Barbados Government Denies Rumour of Coronavirus Deaths

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday March 11, 2020 – The Barbados Government has denied reports circulating online that a family of three has died from the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

An undated story from a source identifying itself as News NT, had claimed that the deaths were announced by the island’s lone acute care facility, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

But a statement issued by the government last night said that was far from the truth.

“Barbadians should note that the story is entirely untrue and up to tonight no one in the country had tested positive for COVID 19, neither resident nor visitor,” it said.

It added that for more than eight hours yesterday, senior local officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, led by Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best met first with representatives of the Government, Social Partnership and regional health experts, and then with permanent secretaries and heads of department to look at the country’s readiness to respond to the virus.

Those meetings were all chaired by Prime Minister Mia Mottley who also addressed the country during an afternoon press conference.

During those discussions, health officials reiterated that to date, Barbados remains free of the virus, but on watch.

Barbadians have been advised to refer to the websites of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization and the Barbados Government Information Service when seeking credible information on COVID-19.

The virus, which originated in China, has now spread to 114 countries, including nearby Jamaica which recorded its first case yesterday, the Dominican Republic, Martinique, Saint Martin and St Barts.

At yesterday’s press conference, Prime Minister Mottley announced several measures that Government has put in place to respond to the threat of COVID-19.  These include the appointment of a Czar with responsibility for coordinating the national response.

No-one suspected to have COVID-19 will be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Two quarantine facilities have been established in the northern parish of St Lucy with a 40-bed capacity. The Barbados Defence Force’s Paragon Base in Christ Church has also been readied and has capacity for between 250 and 280 quarantine beds. Buildings at Harrison’s Point, St Lucy, are being renovated to house a quarantine centre to accommodate between 120 and 140 beds, and an isolation facility with the capacity for 56 beds, 20 of which will be equipped with ventilators for more severe patients.

She added that an isolation facility, which has capacity for six beds, is ready, and the Medical Field Hospital at the Barbados Defence Force has the capacity for 40 isolation beds.

Total isolation capacity will stand at 102 beds.

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