BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago recorded deaths associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as Jamaica has indicated plans to restrict travel from Port of Spain, which has recorded increased cases of the Brazilian variant of the virus.
Barbados recorded its 45th death from the virus on Tuesday after almost a month after the last reported casualty, April 6.
Health and Wellness Minister retired Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said that the latest casualty is a 63-year-old male admitted to the Harrison Point Isolation Facility on April 23. He spent six days on a ventilator.
Bostic said that the 15 new positive cases reported in Monday’s COVID-19 dashboard reflect cases from Sunday, May 2, and included three persons from the Psychiatric Hospital, where there is a cluster.
Last week, the health authorities reported that 4 patients and one staff member on a ward at the facility had tested positive for the virus, and Bostic said since then, health officials had mounted an aggressive contact tracing and testing campaign to contain the situation.
“The situation at the Psychiatric Hospital internally is under some measure of control, and I say that because we still have to await the second tests, but from the first tests, we are satisfied that we have been able to do a level of containment that is necessary. What we are working on right now is to be able to complete that process and tighten up on the loose ends in terms of outpatients,” Bostic told television viewers.
“We have… established an isolation center on the compound of the hospital, which is being managed by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s isolation facilities team.”
The positive cases reported on Monday also include a family of eight, and the Health Minister said one member of the family had previously tested positive for COVID-19.
Bostic also disclosed that Barbados was inching closer to its target of 25 [COVID-19] cases per 100,000 people in the population, adding that as of May 1, the country averaged 31.3 cases per 100,000 over a 14-day period.
“We are improving in our situation, but we still have COVID in Barbados. I believe one of the things beyond everything is that… we must strive very hard to reach herd immunity in terms of having the percentage of our population vaccinated that would allow us to do this. Once we can do that, combined with all of our other efforts, this will allow us to return to a state of normalcy …. and to sustain it,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jamaica has indicated that it intends to restrict travel from Trinidad and Tobago following increases in cases of the virus, including the Brazilian variant.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley told a news conference that he had been in discussions with his Jamaican counterpart regarding the situation.
Rowley told reporters that Prime Minister Andre Holness had during the discussions paid him the “courtesy” of informing him on Sunday of the planned travel ban.
“Jamaica will put Trinidad and Tobago on a restriction list of countries from which persons cannot travel, largely because of our acknowledgment that we have the P1 virus [Brazilian variant] here,” Rowley said, indicating that the restriction should have been announced in Kingston on Monday.
In the latest bulletin, the Ministry of Health said five more people had died from the virus. It said that three were older men with comorbidities, one was a middle-aged man with no comorbidities. The ministry said it is awaiting information on the fifth. The total number of deaths from the virus is 179.
It said158 new cases had been reported from samples taken between April 30 and May 2 and that the total number of active cases stood at 2,559. Since March 2020, there have been 11,471 cases. Of these, 8,733 have recovered.
The ministry said that there are now 240 people in hospitals and that there have been 90 recovered community cases, while 10 people have been discharged from public health facilities.
There are 238 people in state quarantine facilities and 2,132 people in home self-isolation.
On Monday, Epidemiologist Dr. Avery Hinds warned that if Trinidad and Tobago continued to record new COVID-19 infections at the current rate, the country could see upwards of 10,000 active cases by May 22.
Hinds said that based on an “alarming rate of cases,” there has been a 35 percent positivity rate, and the country could see its parallel healthcare system reach maximum capacity in seven to 10 days.
The parallel health system has a maximum of 542 beds in seven hospitals across the country.
On average, 14 of every 100 COVID-positive patients currently require hospitalization. According to the Acting Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards, the number of people discharged is approximately six out of every 100.
She, too, warned of a collapse of the system “within seven to 10 days.”
The government has since announced increased stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus, including discontinuing all retrial trade as well as food service that includes “what you call street food selling.”
The measures will remain in place until May 23.