Good afternoon, as you are aware, a Jet Blue flight which arrived from the United States yesterday brought home Barbadians who had been stranded there since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and international flights stopped.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness received a report from the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory this morning that four of the 110 passengers on board that flight tested positive for COVID-19.
The four who are now in isolation at Harrison Point, St. Lucy are three women, aged 53, 25 and 20 and a 39-year-old man. They were among a total of 187 people tested yesterday. One result is pending and all of the others were negative for the virus, but remain in quarantine.
Meanwhile, I am happy to announce that two of the four people who remained in isolation up to yesterday are going home today after they were declared free of the virus. The four new cases bring the number now in isolation to six and our tally of confirmed cases since March 16 to 96. Additionally, 83 people have recovered.
Yesterday’s positive results for COVID-19 came after a 17-day hiatus since the last positive case on May 22.
While the results are of concern to us, the results themselves were not unexpected and have not alarmed us. The public health officers in this Ministry were fully aware and have been advising the Government that we should be prepared for an uptick in cases once travel from hotbed areas resumed.
I wish to assure the public that Barbados is much better prepared today to deal with this challenge than we were in March when the viral illness surfaced here on island. We certainly have more capacity and experience than we had at the beginning.
I have continually cautioned residents of Barbados that this public health threat is not over. The bulk of our cases have been imported cases, comprising mostly Barbadians, and with the lockdown, we have been able to contain the spread, but the fact of the matter is that once we open up, and we have to eventually open up, the possibility is that cases will return.MHW-Barbados-COVID-19-Dashboard-June-102020
The good news is that our systems are now enhanced. For example, at the ports of entry we no longer have to rely on the hand-held thermometers to check temperatures but instead we have installed the thermal testers that make it so much easier for persons to be facilitated.
We have a more than adequate supply of testing kits so we are now able to test everyone arriving into the island as well as to continue testing anyone who is recommended to be tested or who wishes to be tested in Barbados.
I wish to take this opportunity to commend the officers at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory who have now completed more than 6 000 tests for COVID-19 which is a significant achievement for a small island state such as ours.
From the beginning, we have understood what is required and will continue to do all in our power to identify, isolate, treat, contact trace and contain the spread of COVID-19 in Barbados.
We all accept that it will be around for a long time, or at least until a vaccine is developed, but we are also determined that we will not be paralyzed by the presence of this virus. We must never retreat or surrender but we must learn to live with the knowledge that this virus is around us.
As a country, we must act responsibly by following all the protocols and public health advice. An important objective of this Ministry is to continue to educate you about this disease and provide you with all the tools necessary to safeguard the health of this nation.
I am extremely proud of the way that Barbadians have responded so far and urge you all not to relax your efforts. Proper hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance still remain two of the most effective methods of staying safe.
Finally, be your brother’s keeper. There will always be the vulnerable among us who need our help and our support. Continue to look out for one another and lift our country up in your prayers.
Minister of Health & Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic