Barbados’ decision not to enforce a ban on passengers coming out of China has been made based on evidence, says Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.
He emphasized this on Tuesday as he briefed the media on the outcomes of an emergency meeting of CARICOM Health Ministers held on Monday.
Noting that the question of enforcing a ban arose at the CARICOM meeting, Minister Bostic said: “We have at the moment six territories in the Caribbean that have either fully banned persons from coming out of China or placed a ban on non-nationals, with the intent of quarantining nationals who are coming out of these places. There was some discussion there, and of course, it was agreed that this is more than a health decision. There are other things involved.
“We in Barbados made the determination based on evidence, science, past history, on everything that we have seen happening and evolving over the last several weeks – that we were not going to go that route. But we would follow the WHO (World Health Organization’s) instructions and PAHO’s (Pan American Health Organization’s) not to inhibit trade or travel, but to significantly enhance our regime at the airport in terms of surveillance.”
Commending Barbados’ efforts over the years, he said: “We are confident that, for example, given the layers of screening that have to take place before people get here and our ability to provide this coverage here in Barbados that we can make determinations that they [will] keep this country as safe as possible. And, that is what we have been doing.”
The Health Minister further noted that the efforts by China to contain the virus had been comprehensive and in a sense, China was on quarantine from airlines and other places and therefore this restricted their travel in a significant way.
Mr. Bostic added: “The fact that we do not have a direct flight from China is another layer of coverage in the sense that people coming from China, for example, must go through either Europe or North America, in order to get here. And, those countries are doing a fairly good job in terms of screening. So, that is why we have taken those decisions.
“There have been about a dozen international incidents in terms of public health over the last 50 years or so, and Barbados has never closed its borders not even for Ebola. And, we relied on our people and the competence and collaborative nature of the people who we have at the ports of entry to be able to keep the country safe and we are confident with that.”