BROOKLYN, NY– Barbadians will now remain on lockdown until the end of the month, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced Monday, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to climb.
On the same day that it was announced the island had recorded the first death of a healthcare worker due to the virus, Mottley said that the period of “national pause,” which was to end on February 17, would continue until February 28.
“We are going to require a little more time to do what has to be done,” Mottley said.
The Prime Minister said there would be an estimated loss in economic activity of about BDS$150 million (US$75 million) as a result of the extended lockdown.
“This is not an easy decision that we’ve had to make. I met this morning with my finance and economic team, and I asked a simple question: Can this country withstand any further extension of the period of pause or stop as we’re now hearing from our public health officials. The simple answer from the finance and economic team is ‘yes, we will be hurt by any further extension, but it will not kill our economy, and it will not collapse our economy,’” Mottley said, adding that over the weekend, she also had extensive discussions with regional and hemispheric officials, including the International Monetary Fund. They all agreed that “the economic impact of the lockdown, while rough, can be withstood by the Barbados economy.”
“The advisors have indicated to me that it is likely that we will come in at just under BDS$78 million (US$39 million)for this first part of the lockdown, in terms of loss of economic activity. If we go for an additional period of time – just under two weeks – then the most that will be is probably another BDS$70 million-$75 million (US$35 million-$37.5 million). So that we are potentially looking at a loss of about BDS$150 million (US$75 million) in economic activity for February.”
The 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in place until February 28. The only changes are that the post office will reopen on Thursday to facilitate the cashing of pension cheques; remittance offices will also open; and minimarts, which were not allowed to operate during the lockdown, will be allowed to open Mondays to Fridays, like the supermarkets.
Both minimarts and supermarkets will be closed on weekends.
Prime Minister Mottley’s announcement came after Minister of Health Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic disclosed in a statement that a Queen Elizabeth Hospital nursing assistant had died on Sunday as a result of COVID-19. She passed away at the Harrison Point Isolation Facility, where she had been a patient for nine days.
“As the first health care worker to die from COVID-19 in Barbados, her death shook the nursing and health care communities yesterday,” Bostic said on Monday.
“Before yesterday, Barbados had so far been spared the loss of any of its health care workers, and the cases of COVID among the QEH staff have largely been the result of community spread and not direct patient to caregiver contact.
“If this young woman’s life is not to be in vain, her death must share two lessons with the rest of this country. Those lessons are: 1) that COVID is no respecter of the age of persons and all of us must take it seriously; 2) that we in this country owe a responsibility to each other, to our communities, to our families to be more thoughtful, caring and protective of each other and to follow the health and safety protocols, or we will be placing not only ourselves but someone else in harm’s way,” he added.
The nursing assistant’s death brings 25 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the first case here in March 2020.
Up to Saturday, Barbados had recorded 2,268 confirmed cases.
However, test results have been slow recently because of the inability to obtain a critical reagent for testing—that required lab technicians to use manual extraction, which made the process longer and created a new backlog. A supply of the binding reagent is now in Barbados, and the laboratory is in the process of clearing the backlog.