Heath authorities in Barbados have identified capital city Bridgetown as a hot spot for the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are conducting aggressive contact tracing to quickly contain any further potential spread.
In making the revelation on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George said it was now necessary for public health officials to conduct random testing in the urban area.
“We have identified the City area as a hot spot and are trying to do some specific work in that area to do some random testing and to get some messaging out,” Dr George told Barbados TODAY.
“The contact tracing leads to wherever the contact tracing leads. You might have heard that the fish market [in Bridgetown] might have been exposed. So we did the contact tracing there and we are waiting on those results.”
The government’s chief medical advisor added: “We’ve found cases there [Bridgetown]. It started out with a wedding that led us to some bars and rum shops, that led us to some more bars and rum shops, that led us to a housing area in the City. That is how it goes. It goes as we get information.”
A statement issued later in the day by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, through the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), advised that the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex would remain closed for the remainder of the week, following confirmation of two positive COVID-19 cases.
“The market is closed for sanitization, and all staff and personnel from the complex are advised to be tested for the viral illness, as soon as possible,” it said, adding that the safety protocols implemented in markets at the beginning of the year will continue to be enforced.
Meanwhile, Dr George confirmed that there are 16 clusters across the country, seven of which are active.
“We still have a lot of clusters open. We are not getting as many cases, but the few we are getting…we are still getting cases that are being collected as primary contacts from contact tracing and either on their first test or second test are coming back positive,” the Chief Medical Officer said.
He is particularly worried that people are “hiding symptoms” of the potentially deadly virus.
“We are in this for the long haul. We are still finding that persons are presenting sick. People are hiding symptoms or presenting very late with symptoms, and at that point they are deemed to be highly infectious. If you present late, the likelihood of you exposing several other persons is very high. And, to the contrary, if you present early, the likelihood is certainly lessened,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Dr George lamented that situations of this kind are draining the Health Ministry’s resources.
“In addition, like today we had about three or four cases that were imported. So we are getting mixtures of both cases coming through Grantley Adams International Airport and local cases. The majority of cases continue to be local transmission,” he said.
He has therefore advised residents against spreading any claims that COVID-19 cases were only related to visitors coming to Barbados.
While declaring that the bank holiday weekend “went well”, the Ministry of Health reported 11 new COVID-19 cases after 1 233 tests carried were out on Tuesday. There are now 101 people in isolation.
Barbados has recorded 4 433 confirmed COVID-19 cases – 2 153 females and 2 280 males – since the start of the pandemic in March last year.
Forty-eight people have died from the viral illness.
To date, the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory has conducted 222 797 tests.Meantime, Barbados has reached a COVID-19 vaccination milestone, with the number of first doses administered having surpassed 100 000.
Since the National Vaccination Programme was rolled out in February this year, 100 017 people have received first doses, according to a release from the BGIS on Wednesday.
That brings the number of people who received the second jab and are fully vaccinated to 76 665, which represents 28.3 per cent of the population.