Sunday 31 May, 2020

COVID-19 Update: To mask up or not? CMO answers five questions

Acting CMO Dr Anton Best (right) and COVID-19 Czar Richard Carter

Acting CMO Dr Anton Best (right) and COVID-19 Czar Richard Carter

Barbados' Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best answers five pertinent COVID-19 questions, including, 'To mask up or not to mask up?' 

In the hot seat yesterday (April 5), Best reassured the public that as the research continues and new findings come to light almost daily in relation to COVID-19, if the directives or measures need to be amended it will be done.

He was answering questions from journalists during Sunday's press conference.

Can masks be worn by persons who are COVID-negative or who are perceived to have a low risk of having COVID-19?

When questioned about the Ministry’s official position on wearing of masks or facial covering Dr Best informed that in light of the fact that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the stance has changed.

Dr Best: "We no longer object to such". The Ministry now shared a similar position.

What type of masks should persons in the public wear?

Dr Best stressed that the N95 and surgical masks should only be used in health care settings and discouraged members of the general public from purchasing those types.  He said that cloth masks can be made or purchased and worn.


Besides wearing masks, what other steps can be taken?

Dr Best re-emphasized the importance of social distancing as well as for good respiratory and hand hygiene practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He also reinforced that persons need to stay indoors.

Why is Barbados not on a 14-day 24-hour curfew?

The 24-hour curfew went into place on April 3 and was set to end on April 14, with the normal hours of service resuming April 15, 2020.

Dr Best said that Barbados' curfew and the incubation period for the virus which is causing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), SARS CoV-2 coronavirus, are not connected.

He said the 14-day incubation period of the virus had no bearing on the length of the shutdown period as that was determined by other factors, but aggressive surveillance would continue.

What is 'aggressive surveillance'?

Dr Best: This would include testing for COVID-19 where suspected, continued contact tracing efforts as well as the containment and isolation of new cases.

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