Government looking to build trust

ON Monday, during a virtual COVID-19 press briefing by the Government of Barbados, Head of the newly formed Health Communications team, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson, stated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the current administration wanted to build trust and were going to provide transparent facts.

Thompson, who arrived this past weekend and is now in quarantine, showed the public the new COVID-19 GPS bracelet, which the Ministry of Health was now using to track those under quarantine. She outlined that the team would aim to provide clearer information and address the concerns voiced. The head of the communications team stated that she was happy to be part of the process of being full and frank with Barbadians, and providing quality information.

“There have been many concerns and criticisms on our approach and information given. Therefore, we want to be more timely, we want to have clarity and we want to build public trust with all stakeholders, particularly Barbadians at home and abroad who have a vested interest in protecting their health,” she said.

The ambassador also contended that despite popular belief, the first responsibility of the Government was to Barbadian nationals.

“Our interest, the responsibility of the Government is first and primarily and always, our nationals first. Equally, we have a responsibility to who are our guests and tourists,” said Thompson.

Addressing the issue of persons having problems reaching authorities regarding COVID-19 tests and results along with inquiries, the head explained that the volume of calls had risen immensely. In fact, they had skyrocketed from approximately 7,000 calls per day to as much as 33,000 calls. However, Thompson announced that more personnel and phone lines had been designated to help address the issues faced by callers. She went on to make the point that worldwide, all countries faced challenges dealing with the pandemic and these included access to testing and results.

Also announced to the public was a plan for future press conferences, with a strategy to employ the use of a specific template which would lay out information including the numbers in quarantine.

“We will have key issues in messages of the day, which we will convey to you. There will be a template for the information you are going to get on those who are ill, in quarantine or what the numbers are looking like. So that you have some clear idea as to what they are,” stated Thompson. (AS)

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