By Shermain Bique-Charles
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has tested positive for Covid-19, following what he said is a series of business trips over the past few weeks.
Browne said he got news of the infection on Friday and retested positive again on Saturday, revealing that he believes he may have been exposed to the potentially deadly virus in Miami or Barbuda.
Last Saturday, Browne hosted around nine European investors in Barbuda before travelling to the Bahamas on business. He also overnighted in Miami on his way back from Dubai two weeks ago.
“I was always in the high-risk group to contract Covid…I see a lot of visitors on a daily basis…. Perhaps my exposure would have come at a restaurant, if not in Barbuda but in Miami when I removed my mask to eat,” Browne explained.
The PM said he has been spared any major side effects from the coronavirus infection and is coping well thus far, with just mild symptoms.
“I am in good health other than these little congestions. My oxygen levels are fine. I am feeling well. I have no loss of appetite or taste. I don’t have a headache, no fever. I feel just as strong,” he said.
The prime minister, who controversially received the Moderna vaccine weeks before Covid jabs were available locally to the public,is currently in isolation at home and said he will be working remotely.
So far, he said, close contacts including his immediate family members have tested negative for the virus.
“I have notified them, they tested negative. Within my family they all got tested and they are negative,” Browne confirmed.
He attributes their results to him being vaccinated and taking protective measures.
“It could have been worse but because I got vaccinated and subsequently boosted, I believe it has not been more devastating,” he said.
Meanwhile, after hovering in the single digits for the last couple of weeks, the country’s Covid count rose last week with 18 new infections announced on Thursday. The latest dashboard also revealed there to be three people hospitalised with the virus after seven weeks of zero hospitalisations.
Of the three cases, one is considered moderate and two mild.
Browne said the latest numbers are a stark reminder that Covid-19 is still present in the country.
“We are still vulnerable. We need at least 70 percent of the population to get vaccinated so we continue to encourage people to get vaccinated. Individuals should not become complacent because Covid is still a threat,” he warned.
Browne encouraged residents to continue to wear facemasks – optional since March 16 – and to follow health and safety protocols.