Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic is upbeat that the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Barbados continues to trend downwards.
However, still mindful of the unexpected and “terrifying” upsurge in cases towards the end of December last year, Bostic issued a stern warning to residents not to drop their guard.
Moreover, he has expressed concern at a recently discovered “cluster” of COVID-19 cases at a church in the north of the island, saying this was indicative of individuals refusing to follow the protocols.
This came as he reported on Thursday that of the 562 tests conducted the day before there were nine new positive cases – three males and six females. Eight people were released from isolation on Thursday.
“We have a couple situations we have been monitoring and have been following over the last couple of days. I would refer first of all to the cluster we reported in the north of the country – the church cluster. That cluster is now at about 23 positive [cases] over the last couple weeks or so and we had two more in the figures that I just gave,” said Bostic.
“The cluster comprises of members of the church, family members and close associates. We have also discovered that apart from that particular grouping this cluster has also impacted on three other institutions, one to the tune of another 10 positives and then one each at the other two institutions. So there are some linkages there,” he explained.
“I am saying that to the country just to remind us to follow the protocols. The arrival of vaccines and the continuous decline in positivity rates is not an excuse for us to stop sanitizing, stop physical distancing and stop wearing masks. We must be vigilant as we go forward so that we continue on the present trajectory and that we do not return to the last few months which for me has been a horrifying experience,” he added.
However, Bostic said generally he continued to be pleased about the declining numbers in positive cases and the work being done by the Ministry of Health.
While applauding all Barbadians for their role in helping to drive the number of positive cases down, Bostic warned that though he is pleased with the efforts so far he remained very cautious.
“If there is one thing I have learned from last year’s experience of late December is that these things can change in the twinkling of an eye, and they can change if we become complacent, if we rest on our laurels or if we drop our guard.
“If we do those things we are feeding the pandemic . . . and that is something we are not going to do,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mia Mottley also pleaded with Barbadians not to become complacent, saying that the new clusters indicated that people were still taking things for granted.
“The fact that this incident has happened where people remain stubborn and not want to cooperate or incline their hearts to wisdom causes us to be in a position where other institutions have been put at risk today in my view unnecessarily so. So that we really do need to continue to pull together,” said Mottley.
She noted that the National Vaccination Programme has been affected by the ashfall, but said it would continue as soon as the situation allowed.
“That is still our primary battle as we go forward,” she added.