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“Dire” COVID-19 warning from acting CMO

Adriel Richard

“Dire” COVID-19 warning from acting CMO
Acting chief medical officer, Dr Anton Best speaking during the news conference on Thursday. (GP)

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Acting chief medical officer, Dr Anton Best described the current fight of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Barbados as “dire”.

Health authorities said on Thursday during a news conference there were currently monitoring close to 1 500 people under the home isolation programme for the viral illness in Barbados.

They also made it clear this did not include the little more than 800 people under medical care that were reported on Wednesday on the national dashboard for the eight isolation facilities around the island.

“As you are aware, we are in a dire situation right now,” Best said. “Over the last few weeks, we have had a very high incidence of COVID-19…

“If you look at the rate of cases in August of this year, we had 689 cases. In September, we had more than 3 500 cases of COVID-19 detected. That’s a 500 per cent increase in the number of cases.

“So far for October, we have had over 1 000 cases, so we have so far surpassed the COVID-19 tally for the month of August.”

Best said the Delta variant of COVID-19 was “a game-changer” and it made the containment of the spread of the virus on the island “extremely difficult”.

“It was reported on the dashboard two days ago (on Tuesday) that we had 318 cases in a one-day period, which was significantly higher than the 207 daily cases average up to that point,” he said.

“And on the dashboard (on Wednesday), we had 300 people identified – and there is no doubt that the number for (Thursday) is probably going to be the same, so we have a dire situation on our hands.”

He added: “This requires the understanding and cooperation of people about what we are dealing with. This is 18 months into the pandemic, and we are into the third wave, and right now, the situation is grave because the numbers are going up and it will not be surprising if the incidence went up further.

“What is not reflected in the dashboard is the number of active cases we have. The home isolation programme was started because we had no choice and there were so many people who were COVID-19 positive in the community… We have a significant number of active cases of COVID-19 in Barbados.”

Best again urged Barbadians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because it was the best chance of stemming the tide of positive cases.

“The main concern that I have and what I find disconcerting is the relatively low uptake of vaccines,” he said. “The vaccines are effective and safe, and they can reduce transmission risk, but most importantly, they reduce the severity of the disease.

“We are also concerned about the number of people that are dying of COVID-19. More people are going to die when there is more spread of COVID-19 in the community, so we really need people to understand what we are dealing with.”

He said: “While the ministry is out to all and the isolation facilities, the QEH (Queen Elizabeth Hospital), all of the healthcare sector, the public sector, the private sector and the entire government, we really require that whole of government and whole of society approach.

“We really require people in the community to have an understanding as to where we are, why we are here, and what role they can play in helping us to combat this deadly pandemic.”

Health authorities confirmed two more people died early on Thursday from the complications related to COVID-19, taking the number of deaths from the viral illness in the island to 88. (AR)