The Ministry of Health has assured the public that several preventative measures have been put in place to manage and mitigate any potential risk to public health which may result from the sewage overflows on the south coast.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, in a statement today, said that “at this point and time, based on updates and information reaching the Ministry as shared by the Barbados Water Authority, the likelihood of any outbreak of gastrointestinal disease is small”.
He advised that the risk could be further reduced by members of the public remaining “extra vigilant” and taking appropriate preventative measures, including basic hand hygiene. “That is, a minimum of 20 seconds of vigorous washing of hands prior to preparing food and after using the bathroom.”
The Ministry official also advised business houses in the area to use bleach solutions (one tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water) to sanitise all food surfaces, preparation areas and equipment.
The Ministry meanwhile has increased the number of environmental health officers assigned to the affected areas to monitor food handling practices of businesses and households. It is also continuously testing the potable water supply to make sure it remains safe.
Dr. George disclosed that the Ministry was also in contact with polyclinics and private practitioners so as to quickly identify any new cases of gastrointestinal disease.
Additionally, he said the Ministry was working closely with the Environmental Protection Department in respect of near shore testing of beach water. Up to November 24 when testing was temporarily halted to allow for the relocation of the public health laboratory, the Worthing Beach was deemed safe. Testing resumed on December 11.