Docs: ‘Where’s the science behind new entry rules?’

Local physicians are once again beseeching Government not to alienate them from decisions being made about the COVID-19 pandemic, contending that the apparent lack of input from those on the frontlines is affecting the morale of an already tired professional community.

On Monday, the president of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) Dr Lynda Williams wrote to high-ranking officials in the Ministry of Health and Wellness demanding answers about the scientific basis for shocking adjustments to the country’s entry protocols.

“Today I wrote for clarification because I read [the protocols] yesterday like everyone else and just digesting some of the things that would not have been said on Friday, but until I get an answer, I really can’t be sure,” the BAMP President told Barbados TODAY.

The new measures erase longstanding protocols allowing travellers vaccinated against COVID-19 to forego testing and quarantine, ending protocols,  which for months remained in place and were considered fundamental to managing the importation of new cases into the country.

On Friday, one day after the new measures were announced, Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, declared that the “real enemy” was the current community spread of COVID-19 as less than one per cent of all positives were imported.

Dr Williams however explained that while the retention of random testing is somewhat commendable, the crux of Bostic’s argument has “holes” from a scientific perspective.

“There are holes in that argument…there are issues with that… and it is not a full basis for taking away all testing at the ports and because it isn’t, I am hoping to have a discussion about it,” said Dr Williams.

“If there is more data that they have, if there is more rationale that I am not aware of, then I am hoping that they can present that to us, but as it stands, I am going with just the very little information that you have, which says that we have community transmission, therefore we don’t need to worry about what is happening at the border,” she added.

The decision was the second in recent weeks where Government appeared to exclude the medical fraternity in the country’s deadliest wave of the pandemic thus far.

Weeks ago, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, side-stepped calls from BAMP and other independent healthcare professionals who warned that further restrictions on movement are needed to safeguard dozens of lives as the daily number of COVID cases climbed to unprecedented levels.

Noting that doctors are both mentally and physically fatigued and in some cases burnt out, Dr Williams said their exclusion from the decisions that may affect them on a day-to-day basis is only adding insult to injury.

“We are not just pairs of hands on the ground. If we don’t understand what is going on, if you alienate the medical community, it makes people frustrated. It’s always good to have us in the know, but if they don’t think so, there’s nothing I can do about that,” the BAMP president contended.

Adding that local doctors understand that the impact of the pandemic also has a social and economic component, Dr Williams noted this was no excuse to create the illusion that decisions taken are based on medical expertise.

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