By Theresa Goodwin
Barbuda will be maintaining its current travel restrictions in a bid to keep the sister isle Covid-free, in light of Wednesday’s news that Antigua has recorded 39 new imported cases of the virus.
Head of the Covid-19 task force, Jeremy Deazle, who is also Barbuda’s head physician, said his team had been considering relaxing some of the measures following Monday’s announcement by Health Minister Molywn Joseph that the country had no active cases of the illness and was essentially virus-free.
That stance changed when the nation learned that dozens of incoming travellers had since tested positive.
This means that ferries will continue to operate twice-weekly trips, on Mondays and Fridays, transporting a maximum of 25 persons per journey.
The two flights per week schedule between Barbuda and mainland Antigua will also stay the same. Airplanes are limited to seven passengers per trip.
Other changes could be made at a later date if there is any sign of community spread in Antigua, Dr Deazle explained.
“We are still checking temperatures at the air and seaports to make sure that everyone that comes in has a normal temperature and the other protocols such as social distancing and the wearing of facemasks and proper hygiene,” he said.
The doctor said Barbudan residents were adhering well to the practices.
Barbuda may not have yet reported any confirmed cases of the virus, but Dr Deazle said protocols are in place in case that changes.
The 62-square mile island is equipped with the necessary tools and facility to handle a mild case of the dreaded virus, he said.
However, in the event there is a severe case of coronavirus in Barbuda, that patient would be transferred immediately to Antigua for treatment and care.
As it relates to testing capabilities, the physician explained that, “we have the swabs in Barbuda to take the samples which will be sent to Antigua for testing”.
Meanwhile, the medical practitioner remains hopeful that local authorities in Antigua are able to do the necessary contact tracing and other measures to contain the new caseload.
He also suggested that travel into Antigua from known Covid-19 hotspots should be banned.