Authorities today received a strong warning against giving any consideration to quarantining scores of Nigerians set to begin studies here after one of the students tested positive for the contagious skin infection, scabies.
The warning was issued by attorney David Comissiong, who, along with Pan Africanists Robert Bobby Clarke and Trevor Prescod, met with the students for more than an hour at the Casa Grande Hotel where the student are staying.
The meeting followed emergency talks last evening at Government headquarters that was attended by health officials, as well as Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith, Chief Immigration Officer Erene Griffith, and representatives of the Defence Force.
While revealing that one of the Nigerians returned home yesterday and a representative of the African state was due on island tomorrow, Comissiong issued harsh words of advice to the Barbadian authorities.
“We want to say to the Government of Barbados if you are thinking about taking these guests of ours and isolating them on an army base we need you to think again. That would be a reprehensible thing to do, it would be an anti-African thing to do, it would be a racist thing to do because there is no way no governmental authority in Barbados would even dream about taking a group of white Europeans or North American visitors and isolating them in an army camp because one of them has itchy skin,” the attorney was firmly.
Minutes earlier, he, along with Clarke and Prescod publicly embraced some of the students in a show of support.
Comissiong contended that the students could have contracted the disease in Trinidad where they stayed for three weeks or in Barbados where they have spent the last two weeks.
He was also upset that the Barbados Community College did not appear to have systems in place to cater for the Nigerians.
The Pan Africanist insisted the Nigerians had done nothing wrong, while arguing that the authorities had a duty to them.
“All of them have a moral and ethical responsibility to these students. They knew months ago that these students were coming to Barbados to do courses at the Barbados Community College. A contract was actually signed several months ago,” he pointed out.
“We are saying BCC, if you’re not ready, make yourself ready. Do what is necessary now to accommodate these students; make the effort. It is not good enough for the Barbados Community College and the Government of Barbados to simply do like Pontius Pilate and say ‘we are not ready, we wash our hands off this matter’. That could never be right.”
Security has since been tightened at the hotel with only guests and workers being allowed not the compound, one security guard said.