Restrictions to remain untouched for now, says minister

A 63-year-old man has become the 45th person to die from COVID-19 here, the Minister of Health announced Monday while revealing that in a separate development, eight members of a St Michael family have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The minister announced the death of the man, who was admitted to the Harrison Point coronavirus hospital on April 23 and was intubated and ventilated for six days suffering from severe acute respiratory illness.

While the latest cluster sent the test positivity rate – the percentage of positive results from the total number of tests –  skyrocketing in the past 24 hours, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic maintained there will be no tightening of restrictions for the time being.

Speaking from Ilaro Court Monday evening, he told journalists that after recording no positive cases on Sunday, 15 new cases out of 353 tests were identified Monday.

He said three of the newest cases emanated from the Psychiatric Hospital along with the St Michael family.

Lt Bostic said: “This is indeed of great concern to the team and contact tracing is now in progress. Today’s results produced a positivity average of just under five per cent which is much higher than the average for the last seven days of 1.5 per cent.

“Of interest also is the fact that as of May 1 we average 31.3 cases per 100,000 population over a 14-day period bringing us closer to our target of 25 per 100, 000, so that what we are seeing is an improvement in the overall situation in the country but there are still pockets of resistance and resistance which we must pay close attention to.”

He said even though Government is committed to applying a “gas and brake” policy with regards to its COVID-19 restrictions and directives, it sees no reason to alter the current measures.

The health minister said: “This is a concern but it is not a concern that would cause us to have to go backward in terms of restrictions. We will continue on the current path where that is concerned but it is a reminder to all of us that COVID is still in our communities even though in pockets of communities and so we still have to do what we must, which is to continue to unite to fight the virus.”

Investigations are also continuing into an earlier COVID-19 cluster that had been identified at the World Harvest Ministries in Speightstown, St Peter, he said.

The minister explained that it was important for herd immunity to be established in Barbados as it was the only way Barbadians would return to a sustained sense of normalcy.

Lt Col Bostic told journalists: “At this time the world as you know is going through a very serious moment with the pandemic. We are improving in our situation as I said, but we still have COVID in Barbados.

“I believe one of the things beyond everything else that we have been able to do and we will continue to do going forward is the fact that we must strive very hard to reach herd immunity in terms of having the percentage of our population vaccinated that would allow us to do this, because once we are able to do that combined with all of our other efforts, this would allow us in this country to be able to return to a state of normalcy to some sort, but not only to return but to sustain that.”