PROTOCOLS JUSTIFIED / Search form Search Main menu Home News Business Sports Columns Contact Us E-Paper PROTOCOLS JUSTIFIED Sat, 10/23/2021 – 5:00am The vast majority of Barbados’ positive novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are now within communities and not coming through the Grantley Adams International Airport.

This being the case over the last three months has therefore forced government to relocate resources from the airport to across the island in order to ramp up testing where it is needed the most at this time.

That’s according to Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, who was at the time explaining the rationale behind government’s announcement that fully vaccinated travellers to Barbados with a valid negative pre-flight COVID-19 PCR test result will no longer be required to take a COVID-19 test or quarantine on arrival. 

Addressing the COVID-19 update yesterday evening, Minister Bostic revealed that in August approximately 18 000 persons visited the island, with a positivity rate of persons with non-Barbadian ID cards of 0.66 per cent, and in September 0.53 per cent and October 0.46 per cent.

“And interestingly enough, if you look at the number of positive cases that we have been having over the last six weeks or so, or you decided that you will utilise one day’s result – one day’s result of positive cases of the community transmission, persons who reside in Barbados accounted for more than the total cases for one month of persons travelling into the country,” he pointed out.

“So we are faced with a situation where the main thrust, the main effort, the main battle that we’ve been fighting for months, which really was at the airport, the port of entry, because the aim at that point in time was to try to keep the virus out of the country, keep the variants out, or delay them, because we always recognise that we were not going to be able to stop COVID from entering this country, just like any other country”. 

“But then we move to a situation that we are in at this point of serious community transmission – the vast majority of our positive cases are within our communities. So, the main effort, our battlefield has shifted from the port of entry to the communities… Our human resources capacity is stretched at this time because of this surge. And also, our material resources, swabs, and tests and all the things that are required because this is the protracted war, a prolonged effort is required here,” he stressed.

The Health Minister said that government will be expanding community testing by implementing more testing sites, taking the load off the Polyclinics and the Wildey Gymnasium. Queen’s Park has been identified as one of the sites.

“We will announce the other sites later… We have to go in that direction to take some of the load off the major testing sites the polyclinics and the gymnasium. And we also have to engage the services in some instances with our private sector partners for them to be able to assist with testing to reduce the waiting time and to take some of the burden off the resources that we have at our disposal – that is the public sector resources”.

Minister Bostic went on to reveal that the change in travel protocol is also part of a new testing strategy that will be rolled out shortly, “We are doing so not only because of our own experience but acting under the advice of a Virologist from PAHO who is assisting us with training people to test, and also to give advice on the things that we are doing within the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory”. 

“Now, it does not mean that if the situation warrants in time to come, that we would not go back to testing at the airport. Because this, as I said, is a dynamic situation, but we have to deal with the current situation and the area of greatest threat to the country and that area is within communities,” he stressed.

However, as a result of not testing fully vaccinated travellers, Minister Bostic is alerting Barbadians they will see an increase in the daily positivity rate. 

“Once we remove that testing, it will have an impact on the positivity rate because we will be testing a smaller number of persons coming in. And also, the fact that those persons will not be positive cases, for the most part, the most positive cases will continue to be persons as a result of community transmission,” he explained.

LINK ORIGINAL: Barbados Advocate

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