BDS | Oct 8, 2021

Medical official warns Barbados in “dire situation” as COVID cases surge past 10,000

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

Dr Anton Best, acting chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Barbados, speaking at a virtual press conference in February 2021. (Photo: Government Information Service, Barbados)

Dr Anton Best, acting chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is warning of a “dire situation” in Barbados, as the country has hit over 10,000 cumulative coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

Dr Best, speaking at a virtual press conference on Thursday (October 7), expressed concern that active cases were significantly high in Barbados owing to the impact of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“We are in a dire situation right now. Over the last few weeks, we have had a very high incidence of COVID and I want to put some perspective on it,” he began.

“If you look at the rate of cases in August or the total number of cases in August of this year, we had 689 cases. In September, we had 3,500 cases of COVID detected—that’s a 500 per cent increase in the number of cases. And so far, for October, we’ve had over 1,000 cases. So, we have already surpassed the total tally for the month of August,” Dr Best added.

Barbados confirmed 259 new cases in the past 24 hours, sending the island’s tally to 10,082. The country hit a new daily case high of 318 on October 5, and is averaging some 240 cases this week alone.

Corresponding to the rise in infections, COVID-related deaths are also increasing in Barbados with 37 new fatalities being recorded in the Caribbean island. On September 6, Barbados’ COVID death toll was 51; roughly a month later that tally has jumped 59 per cent to 86 deaths to date.

Dr Best, anticipating that the latest update would likely reflect the same by the time the figures were known, stressed: “So, we have a dire situation on our hands, folks. The Delta variant is a game-changer and has made containment of this virus and [its] spread extremely difficult.”

(Photo: Government Information Service, Barbados)

The acting CMO maintained that it was important to get Barbadians to understand what was required of them and the cooperation needed, as it relates to what is happening.

He noted that it was 18 months into the pandemic and the country was into a third wave with the situation become more grave as the numbers are going up, and it would not be surprising if the incidence went up even further.

Meanwhile, addressing the numbers in isolation, he said although the dashboard reports on the number of persons in isolation facilities, what was not reflected on it was the total number of active cases in Barbados.

Noting that the Home Isolation Programme was started because there was no choice but to have persons who were COVID-19 positive in the community, he said: “So, we have just under 1,500 persons… in isolation in the community. So that has to be added to the figure that’s in the dashboard, which yesterday was 800. So, we have a significant number of active cases of COVID in Barbados.”

The senior health official, lamenting the situation, said what was particularly disconcerting to him was the fact that the island had a relatively low uptake of vaccines.

Acknowledging that vaccines were effective and safe, he reiterated they could reduce transmission risk, but most importantly, reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease.

As at October 7, around 48.1 per cent of the eligible Barbadian population is fully vaccinated, according to health ministry data.

The COVID-19 situation dashboard for Barbados, current as at October 8, 2021. (Photo: Facebook @MOH.Barbados)

Some 140,159 first doses have been administered, while 109,785 second-dose jabs have been distributed for a 40.5 per cent coverage rate of fully vaccinated in the country.

He also revealed that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was very concerned about the number of people dying from the illness.

While informing the country more people were going to die from COVID-19 when there is more spread in the community, Dr Best restated the need for persons to understand what the island was dealing with, adding that it required both a whole of government and society approach.

“We really require persons in the community to have an understanding as to where we are; why we are here, and what role they play in helping us to combat this deadly pandemic,” Dr Best urged.


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