EDITORIAL: Why the early fanfare?
A contingent of 95 Ghanaian nurses arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport recently, after months of anticipation.
They were warmly greeted by a delegation of health and tourism officials shortly after arrival.
Reports are that the nurses celebrated their arrival by waving the national flag of the Republic of Ghana, before being greeted by Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, and Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins. Minister Bostic was said to have welcomed the contingent of 49 women and 46 men to Barbados, explaining that there had been many challenges and that their arrival was a momentous occasion.
He highlighted that the occasion was a continuation of the initiative started by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, in reconnecting Barbados to the Republic of Ghana and Africa. The nurses are here currently under a two- year contract to help alleviate the nursing shortage in Barbados.
It was later reported the following day that nine of the nurses who arrived from Ghana tested positive for COVID-19. Those tests were carried out by the Best Dos-Santos Public Health Laboratory. It was also noted that many of them did come with the requisite tests, and at a later press conference it was said that Barbados uses a certain standard of test and additional tests were carried out to meet those standards.
The crux of the matter here is that not only tourism and health officials (who were later advised to separate themselves from their workplaces for five to seven days to err on the side of caution), were potentially exposed to those with COVID.
One wonders why there was such an early fanfare and why the nurses were not allowed to be tested, to go into quarantine or isolation if needed, and why a well-planned welcoming ceremony held in their honour did not then come at a later date, when the all clear was given? If it was known that many did not have the requisite test and that others would need to be tested on arrival here, why not let them separate themselves and then come together with the key officials at a later date? We must not in our excitement forget that we have to adhere to recommended protocols and do our best to prevent our citizens from contracting this virus, which is constantly being imported into the island.
It must also be said that members of the media and journalistic community should have been notified earlier of the possible exposure to COVID and the procedures then to be followed. Indeed, the time taken to get this information out should have been shorter.
Whilst we understand the need to have the nurses here and indeed, the Barbados Nurses’ Association (BNA) has also expressed high hopes for the partnership with Ghana to have the nurses work here, we at the same time must do better in our decision making.
All is usually well that ends well, but we must work to ensure that we do not further place media personnel and others at risk, when simple actions can see us averting unnecessary risks. Everybody likes to feel welcomed. However, we must use our discretion and find safer ways in which to welcome those from abroad, without the unnecessary fanfare that could prove detrimental to those residing here.