Barbados: Over 200 staff of agency in quarantine over coronavirus

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Barbados: Over 200 staff of agency in quarantine over coronavirus
Minister of Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde
Minister of Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde

(BARBADOS NATION) – Five employees of the National Assistance Board (NAB) have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus over the past week and the Government of Barbados has placed the full staff complement in quarantine.

Two more cases were revealed overnight from 175 tests conducted by the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory. Of that amount, 52 results were available and Government is awaiting the other tests.

This brings the total number of positive cases in Barbados to 79.

Minister of Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde, under whose portfolio the NAB falls, however rushed to reassure Barbadians that the home helpers, who look after “thousands of our seniors and most vulnerable citizens” are not among the positive cases.

“I wish to make it clear from the outset, that none of the home helpers is today known to have come into contact with any of the administrative staff who have tested positive for the COVID-19,” she said in the latest virtual update by Government which included acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw and Minster of Health Jeffrey Bostic at Ilaro Court.

Forde said the first case was a clerical worker who is believed to have contracted the virus from a close relative who came into the country and was staying with her. The woman was asymptomatic and continued to work, but the Ministry of Health took her in for testing.

“This led to a decision to quarantine and to test all staff at the headquarters of the National Assistance Board. To date, 40 employees have been tested, and while the vast majority has been declared negative, only today another two members of staff tested positive, bringing to five the total number of National Assistance Board staff that have so far tested positive for the coronavirus,” the MP for St Thomas said.

The NAB has 225 staff and they will be quarantined in local hotels at Government’s expense, the Minister said. Another 107 will be tested today.

Forde said a contingency plan was in place to deal with the operations of the NAB so the care of the elderly was not compromised, but their focus was on the health of the NAB staff and psychologists have been brought in.

Bradshaw said they were deeply concerned about the latest cases because they were connected to three preceding and they were “seeing a worrisome scenario developing”.

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