After 17 days with no new COVID-19 cases, four people who returned to Barbados on Tuesday’s repatriation flight from the United States tested positive for the viral illness.
Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic made the announcement early Wednesday during a media briefing at his Culloden Road, St Michael, office. He was flanked by head of the Infection Prevention and Control/Infectious Diseases Programmes at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Corey Forde, and Senior Medial Officer of Health Dr Arthur Phillips.
The four cases, which carry the total to 96, comprise three women (ages 53, 25 and 20) and a 39-year-old man. They returned to Barbados on the JetBlue flight which had 110 passengers, all of whom were tested and remain in quarantine. It is not known at this time if any of them are related.
They were stranded in the United States for about four months after international travel came to a halt.
“While this result is of concern to us, I must say the results themselves were not unexpected and have not alarmed us. The public health officers in this Ministry are fully aware and have been advising the Government that we should be prepared for an uptick in cases once travel from hotbed areas resumed,” Bostic said.
He said COVID-19 was here to stay until a vaccine was found and reiterated an earlier statement that the island was in a better position to deal with cases and also had the Harrison Point facility in St Lucy.
“I wish to assure the public that Barbados is much better prepared today to deal with this challenge than we were in March when the viral illness surfaced here on island. We certainly have more capacity and experience than we had at the beginning.”
Bostic said the Best-Dos Santos Public Health laboratory conducted 187 tests on Tuesday and the others were negative. One result is pending.
Meanwhile two of the four people who were in quarantine are also going home today, the Minister announced. Six people are in quarantine, 83 recovered and there were seven deaths. The lab conducted 6 192 tests.