A super spreader event on Boxing Day has led to an additional 45 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Barbados.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, disclosed during a press briefing last night that a bus crawl attended primarily by prison officers of Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Dodds and some members of the Barbados Defence Force on Saturday, December 26, is being linked to the spike in cases.
The 45 confirmed cases comprise 32 persons from HMP Dodds, and four from the Barbados Defence Force (BDF). The four from the BDF, along with 17 from the Prison Service, all attended the bus crawl.
In a previous press conference on New Year’s Eve, Minister Bostic indicated that there were five positive cases, two of whom were prison officers, which were under investigation by his Ministry.
He revealed that following aggressive contact tracing and testing which began on Thursday evening, there were currently 100 cases under active investigation.
“This bus crawl is now considered as a super spreader event. The Ministry of Health and Wellness’ intent is to test or swab all prison officers tonight, and the remainder of the prison population by tomorrow.
“I cannot tell you that this is not a daunting task, because it is. I cannot tell you that we will have this matter dealt with by tomorrow or the next day, because we won’t. What I can tell you is that the words that I said to you in my rallying call several months ago that we will not retreat and we will not surrender to this virus, those words are far more important tonight as I speak than when I first issued them several months ago,” Lt. Col. Bostic stated, adding that the undertaking was possibly the most challenging assignment of his life, including the 26 years he spent as a military officer in the BDF.
However, he pointed out that local public health officials have what it takes to wrestle the situation to the ground.
Following Mr. Bostic’s statement, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, indicated during her address that the number of prison officers who tested positive for COVID-19 was likely to increase.
“Even as we speak, and in the few minutes since the Minister of Health has spoken, I received information of more batches coming in with more positives from prison officers. They are not in a position to give me an exact number, and I’m not going to lie to you or mislead you, or this country. But suffice it to say, I have given the Sub-committee Chairman, Minister Walcott; Minister Bostic and Minister Abrahams full authority to continue to speak to this country over the next few days,” Ms. Mottley stated.
She also urged persons who participated in the bus crawl, but had not yet been assessed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to call the COVID-19 hotline at 536-4500.
This is so arrangements could be made to transport those who don’t have their own transportation to the Eunice Gibson Polyclinic, at Warrens, St. Michael, where testing will take place today, Saturday, January 2, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Persons are asked not to use public transportation to go to the polyclinic.