By Kadeem Joseph
The government is assuring residents that the country’s health system is prepared to handle another spike in Covid-19 infections as Antigua and Barbuda gets set to host increased visitor arrivals in the weeks to come.
The assurance comes even as the government maintains that returning nationals have been the greatest contributors to the spread of the novel coronavirus here.
Chief of Staff in the Prime Minister’s Office Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst said that while there are risks, with many people still unvaccinated, the nation’s tourism product “must continue”.
“It is for this reason that the Minister of Health ensured that we not only have 80 beds available at the Sir Lester Bird Mount St John’s Medical Centre but at the old hospital, Holberton Hospital, there are 18 beds for those who may need to be hospitalised and a sleeping space for the nurses and doctors who may wish to take care of those patients at that centre,” Hurst said.
He added that these spaces will be supplemented by the “mini-hospital” out of an existing building on Nugent Avenue that has 75 beds.
Hurst believes that the likelihood that all 173 beds are taken up is “really very, very slim”.
He added that the country has seen the worst of the pandemic and during that time there was no need for the additional beds which were created.
The Chief of Staff noted that the Cabinet is of the view that it would only be a matter of time before the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, which is considered not only more transmissible but more dangerous, reaches the nation’s shores and it is for this reason that the government continues to encourage residents to get vaccinated.