BARBADOS: COVID Paralysis Versus VS COVID Management Compared – Opinion

Submitted by Richard Petko to the Barbados Underground Blog

The past two weeks has seen a national pause and a furtherance of the pause. What are the actual goals of the pause? What are the goalposts for re-opening? What are the goals for tourism? These are all valid questions and I think they should be asked and answered. Before answering it is pertinent to see what other Caribbean jurisdictions which are considered as world class as Barbados are doing.       

Barbados Population 285,000

  • Cases daily 30-60
  • Masks – everywhere
  • Curfew – 7pm to 6am
  • Schools – closed
  • Economy – mostly shut down, supermarkets open M-F 8-4
  • Activity – Beaches and parks 6-9am
  • Tourism – PCR test to enter, antigen test at airport, 5 day hotel room quarantine, test followup
  • Airlift International – 3-5 flights per day
  • Positive Covid on Island – Residents & Tourists sent to government isolation facility for indefinite period of time no matter what their symptoms

Costa Rica Population 5 million

  • Cases daily 300-450
  • Masks – indoors
  • Curfew – None
  • Schools – Open
  • Economy – Open – everything open
  • Activity – everything open
  • Tourism – NO PCR test required of anyone
  • Airlift International – 20-23 daily flights
  • Positive test In Country – isolate at home, only sick people go to hospital

Aruba Population 105,000

  • Cases daily 20-50
  • Masks – indoors
  • Curfew – 11pm
  • Schools – Open
  • Economy – Open – everything open
  • Activity – Everything open
  • Tourism – PCR test required 72 hours old
  • Airlift International – 24-30 daily flights
  • Positive Test in Island – Tourist and Locals isolate at home, only sick people go to hospital

I think it is quite evident to see that in Costa Rica and Aruba we have governments that are managing Covid and the economy. They are not banning tourism and have come to the realization that Covid is an endemic respiratory virus that you should not be destroying your economy over. The per capita case numbers are the same in all 3 countries. It is the response that is clearly different.

It is probably shocking for many to see that you can fly to Costa Rica without a PCR test, that everything is open and somehow the country has not had a medical or economic collapse.

It is my opinion that this government is acting in an irrational panic rather than managing the issue. The country always praises its robust health care system, which has been bolstered by the arrival of 120 Cuban doctors and nurses. Harrison’s Point offers a large enough facility to house all the truly sick people from infection. I feel one of the biggest mistakes is taking every single sars-cov2 positive person into isolation. The data from studies in China and by the WHO now clearly show asymptomatic transmission of Covid is miniscule (roughly 3%). Needlessly putting an asymptomatic 37-year-old into isolation simply strains the resources of the facility. Not to mention the fact people are being taken away definitely makes them hesitant to go for tests or to share health information with others.

Barbados is better than this peripatetic response seen these past 2 weeks. Sars-Cov2 is here and is going nowhere. Locking up people in their houses until February 28th is not going to change anything.

It is time to do the following.

  • Open up the entire economy immediately
  • Open up all the schools to in-person teaching – this sacrifice of our children’s education over a respiratory virus will be the shame that will be focused upon in the history books
  • Open up tourism – Go with a 72 hour old PCR test on arrival. This is truly not needed as Covid is here and endemic, but for a couple of months it will appease a portion of the population. However, the point is there is no need to worry if 1 of 100 tourists arrives here with Covid when 5-10% of Bajans are testing positive for it.
  • Isolate only sick covid patients and focus health on them
  • Continue with a rapid rollout of the vaccination program, ensure enough vaccines arrive by the end of March for everyone who wants one to receive one.
  • Start a public campaign to truly educate people about the disease and the management plan
  • Encourage mask use indoors only – outdoor mask use is nonsense and everyone knows it, by dictating such a policy it discourages people to listen to the valid pronouncements of public health authorities
  • Stop this nonsense of stores and businesses testing their entire staff if someone tests positive for sars-cov2. If a supermarket in Florida has a positive test, they don’t shut down the market and test the 200 employees. It makes absolutely no scientific sense and actually has been discouraged by the covid task force. It should be mandated that it should not be done. This would be simple by not allowing the Beth Dos Santos Lab to process any tests from such establishments.

The above are simple and will lead Barbados out of this COVID situation much faster and more robust than any national pause.

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