COVID-19 Update and press conference – Jan. 29, 2022. (PMO)

In-house dining at restaurants will resume when the new COVID-19 Emergency Management Directive comes into effect.  The current directive will expire on Monday, January 31.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Ian Gooding-Edghill, made the disclosure during a press conference which served the dual purpose of updating the public on COVID-19 and introducing the new Minister who succeeds Lieutenant Colonel The Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic.

Mr. Gooding-Edghill further explained that in-house restaurant dining would be the only change to the new directive, which will last for two weeks.  Establishments are expected to have all infection prevention controls in place, he noted.

In thanking Mr. Bostic for his “sterling leadership” of the Ministry and the pandemic, Mr. Gooding-Edghill stated that he planned to build on the “strengths and good work” of his predecessor, supported by the experience and expertise of the professionals within the ministry, as well as Minister of State with responsibility for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Dr. Sonia Browne.  

He added that he would also benefit from the guidance of the Senior Minister, Senator Dr. The Most Honourable Jerome Walcott.

The Health Minister pointed out that Government had experienced “relative success” managing the pandemic by implementing preventative and protective strategies, such as testing, social distancing, mask mandates and vaccination.

“At this half-way point in the Omicron surge, the Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to focus on expanding our laboratory capacity, self, home and institutional isolation, non-pharmacological measures for infection prevention and control and the promotion of the National Vaccine Programme. We believe, based on current internationally accepted science, boosters offer the best opportunity for reducing severe infections, hospitalisations, and saving precious lives. And, we are in the fortunate position in being able to provide such boosters to the Barbadian public,” Gooding-Edghill stated.

He added that while Barbados had, unfortunately, lost 278 lives, to date, due to COVID-19 – a case fatality average of 0.9 – the death rate was still lower than that of all small island developing states, which is currently at 1.5 per cent, while the global average stands at 2.2 percent.

Going forward, the Health Minister said home isolation and home quarantine would continue to play a critical role in managing the pandemic, with emphasis placed on managing ill persons, and those at risk for severe outcomes, such as the elderly, and persons with non-communicable diseases.

He also assured members of the public that he would continue the ministry’s agenda for non-COVID health care in areas such as mental health reform, NCDs, climate change, and by enhancing primary health care delivery, environmental health and vector control.

Mr. Gooding-Edghill said he would also place emphasis on promoting policies and programmes to support healthy lifestyles and on improving operations at polyclinics, as well as at the Psychiatric, Geriatric and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals.

“My approach to my new duties as Minister of Health and Wellness will be influenced by the management techniques and commercial skills gained from the private sector, from which I came to Government. These factors went a long way in helping me bring about improvements enjoyed by the public in my previous assignment as Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources,” he stated.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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