Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, speaking at at a presentation of equipment and supplies by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, yesterday. (GP)

Some Barbadians are making the mistake of waiting until it is too late to seek treatment for their COVID-19 symptoms.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, said the situation was such that it had resulted in a number of deaths being recorded recently.

He was speaking at a presentation of equipment and supplies by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, on Tuesday.

Mr. Bostic recalled that in January/February this year, the Operation Seek and Save had to be established to reach those who were remaining at home and presenting only when they were very sick. He said the situation was much worse now.

“Persons coming to Accident and Emergency are immediately having to be placed on oxygen because they are in poor condition. And so, I would continue to ask or beg our citizens to co-operate with us. It is extremely important that if we have elderly relatives or neighbours that we take of care of them and bring them forward for treatment at an early time when we can provide the assistance they require, so we can try to save more lives. That is vital.

“The same thing for persons who are experiencing symptoms whether they are elderly or young and they remain at home or continue working until it is too late, so that when they are diagnosed, they are at a stage where they have to be sent to the isolation facilities. So, these are the challenges we are facing at the moment,” the Health Minister explained.

He said, at present, health officials were not too concerned about the number of positive COVID-19 cases as they were previously, since there was widespread community transmission. Instead, Mr. Bostic noted that the focus had changed to saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

While the Ministry was facing many challenges in the COVID-19 fight, he pointed out that some gains were made in a few areas.

PAHO/WHO representative, Dr. Yitades Gebre presents medical supplies to Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel, Jeffrey Bostic and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, yesterday. (GP)

He added that for “the last few days” the respiratory clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was usually overwhelmed, did not have any patients, and that was a “plus”.

The Health Minister also stated that the conversion of Harrison’s Point to a primary and secondary facility “with oxygen and medical air throughout the facility” was another gain.  

He noted that the Ministry was “eagerly awaiting” the new oxygen plants purchased by Government, which should arrive on island this coming Saturday.

“We were also able [on] Monday to open the new testing facility at Queen’s Park, and that has been designed to take some of the pressure off of the [Wildey] Gymnasium and the two polyclinics that have been bearing the load, in addition to the Winston Scott [Polyclinic].

“We are looking, at the moment, at opening another testing centre at another location, and we will give details of that shortly.  We have been able to establish a 24-hour Operations and Logistics cell at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which is manned by personnel from the Defence Force, Police Force, the Fire Service and the Ministry, with liaison officers from the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism. And that has been working out very well for us.  In addition, we have established an epidemiological unit, a special unit, to deal with this [COVID] situation. That, too, is going quite well,” he shared.

Mr. Bostic thanked PAHO for its continued assistance, whether it was through technical or material support, as Barbados fought ‘the beast’ that was COVID-19.

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