With the number of local COVID-19 positive cases increasing by more than eightfold within 24 hours, the island has been placed on a stricter curfew.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, tonight revealed 45 positive cases had been recorded today, a major uptick from Thursday’s five cases.
Of that number, 32 are prison officers while four are members of the Barbados Defence Force.
He revealed that more than half of them had attended a bus crawl held by prison officers on Boxing Day.
Bostic said the bus crawl was now considered a “super spreader event”.
With complete testing of the prison expected to be concluded by 2 a.m. tomorrow, more than 150 prison officers have already been placed in a quarantine facility.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George revealed that Government had scaled up its contact tracing efforts and a 24-hour operation was now in effect.
He said it would involve over 100 persons, including medical staff, environmental health officers, nursing staff and medical records clerks.
Dr George said currently there were 48 persons in isolation at the Harrison’s Point facility, of which 12 were in primary care and 32 were in tertiary care – which meant they were mainly asymptomatic.
Within minutes of that news being disclosed, Prime Minister Mia Mottley told Barbadians she had been informed that even more positive cases had been confirmed.
While she said a definitive number had not been given, she said the grave situation meant further restrictions had to be enforced.
Mottley, who gave notice yesterday of a 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew from January 1, 2021, to January 14, announced that curfew would now be extended from 9 p.m. for the next week and possibly longer.
Additionally, she advised that there were to be no large gatherings or socials.
“I have therefore advised the Attorney General to draft a further directive that will allow us to institute a curfew from 9 o’clock at night from tomorrow January 2, for the next seven nights until January 9, but with the proviso that we may extend it until January 14 or longer if necessary,” the Prime Minister said during a live televised press conference at Ilaro Court.
“That dampener is to still allow persons to be able to go about their business and to do their work, but at the same time to ensure that we reduce significantly the numbers of persons moving about.
“With those measures in place we also believe that with immediate effect that we were allowing official gathering of persons up to 50 or more, but now that we have seen the increased numbers of positives I would equally advise the Attorney General that there are to be no banquets, social gatherings, fetes, limes of any number whatsoever,” Mottley further added.
However, the Prime Minister said she still saw no reason to close the island’s borders to visitors from England or any other high-risk countries.
Mottley said the island’s chief medical officer had advised against such a move.
In condemning the bus crawl, Mottley called on Barbadians to desist from partying during the pandemic.
“As it relates to the wider issue of public health, we have to be more serious. I don’t know where we have gotten drunk with this notion that the only way we can enjoy ourselves is with music and alcohol and I have come to recognise that I have to speak frankly all the time.
“I’m not using a big set of long words or long talk to tell Barbadians to cut it out. Cut it out!” Mottley instructed.
She said she would also consider the possibility of making the wearing of masks mandatory if a greater effort was not made by Barbadians to properly wear them in the coming weeks. (RB)