Good evening, Barbadians, visitors and well-wishers. I speak to you on this occasion from my home, as you would have been informed of the decision of the Chief Medical Officer to recommend self-isolation for some of us, who would have come into contact, no matter how minor, with persons testing positive for the coronavirus late last week.
I may be physically away from office and the many centres involved in the management and coordination of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but nevertheless I remain fully in touch and at the controls of the process.
It is for this reason that I am duty bound to address you this evening and to inform you of another 12 new cases added to Barbados’ tally of positive COVID test results, even though none of the 12 originated in Barbados.
Yesterday’s report from the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory revealed that a total of 270 persons were tested. 216 arrived aboard flights from the United States and United Kingdom. Of the 216 that flew in, 12 tested positive. Seven flew in aboard Jet Blue from JFK Airport in New York, while the other three were shared between British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. It must be pointed out here that all 12 persons returning positive tests results were citizens or residents of Barbados.
The Government has repeatedly made it clear that it shall accommodate all Barbadians abroad wanting to return home during this crisis, and therefore the increasing number of positive cases is to be considered in the context of our moral obligation to open our doors to citizens and residents of this country wanting to return home. The overwhelming majority of the now 132 positive COVID cases Barbados has recorded has been Barbadian citizens or residents.
Nevertheless, with the return of commercial flights to Barbados, these numbers are to be expected. Our public health protocols are proving their worth, as they allow us to detect and isolate people arriving into the country with the viral illness, before they leave the port of entry, in this instance, the Grantley Adams International Airport.
The six women and six men testing positive yesterday are all asymptomatic, meaning that none of them is so far exhibiting or experiencing any symptoms of the viral illness.
This is precisely why the testing protocol that Barbados has in place is so vital to our ability to respond to the public health threat posed by this global pandemic. Rapid diagnosis and isolation are the keys to the prevention of transmission.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness has prioritized scaled up testing, isolation and contact tracing since we recognize that these are the measures which most effectively help us to keep the infection out of the general population.
We continue to rely on the gold standard PCR COVID-19 test on entry as well as our recent decision to conduct a second test at the end of seven days quarantine for those persons arriving from countries deemed high risk.MHW-Barbados-COVID-19-Dashboard-August-022020
This is a challenge that we have prepared for and are confident that we are meeting head-on. Our isolation facilities at Harrison Point, St. Lucy, are well able to cope with the numbers we are seeing so far and are fully equipped and staffed to meet the needs of those who are recovering there. Indeed, it is worthy of note that though there is a numeric rise in positive testing, Barbados has not had a COVID-related ICU case in months. This means that most of our cases are without symptoms and we have not had to rely on intensive care or even ventilated treatment.
Our quarantine facilities at this time are also adequate and the public health staff work diligently to ensure that all the protocols are observed so that those in quarantine pose no health threat to themselves or others.
Once again, I commend all the frontline workers who continue to do an outstanding job in protecting the residents of Barbados against the vagaries of COVID-19, which represents one of the greatest challenges to public health globally in more than a century.
This notwithstanding, I again implore Barbadians not to let down their guard. The well tested and proven washing of hands, social distancing and now the wearing of protective masks are vital to our continued success in this battle. Do not take anything for granted. Do not assume that all cases shall always be those of persons arriving into the country.
As a nation we have to be on alert and we have to be mindful of the fact that at some point we could have a difficult to trace case popping up. I urge all Barbadians and residents to continue to practice protocols as set forth by relevant authorities.
In the days ahead, there will be more arrivals and one can reasonably expect, more cases, do not be alarmed by this, but be aware that the risk is ever present.
I wish to thank you for your continued cooperation and support and to assure you that towards the middle of this week, we shall be making arrangements for officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness to avail themselves to answer questions from both the media and the public at large.
I wish personally to thank those who have called and messaged extending their well wishes as well as their prayers for those of us who have been mandated to undergo self-isolation. Your thoughts and prayers are sincerely welcomed and appreciated.
Thank you for listening to me this evening and may God Bless you all. I thank you.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic