COVID-19 update and question and answer session – January 04, 2021. (PMO)

A proactive approach to treating persons diagnosed with COVID-19 has been highlighted as key in the island’s successful recovery rate.

To date, Barbados has recorded 324 recoveries and seven deaths, since the first two cases were reported in March 2020.

During last night’s televised COVID-19 update, Head of the Harrison Point Isolation Facility, Dr. Corey Forde, explained that a system had been implemented, whereby persons who test positive would undergo an immediate clinical assessment.

He said while the majority of persons showed no symptoms, their condition could suddenly deteriorate, hence the approach taken by the public health authorities to closely monitor patients.

“You’re going to Harrison’s Point for that assessment, [which] is important because it allows us to benchmark you and put you in a category. It may be 24 hours; it may be 48 hours.  You may not like it, but we have a dedicated team of medical staff.

“I think why our rates in terms of deaths and complications associated with COVID-19 is really on the lower end of the scale, since April [2020], is because of the phenomenon of watching people, seeing them moving from that asymptomatic phase to a symptomatic phase. At that particular point, our very capable and hardworking isolation consultants, Dr. Hassell and Dr. Lovell really work with those patients at that particular stage…and we’re able to pull them back…. Our ultimate aim is to get them back to their families safely,” Dr. Forde explained.

Providing a status report on the facility, he disclosed that at the time of the press conference, there were three persons in primary intensive care; two Barbadians, one of whom is a resident of the United States; and a visitor from the United Kingdom. According to Dr. Forde, there were classified as severe COVID-19 patients, but were all in stable condition.

He also took the opportunity to caution persons, especially the younger demographic, against being complacent.

Head of the Harrison Point Isolation Facility, Dr. Corey Forde. (FP)

“I think there’s this notion that young people do not get ill. This has certainly not been the case over the last few weeks, where we had one or two younger folks getting ill, but we were able to pull them back,” Dr. Forde stated, adding that persons of varying ages, races, and social status were being treated at Harrison Point.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley also weighed in on the concerns persons had about being taken to Harrison Point for assessments; reiterating this was a part of Government’s COVID-19 protocols.

“Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Liz Thompson, got ill.  She went to Harrison’s Point and she spent 22 days there. It is important that everybody understands that we carry people to Harrison’s Point, not to be punitive, but it is critical based on what Dr. Forde said, for that initial clinical assessment.

“In other countries, they’re sending them back home, and only taking them after they become symptomatic, in some instances too many symptoms. So, the protocol that Dr. Forde has advised the Government of Barbados use has been fully embraced by the Government, which is ‘everyone, bar none’,” she emphasised.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Harrison Point Isolation Facility also appealed to members of the public to ensure they adhere to the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19.

“The truth is, the reason why you’re doing these protective measures is to stop that spread. So, I could be in the same room as someone who has COVID-19, once I have my [face] mask on it decreases that risk of transmission to myself,” he explained.

He added that utilising a face shield in conjunction with a face mask offered additional protection, as it further reduced direct contact between persons. 

Dr. Forde also stressed that hand washing or using sanitising solutions comprising of at least 60 per cent alcohol was also key in providing protection against the virus. “I advise you strongly to follow the [guidelines] of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It’s not a joke, and anybody can be affected,” he warned.

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