COVID-19 Update and press conference – Jan. 29, 2022. (PMO)

As Barbados continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. The Most Honourable Kenneth George, provided an update on the current situation, including its R-effective rate, new quarantine period and numbers in isolation facilities.

Speaking during a COVID-19 update at Ilaro Court this afternoon, Dr. George shared that the country continues to record increasing rates of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, and the country was in weeks four to five of Omicron surge cases, as predicted by the University of the West Indies.

He explained that the Ministry of Health and Wellness assesses the country’s COVID-19’s risk using three metrics – the R-effective, the case counts and the positivity rates.

“The R-effective rate today is 1.2., and that suggests that there is spread within our communities. We [would] like that rate to be one or less, and in addition, although there has been some fluctuation in our positivity rate, it continues to trend upward, with the highest being recorded at 26 per cent…. They were 630 new positive cases, and 12 persons will be released from isolation today,” Dr. George reported.

He also stated that the Ministry had received from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) 17 out of 20 samples sent, and those 17 samples were positive for Omicron. 

He added that the Best-Dos Santos Public Health Laboratory has had close to “100 per cent concordance” with the samples collected by CARPHA.

With respect to the number of persons in isolation facilities, the Chief Medical Officer shared that there were just over 150 individuals in isolation facilities, and within the Harrison’s Point Isolation Facility, there were 111 individuals, who were in Primary A and Primary B. However, he noted that over 70 per cent of those individuals were in secondary isolation.

“The persons requiring oxygen-assisted ventilation and ventilation is 18, and we only have two individuals who are on intubated and on complete ventilation at this time.  The occupancy of Harrison’s Point is between 35 and 40 per cent,” Dr. George said.

He also spoke about the change to the length of time persons spent in quarantine. “Effective immediately, the quarantine period for persons is no longer five days. Quarantine is for three days and you retest on the fourth day. This was instituted based on the epidemiology and the science of transmission of Omicron,” he stated.

Dr. George also disclosed that there were outbreaks at the Geriatric and Psychiatric Hospitals, two nursing homes and one children’s home. This spread of infection, he said, “is testimony to the level of infection within our communities”.

The country’s Chief Medical Officer expressed the hope that the COVID-19 case numbers would start to trend downwards, and that every Barbadian household “will play its part in managing the disease at this point and time”.

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