Monday 28 September, 2020

Doctors, nurses want all medium, high-risk travellers tested for COVID

Travellers to Barbados who have pretested and those have no negative test result are separated at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Travellers to Barbados who have pretested and those have no negative test result are separated at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

Members of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) want mandatory testing on arrival and a reinstatement of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all travellers from medium and high-risk countries with retesting after one week.

Ackowledging tourism' crucial role in the country's economic development, the Association issued a statement on Monday (July 27) calling for the quarantining of persons tested on arrival.

Previously, between July 12 and July 23, Barbados mandated that persons arrive with proof that they have received a PCR tests no more than 72 hours ahead of their arrival and received a negative result, but if they had not pre-tested, they are tested at the testing facility at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) on arrival. Then persons from high-risk countries were to quarantine.

As of July 24, persons from high-risk countries with proof of a negative result are to be quarantined at a designated hotel or villa at their own expense, or free of charge at a government facility to be monitored for a few days before receiving a second test within seven days of the first. These persons are to be discharged once they test negative a second time. Those who test positive will be transported to an Isolation Centre.

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In light of recent developments, travellers from high-risk countries may also be quarantined if from the plane's manifest and seating chart it is determined that they were situated in an area of the plane deemed to be in close contact with someone who tested positive on arrival or after arrival.

However, BAMP is opposed to these criteria to an extent and also calls for the same measures in place for high-risk countries, to be applied to medium or moderate-risk countries. Persons from moderate-risk countries with a negative PCR pretest result go through Immigration, Baggage Claim, leave the airport and are to be monitored for seven days from arrival. Quarantining is not mandated, nor suggested by law in Barbados.

BAMP has stated:

"We believe that all persons arriving from high and medium-risk countries, given the risk of contracting an infection on embarkation, during the flight or on disembarkation, must ideally still be quarantined for 14 days after arrival with daily monitoring for fever or any COVID-19 symptoms."

In light of the level of resources to physically monitor the health of hundreds since commercial flights recommenced on July 12, BAMP recommended "the use of online forms and/or mobile reporting apps for daily reporting of temperatures and symptoms. Travellers must be informed that failure to report daily will be considered a breach of a signed contract given to them on arrival and may result in their mandatory quarantine or deportation."

And in relation to testing, BAMP supported the call for only accepting PCR test results, however, where Barbados requires a negative PCR test from an accredited source 72 hours prior to departure, the press release said: "We recognize that all untested travellers and those from higher risk countries may still transmit COVID-19 to any other traveller during the course of travel. We, therefore, believe that additional COVID-19 PCR testing of all persons arriving on flights from high and medium-risk countries should be mandatory and subsidised by the traveller.

"This testing should be performed on arrival and repeated seven days later."

With the cost of testing and healthcare being the deciding factor for many travellers at this time especially, BAMP suggested travel insurance and advised travellers to speak with their insurers ahead of travel.

"To defray the cost of treating persons who become ill while on the island, BAMP suggests that persons intending to come to Barbados should have travel insurance that covers the costs of possible tertiary healthcare for COVID-19. Details of this insurance should be recorded on their electronic ED card prior to departure."

The BAMP Council 2020, stressed: "Tourism is our main income earner, but we must be certain that increasing air travel
is truly profitable and has a cost-benefit in our favor and that it does not jeopardize the health of our people in the long term.

"With the excellent reputation Barbados has built over the years as a high-quality destination, we must now also market our island as a 'safe destination' with robust COVID-19 preventative measures."

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