By Elesha George
Barbuda’s first Covid-19 patient is currently in Antigua receiving symptomatic treatment, after the district practitioner for Barbuda, Dr Jeremy Deazle, said her condition began to worsen over time.
The woman, who is said to be upwards of 45 years old, and who has an underlying condition, was medivacked to Antigua with assistance from the Coast Guard.
“She started to have shortness of breath, [and] mild difficulty breathing, so before her symptoms started to get worse, we decide to transfer her to Mount St John’s Medical Centre,” he told Observer.
With limited healthcare resources and facilities on Barbuda, its health team was unable to care for the woman.
“To medevac a Covid patient is a very tense situation, but at the same time you want to safely transport this individual and protect your team,” the doctor remarked.
The first confirmed Covid-19 case was reported on January 7,after the island had gone 11 months without any presence of the virus. That case was imported from the United States.
Dr Deazle explained that, “The patient came in from the US on the 4th. When the patient reached into VC Bird International Airport, they realised that the patient didn’t have the accurate Covid test; the patient had a rapid antigen test.
“So, that didn’t meet criteria. That was a red flag to the authorities at the airport, so they decided to swab her and do a RT-PCR test which is the one we authorise here in Antigua and Barbuda.”
The woman then travelled to Barbuda where she intended to reside and was still in quarantine at the time her test results returned positive.
Meanwhile, Barbuda recorded its second confirmed case a week later on January 14. That person is said to have mild symptoms and is in isolation.
“So far for the year 2021, we had two confirmed cases, one currently on island, the other case not currently on island at the moment,” Deazle said.
According to the doctor, “The case is currently still in Barbuda and the patient has little to no symptoms, so the patient is still in isolation. All contact tracing would have been established, and persons we thought should be in quarantine are currently in quarantine.”
Chairperson of the Health Committee on the Barbuda Council, Nadia George, said the local authority is prepared to lock down the island again if the cases continue to increase.
“Let us take into consideration: We only have one ATM, we only have one bread shop, one hospital; we have our primary school, secondary school, daycare and pre-school, and these are some of the things that we really need to take into consideration,” she remarked.
Although some people in the community are said to not be adhering to quarantine rules, the Council and health authorities on Barbuda said they are working alongside the police to ensure everyone wears face masks in public spaces as well as following social distancing rules and sanitising.
Dr Deazle warned that, “If persons are not upholding and respecting the quarantine, if they are not staying, and you are breaking the quarantine, you will be fined $10,000.
“If there is a possibility that you might be positive with Covid and you increase the chance of passing that Covid to somebody else because you disrespect the quarantine code, then you will be held accountable.”
More than six people who have been exposed to either Covid patient are in quarantine on Barbuda.
In response to the introduction of the virus to the island, three lab technicians and the district doctor recently received lab training to conduct the Sofia SARS rapid antigen test, which they expect will assist them in reducing the number of imported cases to the island.
The doctor has also called on health authorities in Antigua to reduce the validity period for which a person can present a RT-PCR Covid test result when travelling.
Currently, the government requires a Covid certificate which is valid up until seven days prior to them travelling to Antigua and Barbuda.
“I’m very optimistic and I’m hopeful that it’s something the Ministry of Health can look into as we can change the seven-day PCR test travelling to Antigua and Barbuda to a three-day PCR test prior to travelling … data has shown that if you do a PCR test seven days prior to travel then you can contract the virus in the few days after you have done the test,” Deazle added.
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