minister Forde noted that the experience had been a traumatic one for the staff, and she warned the public against stigmatizing the workers because of what they endured.

“And so I want the rest of Barbados and the world to know how much we value the contribution of these hardworking, dedicated members of staff here, who do not only look after their own families, but they go out into the trenches and into the households and communities across the length and breadth of Barbados to be able to bring service and care, particularly to our elderly folk.”

She said that the NAB served more than 1,100 clients, and included within its senior citizens’ clientele are 200 persons who are entirely dependent on its services because there are no family members or other support systems to care for them.

She praised “the strength, the resilience and the camaraderie” of the staff, and also had high praise for the healthcare workers who ensured that they received the quality care necessary to enable them to return to work, to service those who rely on them every day.          

Minister Forde shared that six former members of the St. Thomas community in which she grew up had lost their lives to COVID-19 in the United States, and this had impacted the entire parish.

“We grew up together; we worked together; we worshipped together and so I want to advise all Barbadians do not let your guard down. Whether it be on the street, in the buses or whatever form of transport you’re using, whether you are going around in the workplace, take nothing for granted.”

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