As Barbados moves to normalise activities at its ports of entry in the coming weeks and months, technology will be at the forefront of the effort to manage the challenges posted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Word of this came from Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic on Friday, as he accepted a donation of computer supplies from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for use in two of the polyclinics being utilised as COVID-19 testing sites.
Minister Bostic said that while the teams managing the health crisis had been doing an outstanding job since the Grantley Adams International Airport reopened to limited flights in July, the situation was about to change in terms of the number of daily flights.
“So, we can expect that there will be an increase in the number of flights coming into Barbados out of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and even regionally, and although the efforts of the teams on the ground have been outstanding, this effort now requires significantly more resources.
“We are planning to re-organise with what we have, add some additional resources, but at the forefront of this effort going forward will be the use of technology, so the computers are very, very timely, especially at the primary healthcare facilities that are doing testing and that are responsible for contact tracing.”
With the influx of flights and the expected reopening of the seaport, the Health and Wellness Minister disclosed that more technological devices would be introduced in coming weeks to assist his Ministry to manage the increased numbers of visitors.
“We are going to be having some branded bracelets that certain categories of persons will wear and those bracelets will be able to tell us a lot of things – trackers so that we know where people go, and if they remove the bracelets we will know that they’ve done so. So, we will be able to determine where people are, people who are of interest to us, and also the other apps that we are using will allow us to be able to not only gather the information quickly, but also be able to utilise the information in a timely manner to inform policy decisions.”
He further explained that the arrival of greater numbers of visitors will expand the need for designated facilities for quarantine and isolation.
Technology will therefore be utilised, he said, to assist the Ministry in more efficiently managing this process by keeping track on a daily basis of what is available in terms of capacity; when people are due to be discharged and also when people are due for the mandatory second test for the viral illness.
According to the latest protocols, all persons arriving with a valid negative COVID-19 test result from countries deemed high or medium risk are required to take a second test within four to five days after the first test.
Minister Bostic praised residents of Barbados for their cooperation in adhering to the protocols which have been put in place to manage the challenges posed by the pandemic on the island.
“Allow me to say once again thank you to every Barbadian man and woman and all other residents for cooperating. There are some people who don’t, but that is life, but the vast majority of people in this country follow the protocols and that is what is helping us.”
He however cautioned against anyone becoming complacent, pointing out that the more people who visited the island, the greater the risk.
He however assured: “It is a risk that we can manage, we have been managing and will continue to manage, thanks to the hard work of our medical teams, thanks to the cooperation of people who live on this island and thanks to PAHO for its continued and most valued support.”