Barbados: Passengers should be tested before flying – Doc

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(Barbados Today) – Barbadian medical professional has posted a stinging rebuke to the decision to reopen the country to international flights and the accompanying procedures for handling people who come to the island.

Dr Vidya Armogan, a well-known orthodontist who is also the co-owner of a St Michael boutique hotel, offered the ripping review following the arrival on Monday in Barbados of a JetBlue aircraft that brought home 110 Barbadians, four of whom tested positive for COVID-19.

In an article published on his LinkedIn page on Wednesday, Dr Armogan made a case for having all passengers arriving on the island tested before they even board a plane in the originating country and again when they have landed.

“One may have thought that demanding and insisting on people being tested before arrival, and again, on arrival, would make sense at this stage of our COVID-19 history. . . . Didn’t we learn anything? Open borders? With what protocols?” the medical professional told his followers.

The medical specialist added: “Temperature checks. Bonus. We may catch 50 per cent of those with active viral infection as 50 per cent are asymptomatic. So, with a COVID-19 average of five per cent penetration globally, we could expect a flight of 200 to have ten people who have (or had) COVID-19. We are told that four people were found to be positive. I am assuming that we are testing everyone with a PCR test, not just the ones with temperatures – which may beg the question, if we are testing everyone, why spend tax dollars on IR Cameras? If we are not testing everyone, why not?”

He added: “Please consider that these people are then being asked to quarantine. Are they quarantining in an isolated facility or at home? How did they get home? Was someone from that household picking them up? Are we placing an officer outside those homes to ensure no one in that household is leaving to go to the supermarket? [Are we using] ankle bracelets like the ones used for criminals that alert authorities of a deviant household member who is sneaking out to visit his girl, or go to the pharmacy? What measures are in place to protect the public?”

Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said this week all the Barbadians who were on the flight were tested for COVID-19 and while four tested positive all the others have been placed in quarantine.

In a no-holds-barred critique, the orthodontist also raised questions about possible exposure of the JetBlue flight crew which brought the passengers home.

“Even if you boarded that plane without COVID-19, there is a good chance all passengers and crew were exposed. Were these four asymptomatic? What are the protocols on the flight? What disinfection is used pre and post-flight?

“Barbados insists on insecticide sprayed on planes – I have not witnessed this anywhere else in the world, and that’s an aerosolized chemical! If we, the only country in the world that I have ever seen that done, are so powerful to let people understand our standards, how hard is it to insist on tests for a viral agent pre-flight?

“It is for this very reason that we need to be testing. Having done more tests than our neighbours is not a gold standard to hold highly in my opinion. Maybe Wuhan that just tested 11 million residents is more the gold standard. We should, with the calibre of our leadership, have tested extensively by now and we should have protocols in place that would not allow people to board an aircraft coming to our shores without being tested with both PCR and antibody tests.”

Moreover, Dr. Armogan called for greater engagement with “stakeholders who want to see this island nation become COVID-free and remain that way. At the very minimum, it would be great to remain relatively low-COVID”.

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