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By Theresa Goodwin

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A new unit of four people has been added to the complement of staff currently monitoring and identifying people who may have been exposed to Covid-19.

Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph said this team will be specifically tasked with tracking additional infected cases emanating from an initial confirmed case, beefing up previously limited manpower.

Scores of residents have complained about reaching out to contact tracing personnel and waiting days to receive a reply. The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda also recently alluded to challenges in this area.

“We have created another unit now and have restructured that exercise which I think will address the problems that have legitimately been a concern for the public. I believe within this week we should not be hearing these complaints,” the minister said.

Health authorities had previously been struggling with less than 10 contact tracers. Joseph also disclosed that more still were being hired, bringing the overall total to around 22 individuals.

Last month, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party Harold Lovell called on the government to overhaul a number of critical Covid-19 procedures, including the contract tracing system. Among his suggestions was increasing the number of people assisting.

Cabinet, at the time, said additional manpower would include Defence Force soldiers, amid a drastic increase in confirmed cases.