(BARBADOS TODAY) — The 81-year-old man who succumbed to COVID-19 complications on Saturday night was not placed in an isolation facility or on mandatory self-quarantine despite arriving from the United Kingdom on the day that mandatory quarantine was scheduled to be implemented.
Top healthcare officials have also revealed that contrary to public directives, the Barbadian couple yesterday presented themselves to a local hospital with symptoms of the deadly illness.
Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, told a virtual press conference this morning, the deceased, a diabetic, quickly worsened after being admitted. News of his death reached the Minister on Saturday night.
His wife was admitted to the Enmore facility as a precaution but her condition is said to be stable.
When asked if the couple had been quarantined on their return from overseas, Head of Infection and Disease Control Dr Corey Forde replied at today’s press conference: “No, the patient was not in home quarantine nor did we have him in quarantine at that time.”
Minister Bostic then disclosed that the couple was not placed under mandatory quarantine because such measures were not yet imposed for persons arriving from the U.K.
“The persons to whom you are referring were not required to mandatorily quarantine because mandatory quarantine ordered for the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States would have been issued after they returned to Barbados,” he said. It was on March 19 that Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced mandatory self-quarantine for anyone arriving in Barbados.
This was repeated days later by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds.
“Any person arriving from the U.S.A, The United Kingdom or Europe will have to be placed in a quarantine facility or self-quarantine for 14 days going forward,” revealed Prime Minister Mottley.
“These quarantine arrangements will be for all persons arriving from Sunday, the 22nd of March to allow people to plan out their business because you are dealing with the movement of Barbadians coming home as well as persons who are already on island who are choosing to leave the country,” she added.
On Sunday, March 22, the Tourism Minister repeated the announcement, adding that the measure has resulted in a “dramatic escalation” in the number of cancellations in tickets, flights, and accommodations.
Since then, Barbados TODAY has spoken with several returning nationals who indicated that they were not instructed or encouraged to self-isolate after returning from a number of high-risk destinations around the time of PM Mottley’s announcement.
Nevertheless, they opted to isolate of their own free will.
It is still unclear at what stage the couple became contagious and who they may have come into contacted with almost seven days since their return home.
Repeated efforts to reach the Minister of Health for clarification have been unsuccessful.
During Sunday’s press conference, Acting Chief Medical Officer Anton Best reported that 527 tests were conducted for COVID-19 with an additional four cases confirmed.
They include 28 males and 28 females ranging from age seven to 83.
According to the CMO, most cases are imported, but three are still being investigated to determine the source of the infection.