Eliminating risk for COVID-19 not entirely possible – Barbados PM

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Barbadians are being assured that Government is taking the necessary steps to keep COVID-19 at bay, but Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley, says that eliminating all the risks associated with the spread of the virus is not entirely possible.

PM Mottley was at the time responding to a question from the media, regarding concerns raised about passengers arriving from countries within the “Bubble”. As it stands, once such passengers have not travelled or transited through any high, medium or low-risk country 21 days prior to travelling to Barbados, they are required to obtain a COVID-19 test prior to travelling to Barbados. She indicated that to be included in the Bubble, countries must have 0.05 percentage of cases within the last 14 days.

“We recognise that we have to be able to balance lives with livelihoods and the region that presents the least risk, the absolute least risk for us is actually the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. But having said that, you would notice that the protocols say very specifically that if you have been in a high-risk country or a medium-risk country within

the last 21 days, then you don’t

get the benefit of the bubble,” she contended.

With the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) at work, which does security checks and comparative analysis for all Caribbean states regarding where persons are arriving in the region, Mottley suggested that Barbados has the information needed to make the necessary decisions regarding entry into the country. She used the example a passenger who arrived in Barbados over the weekend who tested positive. She said while they arrived from Antigua, they originated from New York, which she said the JRCC picked up.

“When we are telling you that these are risks that we can take, we believe so fervently. Does that mean that you may not get a COVID case from one of the islands in the bubble? It doesn’t, because you can entirely get that, but what it means is that the volume of cases from the bubble are unlikely to be very high and that we can manage them,” she stated.

Mottley added, “But we cannot eliminate all risks, we live in a world where COVID is present and for which there is no known vaccine or known cure.”

Asked also about the possibility of mandatory negative COVID-19 test for arriving passengers, PM Mottley said at this point they are only

strongly advising that persons obtain the tests, cognisant that in some countries access to test results within the required 72-hour period is not always possible. As such, she said Government is prepared to test people when they come and remains confident that the PCR test being used here is still the gold standard.

“Even if we tested 24 hours before there would still be a risk for that 24 hours and that is why our team here, and I want to commend them for it, strongly recommended that the Government of Barbados for high-risk countries would test within seven days of arrival… The incubation period of two to six days may mean that even if you have a negative result, you can have a positive within two to six days of exposure,” she explained.Mottley said that in an ideal world the airlines would be testing, but she indicated that they made it clear from the outset that they are not taking responsibility for testing.

“Therefore we came to the conclusion that if there are deficiencies on that side of the equation before people come here, let us correct the deficiencies on our side of the equation when people land here. We don’t have control over there, but we have control on this side,” she stated. (JRT)

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