Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, has made it clear that he would not be tolerating any disregard for the protocols put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 in Barbados.
He was speaking yesterday during a press conference at Ilaro Court to give an update about plans for the management of COVID-19 in Barbados for the rest of the holiday season.
Lt. Col. Bostic noted that Government would be tightening up on the hotel sector and warned that greater sanctions could be coming for those who continued to flout the law by not strictly observing those protocols.
“We’ve had some breaches from quarantine. We’ve taken swift action to correct those and we are satisfied that we have that, at this point, those breaches under control. But I want to say, beyond the shadow of a doubt that the time for speaking is over. And for those entities that breach, or continue to breach the protocol we are going to take action and that action, I can tell you, is in progress as I speak because we are investigating a few matters, not related to people leaving quarantine, but to breaches of protocol within some of our hotels, and action is being taken and will continue to be taken, until we are able to see the desired results,” he stated.
The Health Minister also shared that measures had been instituted to ensure that persons could have their COVID-19 test results returned as quickly as possible.
“We would have spoken about issues in relation to testing, and I’m happy to report that over 1,000 samples were tested at the lab overnight. And we were able to deliver those results by 0600 hours today, that is 6:00 a.m. So that persons would have had back their results in good time. And we’ve put measures in place to continue with this, because we’ve been doing well all along. We’ve only had that one week where we’ve had challenges.”
He called on Barbadians to join in the fight against the pandemic pointing out that a whole country approach was needed.
“And at the end of the day, it is not up to visitors, or persons returning to this country who will determine how well we do, but it is up to every single individual to do what is required in relation to the protocols. The wearing of masks and sanitisation, etcetera. This is really where we need to focus our efforts in this fight,” he stressed.
Minister Bostic also called on Barbadians to celebrate safely as they ushered in the new year.
“I know that this is the festive season. And there’s a propensity for people to enjoy themselves in several ways. But I want you to remember also that there’s still the COVID-19 pandemic that is a threat, not only to our country and our livelihood, but to the region, and to the globe. And that we have a responsibility to continue to play our part.”
He shared plans by Government to utilise retired officers, medical personnel and Barbados Defence Force officers to assist with the management of the process, because according to him “this is national duty. This is a national threat, and this requires a national response”.
The Health Minister further revealed that Government had been able to make significant progress in relation to improving the monitoring of visitors in quarantine at hotels by establishing a Quarantine Engagement Unit.
This is being headed by retired Deputy Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force, Lt. Col. Atheline Branch, and a team of about 30 or 40 persons – Community Health Liaison Officers.
While acknowledging that Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley had always made funds available to ensure that Barbados had whatever was necessary to aid in the COVID-19 fight, Lt. Col. Bostic noted that that alone was not enough to “take us through to the end”.
He appealed to Barbadians to ensure that everyone at the individual level did what was required of them, and to play their part in the fight against the pandemic.
“The only way we are going to get through to the end, and to do so successfully, is if each and every one of us continues to do what we are supposed to do, and we know what we are supposed to do. So that some of the things that you have seen over the last few days … I am begging you, put an end to it; put an end to it because we cannot monitor every single thing in the country. That is not practical or possible, but you can help us to monitor.
“You can help us to check on others. You can help us by speaking to your children and telling them to wear the masks and do the things that they’re supposed to do. You can help us by doing these things yourselves. You can help us by not going into crowded areas where people are not wearing masks. Help us to protect this country. Help us to protect you… I want us to end 2020, strong, so that we can start 2021 on good footing, on a solid foundation. Let us build on what we’ve been able to develop over the last several months. And don’t let the negatives that have come into the system recently prevent us from achieving what this country is capable of achieving, because we have the capacity,” he urged.