The two persons with confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, are in isolation, and contact tracing to identify persons who would have been in close interaction with them has begun.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best, disclosed this during the first of daily press briefings on COVID-19, held at Ilaro Court today.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, who announced on Tuesday, March 17, that Barbados had its first two confirmed cases of the illness, also provided an update.
Dr. Best said: “Contact tracing is one of the key strategies that we use in public health to be able to identify cases through an index case. So, we have two index cases and contact tracing has begun and it would have started from yesterday and it continues, and will continue for the next few days.”
He stated several persons had been identified and questioned, and revealed that one person, who was identified through contact tracing, was in mandatory quarantine at a facility.
“That person absolutely needed to be in a facility where they need to be monitored and watched, and there are quite a few more people who are at home, and they are under self-quarantine.… We have a public health team that makes contact on a daily basis with those persons to verify that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing and taking temperatures and asking about the development of symptoms. These are people that we aren’t categorising as high risk, in terms of the likelihood that they would have COVID-19. They are actually low risk, and so far none of those persons have COVID-19,” Dr. Best outlined.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer also explained that the person in mandatory quarantine was asymptomatic, stressing that if the individual had presented with symptoms, he or she would have been placed in isolation.
“So, the persons in quarantine are usually, in most circumstances, persons who are asymptomatic, but they have a history of possible contact with a person who was COVID-19 positive, or we have another reason to strongly suspect that they may have it,” he clarified.
Dr. Best also indicated that the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Barbados were mild. He said none of the patients had pre-existing non-communicable diseases, although one of the females had bronchial asthma since she was a child. They are both receiving supportive treatment.
Meanwhile, Minister Bostic stated that 13 persons were tested on Tuesday, March 17, and reported that they all tested negative for COVID-19. He said 11 persons were to be tested today.
The Health Minister further pointed out that the island had increased its testing capacity, as PAHO had given additional testing kits to the Government of Barbados.
He said Government was also purchasing more kits, with the first set scheduled to arrive on April 4. A second batch is due a few weeks after, and a third set will follow later.