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CMO: Banning the movement of people only delays transmission

December 3, 2021

Public health officials are in a heightened state of alert with respect to Barbados’ borders in light of the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

However, Chief Medical Officer, Dr The Most Honourable Kenneth George, said that banning travellers from the countries with cases of the new variant was not “an absolute and good public health measure”.

Speaking during a COVID-19 press briefing on Thursday, Dr George explained that, to date, about 30 countries, some of them Barbados’ tourism source markets, had reported cases of the variant.

He added that the country’s travel protocols remained the same, at present, as the Ministry of Health and Wellness monitored the situation.

He further noted that little was currently known about Omicron, except that it had the capacity to spread quickly. As for implementing travel bans, the Chief Medical Officer said such a measure would only postpone the inevitable.

“Banning the movement of people is a method for only delaying possible transmission. It is not an absolute and good public health measure. We will continuously examine the evidence and will come to the public to update them.

“We are on a heightened state of alert with respect to our borders. However, our protocols have not changed to date. I am very aware that some countries in the region may have gone extra miles but that depends on the peculiarities in their population but the public health team [here] will continue to give sound advice to policymakers with respect to our directions in a state of Omicron,” Dr. George said.

He suggested that the emergence of Omicron was “a golden opportunity” to reconsider those persons in society who were unvaccinated. So far, about 57 per cent of Barbados’ eligible population (those 12 years and older) has been vaccinated but Dr. George estimates it will take 65 per cent of the eligible population being vaccinated “by January next year” to reduce community spread.

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