BRIDGETOWN, Barbados– COVID-19 patients waiting too late to seek treatment for their symptoms contributes to the increase in the death toll from the virus, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic disclosed on Wednesday.
Back in January-February this year, an initiative called Operation Seek and Save was established to reach those remaining at home and presenting only when they were very sick. Minister Bostic said the situation is much worse now.
“Persons coming to Accident and Emergency are immediately having to be placed on oxygen because they are in poor condition. And so, I would continue to ask or beg our citizens to cooperate with us. It is essential that if we have elderly relatives or neighbors, we take care of them and bring them for treatment early when we can provide the assistance they require to try to save more lives. That is vital,” he said.
“The same thing for persons who are experiencing symptoms – whether they are elderly or young and they remain at home or continue working until it is too late so that when they are diagnosed, they are at a stage where they have to be sent to the isolation facilities. So, these are the challenges we are facing at the moment.”
He added that health officials were not as concerned as they previously were about the number of positive COVID-19 cases since there is widespread community transmission. The focus now, he said, had changed to saving lives and protecting livelihoods.
While noting that his Ministry faces many challenges in the COVID-19 fight, Bostic pointed out that some gains were made in a few areas.
He added that for “the last few days,” the respiratory clinic at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which was usually overwhelmed, did not have any patients.
The Health Minister also stated that the conversion of the Harrison’s Point Isolation Facility to a primary and secondary facility “with oxygen and medical air throughout the facility” was another gain.
He noted that the Ministry was “eagerly awaiting” the new oxygen plants purchased by Government, which should arrive on the island on Saturday.
Another testing facility was also opened on Monday, and another location for testing is also in the works.
“We have been able to establish a 24-hour Operations and Logistics cell at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which is manned by personnel from the Defence Force, Police Force, the Fire Service, and the Ministry, with liaison officers from the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism. And that has been working out very well for us. In addition, we have established an epidemiological unit, a special unit, to deal with this [COVID] situation. That, too, is going quite well,” Minister Bostic added.