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Coronavirus deaths and cases rise in the Caribbean

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Jamaican Observer – BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic continue to affect Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries and some regional states are again urging its nationals to comply with the various measures and protocols aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.

While the Bahamas, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago continue to record deaths almost on a daily basis, islands like St Vincent and the Grenadines were reporting increased positive cases of the virus.

The authorities in Kingstown reported that there were now four new COVID-19 active cases after an adult traveller arrived from the United States on Sunday with a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result.

“All of the close contacts have been informed and will continue in quarantine as per their medical officer’s orders,” the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) said, adding that the adult will remain in isolation until cleared by two negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test results.

In the Bahamas, where the number of positive cases is 5,923, the authorities reported 150 new cases over the past 24 hours.

They said that New Providence continues to have the highest number of cases among the group of islands making up the archipelago with 4, 541, followed by Grand Bahama with 671 and Abaco with 162.

The country has recorded 124 deaths, including that of a 64-year-old woman from New Providence. There are 24 non-COVID-19 deaths and 14 others under investigation.

In St Lucia, where the 37th case was recorded on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said the 43-year old male from the northern town of Gros-Islet has been linked to previous cases and placed in quarantine.

“With these newly diagnosed cases, all efforts are being made to rapidly respond in order to contain further spread of infection,” the authorities said, adding that they are “grateful for the support which has been provided to our public health team undertaking contact tracing and community-based interventions”.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has called on the public to pay attention to official sources of information regarding COVID-19 and reject fake and second-hand news.

“From all we have heard COVID-19 could be with us for a while, so we must learn to manage it, act responsibly and refrain from spreading any fear or panic,” it said in a statement cautioning against stigma and discrimination against teachers, students and staff, particularly those of a secondary school where a 14-year-old male student and a 62-year-old female worker are among individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I want to continue to reassure the public, parents and guardians, that we are committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our nation’s children, teachers and ancillary staff and I ask the public to continue to cooperate with us, and to adhere to the protocols because the only way we can overcome this is if we do it together,” said Education Minister Dr Gale Rigobert.

In Belize, figures released by the Office of the Director of Health Services, noted that 53 new cases were identified over the past 24 hours from a total of 339 samples.

The office said that 35 recovered cases from the virus and a total of 38.6 per cent of cases remain active.

Belize has recorded 2,886 positive cases with 1,114 being active. It has reported 45 deaths.

The Ministry of Health in Guyana reported 31 new COVID-19 cases after 121 tests, pushing the total known cases to 3,796.

It said there are 14 patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit, 67 in institutional isolation and 805 in home isolation. An additional 41 individuals who came in contact with a positive patient are in institutional quarantine.

To date, 114 people have died and 2,796 have recovered.

One person died in Trinidad & Tobago over the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.

It said 35 people have tested positive and that the deceased was an elderly male with pre-existing medical conditions. His death brings the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 98.

The country has 1,477 active cases and there are 1,346 people isolated at home and 369 in state quarantine facilities.

There have been 56 recovered community cases and a total of 3,758 recovered patients. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is 5,333.

In Barbados, health authorities are complaining that people who have been ordered into COVID-19 quaratine are breaching the order.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George, in a statement, said the Ministry of Health and Wellness had received at least four recent reports of people, both locals and visitors to the island, leaving approved quarantine facilities without the permission.

“I wish to issue a strong warning to everyone who has been placed in quarantine in Barbados that this practice will not be tolerated, and when identified, abusers will be brought before the courts and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“Quarantine is a means of separating persons from the general population who may have been exposed to COVID-19, but who are not showing signs of disease,” said Dr George, adding: “It is mandatory for all persons arriving in Barbados from countries categorised as high risk to go into quarantine for a period of four to five days from the receipt of their first valid negative COVID-19 PCR test”.

He said at the end of the period, they are retested and if they continue to be negative for the virus are discharged from quarantine.

“The practice of quarantine is a well-accepted public health measure to control and limit the spread of disease. Persons in quarantine are prohibited from leaving the quarantine facility, accepting visitors, or mixing with the public.

“Persons in breach in any of the above stipulations will, on summary conviction, be subject to a fine of BDS$50,000 (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents), imprisonment for one year, or both.”

Dr George said Barbados has been very successful so far in keeping COVID-19 out of its general population, due in no small measure to the cooperation and responsible behaviour of residents.

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