Barbadians are to usher in the New Year from their homes, as a curfew has been ordered at the stroke of midnight while the authorities probe a baffling outbreak of coronavirus infections among Barbadians with no travel histories.
Declaring she was taking immediate action to protect citizens and guests, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced a nightly midnight to 5 a.m. curfew until January 14.
Old Year’s Night “commercial fetes” are to be cancelled but Government is to provide compensation to affected promoters and event planners, she said.
Some 65 events were registered with the Government’s COVID-19 Monitoring Unit and the organisers are in line to receive compensation for the loss of perishable items, the PM said.
Church services to keep the traditional vigil over the passage of 2020 into 2021 have been allowed to go ahead but must all end by 11 p.m.
Restaurants must also close by 11 p.m.
Now, the Ministry of Health is zeroing in on Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds in St Philip to test for the virus after two prison officers tested positive for COVID-19.
The two are in a batch of five local residents of a total of ten new positive cases reported on Thursday, prompting a hastily called news conference to announce the curfew and a mass testing campaign at the prison.
Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said: “We have five cases that we are actively pursuing and investigating. And these cases are of concern to us because these are cases that we cannot link at this time to persons who had travelled recently.
“In other words, the five cases suggest there is local transmission and I repeat, local transmission.
“There is no community spread in Barbados at this time.”
The Ministry of Health is now tracing the contacts of five people: two men from Christ Church, two St James men, and a St Thomas woman.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George said that the five cases are:
A 37-year-old male from Christ Church
A 28-year-old man from St James
A 43-year-old female from St Thomas
An 18-year-old man from Christ Church
A 43-year-old man from St James
Dr George said that three of the five have “minor symptoms that suggested that they were infected with COVID but as we indicated none of them has a travel history”. He said measures are in place to ensure that every individual associated with the patients will be tested.
Lt. Col. Bostic disclosed that the Ministry of Health has begun working with prison authorities to launch a “massive campaign at the prison intended to test every single person who works at the prison over the next 48 hours and that is inclusive of prisoners, prison wardens and also civilian staff and that is going to be going on for the next 48 hours as I said and we will continue to throw as many of our resources as we need to in terms of the other cases.
“We intend to bring this matter to clarity once we have all the facts available, he stressed.
Headline photo caption: Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley