Operation “Seek and Save” has been effective in helping to identify positive cases of COVID-19 across Barbados, since its roll out on Wednesday, February 3.
Chairman of Cabinet’s COVID-19 Sub-committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, gave an update on the initiative, during a press conference at Ilaro Court today.
Minister Walcott stated: “Thus far, we have covered over 62,000 households in Barbados and that we’ve identified 168 suspicious households. And at yesterday, 236 rapid antigen tests have been done, along with 197 PCR tests in those households. Thus far, we’ve had 18 positive test results out of 218.”
The Chairman noted that the 18 positive cases were scattered across the island and came from areas in Christ Church West Central, St. Philip North, St. George, St. Thomas and in the western parts of St. Michael. In addition, he pointed out that Operation “Seek and Save” would be continuing.
“Thus far, we have covered over 62,000 households in Barbados and that we’ve identified 168 suspicious households. And at yesterday, 236 rapid antigen tests have been done, along with 197 PCR tests in those households. Thus far, we’ve had 18 positive test results out of 218.”Chairman of Cabinet’s COVID-19 Sub-committee, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott
Minister Walcott explained that the project not only entails students doing a survey, but phase two of it comprises a number of health professionals, paramedical people, doctors and nurses.
He said another aspect of Operation “Seek and Save” involves the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, where data captured by students in the field is collated, and filtered according to the specific symptoms related to COVID-19 and Dengue.
Minister Walcott pointed out that from the data collected, doctors had been able to reach out to those persons who provided telephone numbers, and conducted an evaluation for those households listed as having a suspected positive case of COVID-19.
Following that, he said persons would receive a visit from members of the six mobile teams, who continue further assessment. He added that they also conduct swabbing for PCR testing and carry out rapid antigen test on the spot.
“Those who are positive in a rapid test are transferred immediately, almost as soon as possible, to the Blackman and Gollop Centre. So, they remove them from the community, recognising that they are positive, obviously other people in the household are also tested then,” Minister Walcott explained.
He further stated that information collected during Operation “Seek and Save” is important to the social determinants of health.
“This has to do with your living conditions; if there is overcrowding in the house; if you identify one person that is positive that means obviously you can’t quarantine the others in that house while they are awaiting results, because they would be primary contacts, that has to be taken into consideration. If there’s running water; how is sanitation etcetera going to be maintained in the face of a possible positive case in that family.”
Minister Walcott also said that the data gathered looks at the incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in households, recognising the comorbidities related to COVID-19 and NCDs, as well as the number of persons in a household over the age of 65, who count as most vulnerable.
He urged the public to continue to participate in Operation “Seek and Save”.