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Possible disaster

Opposition wants urgent action on Ebola, Chik V

Act with urgency to keep the deadly Ebola virus out of Barbados and prevent further spread of the Chikungunya virus.

That is the call to the Freundel Stuart administration from Shadow Minister of Health Dr Maria Agard and her Barbados Labour Party colleagues Senator Wilfred Abrahams and MP for the City Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, as they expressed concern that both diseases had the potential to be catastrophic for this country.

In a media conference today at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, they called on Government to enhance scrutiny at all ports of entry while ensuring that everyone in the travel industry was sensitized and educated about how to identify the symptoms of Ebola and address any suspected cases.

Abrahams expressed concern that Barbados was not ready to deal with the disease that has already claimed more than 3,800 lives in West Africa. There has also been one confirmed death in the American state of Texas, and another two cases in Spain.

QEH PREPARED The construction of a fully-equipped Isolation Unit at the Enmore Health Centre of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is well underway. Last month, Minister of Health John Boyce announced that the four-bed facility would be part of the Ministry’s action plan to ensure the island is fully prepared to deal with highly contagious infectious diseases, including Ebola.

The construction of a fully-equipped Isolation Unit at the Enmore Health Centre of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is well underway. Last month, Minister of Health John Boyce announced that the four-bed facility would be part of the Ministry’s action plan to ensure the island is fully prepared to deal with highly contagious infectious diseases, including Ebola.

“Ebola is crossing the borders of countries. I would like a situation where no one in Barbados ever contracts it or no person who has contracted Ebola manages to make it to Barbados. But what if they do and we are unprepared?” he questioned.

“This is where our authorities need to not just simply say to us ‘we are taking all necessary steps’. Let them . . . tell us what those steps are and where exactly we are in our preparation for this because I am not comfortable that if there was an outbreak of Ebola in Barbados it could be dealt with.”

“Our economy would sink . . . As a tourist destination, any outbreak of anything would cripple our economy,” Abrahams warned.

Bostic added: “To me it is a national security threat; Ebola as well as Chikungunya . . . . By now we should see signs emerging of authorities treating these matters as though they are threats to the national security of Barbados. Until I see those signs I will remain wary as to what they are doing.”

As for Chikungunya, Agard said while 40 cases have been confirmed in Barbados, there were “hundreds of suffering patients” manifesting symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease “everyday”.

“Even as they await confirmation many are stricken, rendered virtually immobile by the crippling effects of joint and muscle pains, headache, fever and internal bleeding. Rendered unable to work, hundreds of productive hours have been lost as those afflicted struggle to overcome their illness,” Agard said, with Bostic adding that his business of 55 workers was down by about nine people due to employees experiencing Chikungunya-like symptoms.

“While the polyclinics call for personal responsibility – and we endorse that call – we maintain that our Ministers of Government, especially the Ministers of Health [John Boyce]and the Environment [Dr Denis Lowe] must act with urgency to place all critical resources at the disposal of our health facilitators to eradicate this . . . threat.

“We do not have the luxury of hiding behind a confirmed figure of 40 cases, when we know that hundreds more have been afflicted. We urge our Ministers of Health and the Environment to treat the Chikungunya infection in Barbados as if it was a national crisis now. We must act decisively now,” Agard insisted.

Adding that other Caribbean islands had put definitive measures in place to deal with the disease, the Opposition members also criticized Boyce and Lowe for travelling overseas and “ignoring their national responsibility” in relation to dealing with the disease.

Agard pointed to overgrown bush across the island, an increase in the population of rodents, flies and mosquitoes, as well as mounting garbage, as contributing to the problem.

She said while she understood that the Government was faced with “difficult economic times” it needed to find a way to preserve the health of Barbadians at all costs.

The trio warned that failure to address the situation with urgency could devastate the island’s law enforcement, education and tourism sectors.

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17 Responses to Possible disaster

  1. Sarah Pomeranz Layne
    Sarah Pomeranz Layne October 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Just out of pure curiosity, has anyone bothered to check that the site of the “only” 4 bed facility is located a mere yards from a primary school???

  2. Beverley St John
    Beverley St John October 9, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Acting with a sense of urgency is too tall of an order for this Government to fill bozie!

  3. Cecily Jones
    Cecily Jones October 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    It is extremely worrying when the politicians and the medical professions are saying very different and conflicting things about our ability and preparedness to deal with Ebola…I have to say, the docs are on the frontline and know what the situation is…wouldn’t trust any government minister’s word on our preparedness to deal with Ebola or any other communicable disease…it may be the case that there are only 40 confirmed cases but I guess folks know that these are just the few who have bothered to turn up at the hospital etc. I know at least 6 pimple with Chick V and these are all from a small corner of Bdos…suspect figures nationally are much higher than government claims…

  4. Lise Hansen
    Lise Hansen October 10, 2014 at 3:33 am

    be careful …….

  5. Linda Baker
    Linda Baker October 10, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Like most things, in life, we have to go with what goverment wants us to do. Its all countries effected with the not knowing wether its going to come into their country. Lets hope all is done to contain this horrible out burst

    • Emma St.John
      Emma St.John October 10, 2014 at 6:28 am

      , I don’t think any isolation centre (for ANY infectious disease) should be placed within feet of a primary school. That view is from my sons CLASSROOM.

  6. Suzanne Johnson October 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

    And then, what about the “students” that are scheduled to be brought in from Nigeria and asking BAJANS to open their homes to them….madness….better leave those “students” right where they are….

  7. Damon Gerard Corrie October 10, 2014 at 7:10 am

    I have a very uneasy feeling about this location, the only place ‘better’ for a potential multiple transmission accident (Enmore lies between 3 schools – one of which is merely on the other side of a chain-link fence where my daughter and nephew are pupils – and the Hospital – where ALREADY weakened immune system masses frequent)…would be to place this ‘Isolation Unit’ in the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal.

  8. Anna October 10, 2014 at 9:37 am

    This centre will be backing a primary school!
    That makes no sense!!!
    There are 6 school close to this area:
    St. Angela’s
    St. Ursula’s
    St. Michael’s
    St. Gabriel’s
    St. Patricks
    St. Winifred’s

  9. Michael Turton October 10, 2014 at 9:42 am

    This Ebola threat is not a political issue and should be serious debated in Parliament without DLP/BLP focus but with the interest of the country being the focus. The best areas of isolation in my view would have been the district hospital in ST Lucy or the Cadet Camp at Paragon. the Cadet Camp would be my number one choice it offer good isolation and security. Additionally since this is an issue that effects every bajan we need public forums with these ministers ………….

  10. David E. Bratt MD October 10, 2014 at 9:51 am

    An “Isolation Centre” next to a Primary school? That is unacceptable.

  11. Nick October 10, 2014 at 10:10 am

    This centre should not be located in such a densely populated area, far less, feet from where kids play and eat food. The ministry of health recently removed the asbestos roof from those said buildings, with no care or consideration for the kids in that school. There were broken up bits of asbestos all over the floor of the buildings and in the grass outside. Heads need to roll!! Somebody please deal with that ministry soon especially the people who remove asbestos. Gov’t should have a representative present to enforce the correct procedures and NOT the same guy who owns the company doing the job.

    As for a disease centre… that should be located at the army barracks at the airport. It would minimise the risk of exposure involved with transport and the BDF can police such a facility as it is a national treat.

  12. Elissa October 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    The footer under the photo says “to ensure that the island is fully prepared to deal with highly contagious infectious diseases,” and I repeat HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS INFECTIOUS DISEASES. This is a concern for all of us who have children, not only at St. Angela’s & St. Ursula’s but ALL schools in the area. Children and elderly people are the ones who are at a higher risk of contracting any disease and the MOH is placing this unit next to a school!!!!! This is madness.

  13. Alex Currie October 10, 2014 at 11:14 am

    I think it only reasonable that anyone carrying a passport that links them to west Africa should not be allowed to board a plan in those countries unless they have voluntarily gone into supervised quarantine for 21 days prior to departure.
    Anyone who has left that area to travel to other parts of Africa or Europe must also have been gone from those countries with Ebola for 21 days and submit to medical examination before being allowed aboard a plane for the Americas. Asia and indeed Barbados.
    Tough times need tough measures.

  14. shana October 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    No isolation unit should be place in the major hospital of a country. QEH is located in the heart of the city of Barbados. It is surrounded by schools and main bus terminal. Bridgetown is main commute area for Barbados and it has the largest flow of people. This decision is definitely not well taught through.

  15. Morris Redman October 10, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    I have prepared programs to formulate or evaluat3e such viruses as EBOLA WITH a mergency Preparedness and Response program and I am available to work for CRICOM and or Barbados at short notice.


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