Today I am advising the public that Barbados has recorded its first two cases of COVID-19.
The patients are a 48-year-old visitor who arrived in Barbados on March 13th from the U.S, and a 39-year-old female, a Barbadian who recently returned to Barbados from the U.S.
Both patients were experiencing symptoms of a viral infection and were referred to the team at the Ministry of Health and Wellness for further evaluation.
The Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory informed us early this morning that samples taken for these patients were positive. Both patients are being managed for COVID-19 and have been placed in isolation, where they will remain until they recover.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has initiated the process of contact tracing to identify every individual who came in close contact with these patients. These persons will all be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
Our priority now as a Ministry is to ensure that COVID-19 is contained and to do all in our power to prevent in-country transmission. We are now in Stage 1 of our National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan where the primary focus is containment to prevent community spread.
We have decided on the following measures, which will be implemented with immediate effect.
- All public gatherings such as sporting and cultural events or any event that attracts crowds will be restricted to 100 persons.
- Visits by members of the public to all public and private geriatric institutions are suspended until further notice.
- Visits to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are restricted to protect elderly patients as well as those suffering with non-communicable diseases.
- The Isolation Centre at Enmore has been stood up with six isolation beds and quarantine facilities are in place at the Paragon Base in Christ Church and the Elayne Scantlebury Centre, River Bay, St. Lucy. Additionally, quarantine and isolation facilities will be available at Harrison’s Point within weeks.
- The Barbados Defence Force’s Field Medical Facility has also been set up to provide additional screening, quarantine and isolation services.
I wish to reiterate that our mission now is to prevent the spread of this viral illness in our country. We must all play our part by being vigilant about putting into practice the public health advice that you must now be very familiar with.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water; alternatively, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Practise social distancing, that is, maintain at least one metre or 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is visibly ill with who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose.
- Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze or do so into your bent elbow
- If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, especially if you were in an affected region within the previous 14 days or think you may have been in contact with someone who was, call your healthcare provider, the nearest polyclinic or the Ministry’s COVID-19 hotline for advice. The hotline’s number is 536-4500.
So once again, Barbados has recorded its first two cases of COVID-19 – a 48-year-old visitor to the island and a 39-year-old Barbadian female, both of whom came into the island from the United States. After experiencing symptoms, they were referred to the medical team at the Ministry of Health and Wellness for further evaluation and the Best-dos Santos Laboratory confirmed this morning that they both tested positive for the virus. They will remain in isolation until they recover.
As Minister of Health and Wellness in Barbados, I am committed to doing all in my power to protect the health and ensure the safety of every person resident here. I therefore want to assure the public that there is no need for panic. This is the time for vigilance and being our brother’s keeper.
Our communication lines are open and we will update you every step of the way in the days and weeks ahead as we confront and eventually overcome this challenge.
Minister Of Health And Wellness The Honourable Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic