PAHO addresses COVID-19 surge in Barbados and other Easter Caribbean countries (why Magistrates need to issue harsher penalties for quarantine breaches)

The Pan American Health Organization Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries calls for coordinated response and new public health and social measures to address increased COVID-19 cases in the countries.

Over the past three weeks we have seen significant increases in the reported COVID-19 cases in many of the Eastern Caribbean Countries. These represent the highest numbers of recorded cases at any point in the pandemic. The 7 days increase represent in Antigua and Barbuda, (325%), Barbados (1138%), Saint Lucia, (77%) Saint Vincent, (573%).

The current COVID-19 outbreaks in each of the countries over the previous weeks are related to people attending crowded settings, engaging in confined space with limited physical distancing and not wearing masks in public spaces. In some instance the cluster of cases occurred in institutional settings. Not complying with recommended public health and social measures gives the virus opportunities to spread, and for more people to develop severe disease, and stretching the health systems. If we don’t act now, the number of hospitalizations will increase and result in deaths.

The PAHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Yitades Gebre, stated that “the current intensity of transmission and response capacity of the health system in these countries require for adjustment of the public health and social measures tailored to the local context and stepping up contact tracing of cases for targeted control”. The Representative emphasizes that “before new changes in public health measures are made, communities must also be fully consulted and engaged”. Considering the effects these measures may have on the general welfare of society and individuals.

We are in a very dangerous time in the course of the pandemic and we do not want to see people become complacent as vaccines are starting to rollout. Since the start of the New Year, PAHO has shipped additional SARS-CoV-2 testing kits, personal protective equipment to Grenada, Barbados, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Saint Lucia and provided technical guidance to all countries to prepare for COVID-19 vaccines when it become available. We reiterate that local communities, and visitors in Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries to exercise safe COVID-19 personal protective measures (such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mask wearing); environmental measures (such as cleaning, disinfection, ventilation).”

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