COVID-19: Dr. Best cautiously optimistic about downward trend

Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anton Best, says officials are cautiously optimistic that the COVID-19 outbreak on island is under control.

He shared this view while pointing out “the daily numbers are fluctuating but with an overall downward trend”. He was speaking during a televised press briefing on Monday where a COVID-19 update was given.

“We are optimistic that we have this massive outbreak under control, cautiously optimistic. We have conducted vigorous contact tracing efforts and this is occupying the majority of time, effort and energy of the polyclinics which are the backbone of our public health infrastructure and we have made significant headway but we need more time to be able to contact trace all the persons that we need to contact trace to be able to isolate any new cases that we find and then get out of this epidemic.”

Providing details, Dr. Best said on Sunday, January 10, 819 tests were conducted and six new persons were diagnosed positive with COVID-19. He said this “included four men and two women. And two of those men that were diagnosed were male inmates at the prison”. Also on Sunday, 10 persons were released from isolation.

Going into some specifics about the clusters that exist on island, he shared there is more than one under investigation. He said in the cluster related to Her Majesty’s Prisons Dodds, “we have diagnosed 58 staff members or 18 per cent of the staff population with COVID, that is 37 men and 21 females. Out of the inmates, 22 per cent of inmates are diagnosed as COVID positive at this current point in time and associated with this cluster in the prison is 42 cases outside in the community. We also talked about the Bus Crawl which is affiliated with the prison and we have diagnosed 16 persons with this particular cluster”.

He said in relation to the West Coast clusters, there are 67 persons in those clusters.

“The reason why I say clusters is because it is not one discreet cluster, it is not one large cluster and it did not occur as a discreet event on a particular day like the Bus Crawl cluster. We currently have 67 persons in those clusters. Those clusters are associated with approximately six places on the West Coast.”

Dr. Best further pointed out that there is a South coast cluster, which is a small cluster but certainly, four cases that we have linked to each other. Then we have many other small clusters that we have not fully delineated.”

The Senior Medical Officer of Health noted that there are a number of factors which led to the crisis currently being faced. He pointed to an increase tourists arrivals during the winter season and especially ahead of the Christmas or festive season, an increase in socialising during the Christmas holidays and the fact that Barbadians dropped their “guard and not doing all of the things that we were supposed to have been doing”.

He also noted the system became overwhelmed and placed into what he “described as a perfect storm and a situation that we are trying to get ourselves out of”, when during the “initial outbreak of cases, we have a lot of persons panicking and going to testing facilities to be tested because they may have heard that persons that they knew or places that they went were associated with the COVID outbreak”. He said health officials wanted persons to come forward and be tested but they did not “anticipate the numbers coming forward.” (MG)

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