Good afternoon, I stand here reassured in our decision to use only the gold standard PCR COVID-19 test, as well as in our decision in the last month to institute a second test on day seven for persons coming from high-risk countries.
This is because I have been advised that of the 248 tests conducted by the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory yesterday, there were 12 positive cases, but all persons are asymptomatic – that is, they show no symptoms whatsoever.
Nine of them are from Ghana, from among the nurses who arrived on Thursday. The other 86 tested negative. It should be noted that all of the nurses went into a 14- day quarantine on arrival. In addition, we are increasing monitoring and surveillance at the designated facilities. This was, and is always understood to be a necessary precaution.
The other three cases are: 1) A Barbadian female who returned to the island on July 29; 2) a male visitor who arrived on July 30; and 3) a Barbadian man who arrived from the United Kingdom with a negative test, but who when required to be tested to travel again, returned a positive test result. We are still investigating the circumstances of the last case. This will require extensive contact tracing, which the population is so aware that the public health team does on a daily basis.
As I indicated earlier, all these persons are asymptomatic – without any symptoms. Indeed, it is significant that only one person had a cut off level in the results, which suggests that person may be in the acute phase of infection. The remaining persons are likely to be in the recovery phase. Let me reiterate that all persons who tested positive are immediately placed in isolation at Harrison’s Point, as per the protocols of Barbados.MHW-Barbados-COVID-19-Dashboard-August-012020
Let me reiterate, this has proved that our public health protocols are working, allowing us to detect positive cases at our ports of entry and before arriving passengers are allowed to mix with the general population.
From the beginning, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has made it clear that testing of all arriving passengers for COVID-19 was a necessary pre-condition for reopening our borders to international travel and resuming regular air services.
I am satisfied that the protocol, which dictates that travellers either arrive with a validated PCR negative test already in hand, or are being submitted to be tested on arrival, is helping us to mitigate the risk of transmission during air travel and reducing the risk of importation within our small island.
And the rationale of the second test at day seven is because we do recognise that there is a risk of exposure in that 72-hour period, which we have asked persons to get the test before they come to Barbados.
Hence, on Day 7, before they leave quarantine and are indeed high risk, must have a second test before they can be released out of quarantine. And, if they refuse, they are kept in quarantine for another seven days making it a total of 14 days. This is in keeping with the international thinking on quarantine.
We are issuing a new refined protocol to make it absolutely clear to persons before they come what will be required of them.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is committed to ensuring the safety of all residents of Barbados as we continue to deal with the challenge of this global pandemic and will do all in our power to contain the spread of the viral illness on the island.
Many of you have heard the Prime Minister repeatedly state that when we are managing complex situations, we do not get to choose the circumstances we face, but we are obligated to deal with them. Today is just another one of those days!
At the same time, I am happy to report that two more people will leave the isolation facility at Harrison’s Point today after recovering from COVID-19. Recall that persons leaving the isolation facility will have two consecutive negative tests. This brings the total number of persons who have recovered to 98, while 17 persons remain in isolation.
The Best dos Santos Laboratory should be complimented, for in the short pace of five months, we have been able to do 11, 288 tests on persons coming into Barbados -Barbadian citizens with any respiratory symptoms and persons who need further investigation.
Let me say once again that we, in the Ministry of Health, under the leadership of our Minister, take the COVID-19 outbreak extremely seriously, and we will continue to do all in our power to ensure that the Barbadian public remains safe.