Barbados records ‘superspreader’ – Gittens’ Bus Crawl, over 21 cases

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( – Barbados has recorded a superspreader event – Jason Gittens’ bus crawl held on December 26, 2020.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases coming out of tests conducted at HMP Dodds is over 45, with 21 being attendees of the aforementioned bus crawl.

At the time, Health Minister Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic told the nation that contact tracing and testing efforts so far have returned “100 cases under active investigation and up to the time that I left the emergency operation centre to come here to Ilaro Court there were 45 confirmed positive cases, 45 confirmed positive cases.”

Noting that this is now a “most challenging situation”, he said that the 45 cases identified earlier tonight include 32 persons from Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) – Dodds and four from the Barbados Defense Force (BDF). 

“The four from the Barbados Defense Force along with 17 from the Prison Service all attended a bus crawl on Boxing Day, December 26 [organized by Jason Gittens].”

These confirmed cases have been added to the two prison officers who tested positive on Thursday.

However, when Prime Minister Mia Mottley stepped to the podium she indicated that she received further correspondence which indicated that the number of confirmed cases had surpassed the original 45. She did not give an updated figure, only implied that the number of confirmed cases continued to rise as another batch of results were returned during the address.

Chairman of the Cabinet COVID Sub-Committee Senator Dr Jerome Walcott called it “an escalating, serious situation”. He said that the extensive testing was conducted overnight and showed that “perhaps over 80 per cent [of the positives cases are] occurring from among prison wardens and members of the BDF”. Over 200 members of the Prison Service staff were tested already and he believed that the entire amount of over 300 is to be completed before midnight tonight. Furthermore, he assured that they have started to test members of the prison population from last night, with that exercise expected to be completed tomorrow morning.

Minister Bostic said, this is a daunting task. “I cannot tell you that we will have this matter dealt with by tomorrow or the next day because we won’t.” But he reiterated that we will not retreat or surrender to COVID-19. “This is a massive undertaking and perhaps the most challenging assignment of my life including the 26 years I spent as a military officer the Barbados Defense Force, but I want to give the assurance that I have every confidence in the staff at the Ministry of health and Wellness because they are educated, dedicated, they’re knowledgeable and they’ve shown beyond a shadow of doubt that we have what it takes to wrestle with this monster and we intend to wrestle it to the ground. We are going to work assiduously, day, night, whatever it takes to bring this matter under control.”

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