New protocols will be in place at hurricane shelters across Barbados to protect persons seeking refuge against the COVID-19 virus should the need arise.
Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Anton Best, outlined some of these measures during a press conference to mark the start of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season in the General Post Office conference room yesterday.
“Shelter management is going to have a slightly different twist, because of COVID-19. We factored in COVID-19 in terms of the management of the shelters,” he explained.
As a result, persons seeking refuge at hurricane shelters will have to register upon entry. That registration process will involve health screening where persons will be asked if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.
Those symptoms, he said, include shortness of breath, cough, upper respiratory tract symptoms and fever, along with some of the other unusual symptoms associated with the virus.
“You will also have [your] temperature taken to determine if you are possibly suffering from COVID-19. And so, you have the history, and then that assessment as far as the registration process,” Dr. Best pointed out.
He gave the assurance that persons who are ill will be placed in isolation at the shelters, in accordance with the standard practice in shelter management.
“Persons who are ill for whatever reason are usually isolated in the event that its illness due to something that is contagious, and certainly in a COVID environment, that is something that is going to be high on the list, in terms of differential diagnosis,” he stated.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer added that physical distancing was also factored into the capacity of shelters, and consideration was being given to keeping persons or families apart within the shelters.
Dr. Best told those present that other key strategies in fighting the virus such ashand and respiratory hygiene must also be maintained and practiced within the shelters.
In addition, all persons entering shelters must wear a fabric mask covering their faces, and have a change of mask, along with hand sanitizer.
Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs, Edmund Hinkson, said discussions between the Department of Emergency Management, the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, were ongoing to ensure that all aspects were covered.