Barbados says starting this week, it will be in a position to screen positive coronavirus (COVID-19) cases for all variants of the virus as the authorities urged people to get vaccinated in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease.
Health and Wellness Minister retired, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said that the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory should be in a position to screen positive COVID-19 cases for all variants and that equipment, which had been sent overseas to be recalibrated to facilitate the screening had been returned.
“I am happy to say that there is going to be some validation over this weekend to make sure that the shipping process did not affect the calibration. Once that is successful, then the lab would be in a position to be able to screen all positive cases for all of the variants.
“This is a significant step in the process; this will allow us to see exactly what we’re dealing with,” said Bostic, noting that the public health laboratory had already started screening for the Alpha variant.
He told reporters that primers received from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) would assist the lab in testing for other variants and that the ministry had sent off more samples to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for screening.
Bostic also disclosed that the British High Commission in Barbados had made an offer to assist in this regard, while not going into detail.
“The most important thing, really, is the fact that hopefully from next week, once all goes well this weekend, we’ll be in a position to do the screening for all positive cases, so we will be able to do the first screening for all of the variants,” Bostic emphasised.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, is urging persons, particularly young people and those who work in health care facilities, to come forward and be vaccinated against COVID-19.
There are presently over 94,000 persons living in Barbados who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and about 69,000 persons who have had their second dose and are fully vaccinated.
“This is good, but we need to improve on this. And there are some special groups I would like to encourage to come forward to make sure that they are vaccinated,” the Chief Medical Officer said.
He noted that the island had already received two sets of vaccines through the COVAX Facility after starting off with 100,000 vaccines through a donation from the Government of India. In addition, he noted that the Sinopharm vaccine was expected to arrive on the island shortly.