By Machela Osagboro
Barbudans have vowed to implement strict measures to ensure that the coronavirus does not enter their shores via the yachts and airplanes that frequent the sister island.
“We are trying to treat this from a distance before it comes to our shores, so if you are on a flight that’s coming from an area that has a high concentration of the virus, we are banning that flight from landing,” said Dr Jeremy Deazle, Barbuda’s resident medical doctor.
The Barbuda Council held a public meeting on Friday regarding the preventative measures that Barbuda will take to mitigate against the dreaded virus, officially known as COVID-19.
A panel discussion was held which included Dr Deazle, along with nurse Janita Coffey and the head of the social and welfare disaster committee, Nadia George, who will also be a part of the COVID-19 task force in Antigua.
The meeting was a part of ongoing information given to Barbudans outlining ways in which residents must keep themselves and their surroundings clean to help lessen the risk of contracting or spreading the virus.
George said the Council would be keeping a vigilant eye on visiting vessels. Dr Deazle said yachts would have to present a health declaration outlining their travel history.
“So, if a yacht is on the coastline coming from the infected areas and if they don’t have a declaration of health then they have to be sent away,” Dr Deazle said.
Devon Warner, Barbuda Council member, said, “there is going to be a check point established at River, where the yachts will be held before they are cleared to enter Barbuda.”
He added that, “the boats that are not cleared will have to fly a particular flag so our custom officers would know that the yacht has not been cleared so you proceed with caution when dealing with that yacht.”
Warner also revealed that customs officers and Council members are using an “easy clear” phone app to streamline the process.
Dr Deazle said if any Barbudans were to contract the virus they would be quarantined either in their homes or at the repurposed Margetson Ward at the old Holberton Hospital in Antigua.
Dr Deazle assured attendees that customs officers would scrunitise all visitors to the island.
“The coronavirus does not discriminate; it affects men, women, young, old. The most important thing is to check the travel history … and make sure they are not bringing the virus into the community,” he said.
The panel implored Barbudans to use proper preventative measures, such as thorough and frequent hand washing, because the virus has the potential to spread across the small population very rapidly.