BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced on Tuesday night that the Ministry of Health and Wellness will begin health checks of Barbadians in their homes during the February 3-17 lockdown.
In a televised address, she said ministry officials would be knocking on doors to survey occupants about their health, and checking for symptoms of COVID-19.
“We want to give our healthcare system and our healthcare professionals a chance to not only fight this, but to win this battle,” Mottley said.
“This lockdown that we are calling, this pause, this national reset, is going to be necessary in order for us to give ourselves also a chance, to go into the community, house by house by house.”
The Prime Minister disclosed that The University of the West Indies and the Ministry of Health and Wellness would work together to effectively roll out the programme, and it would be led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott, who is also chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on COVID-19.
She revealed that one aspect of the plan is to go into the communities by organising the island into polling districts.
“We have 300 polling districts. We need at least 300 persons going into the community on a parallel track, so that over the course of 10 to 12 days, we are able to get into as many houses as possible; ask persons through a questionnaire, that is already being used by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, with respect to symptoms to get a sense of those who have symptoms, and then to use the rapid antigen tests to ensure that we can pick out of the community and take for treatment immediately, all persons who are positive,” Mottley explained.
“I say we are going to wage war on COVID. I mean it,” she stressed, while calling on all Barbadians to stay at home and in their communities, so agents of the ministry could get to them and rule them out through the rapid antigen tests, which is 99 per cent accurate for persons who are symptomatic.
Meantime, Mottley has urged all persons over the age of 70 to remain at home for the next three weeks, unless it is absolutely necessary for them to leave to go in search of medical care, or purchase food supplies or medicine because of dire circumstances.
Speaking directly to the elderly, whom she described as the country’s most vulnerable group, she stated: “You need to protect yourself. And importantly, I am saying to you, we need to protect you, and we shall. For now, let it be noted that all persons over 70 should remain at home, unless urgent circumstances warrant…. Urgent in this instance, does not include funerals. I want to stress that, but in any event, funerals and other events will come back down to where they were with respect to earlier protocols.”
Mottley also urged elderly persons to reach out to family members and close friends to assist them with any errands.
Three elderly people have died of COVID-19 in a week, bringing the number of deaths since the start of the pandemic to 10.
According to the latest statistics provided on Wednesday, the number of active cases on the island is 360. Since March 2020, Barbados has recorded 1,427 cases.