By Orville Williams
The newly-trained all-female team of Covid compliance officers is to be deployed by the Central Board of Health (CBH) before the end of the week, once a minor logistical challenge is overcome.
Chief Health Inspector Sharon Martin told Observer yesterday that, having completed their training in recent days, the nine-woman team is only awaiting their official identification cards to be processed before officially heading out onto the streets.
“The officers have been trained, but they aren’t fully operational just yet, because we need to get their IDs worked out – they cannot go to establishments and not be able to positively identify themselves,” she explained.
“So, what’s happened is, I’ve been to a few places with them and showed them what we expect them to do when they become fully operational.
“It’s just a matter of time and they will begin to function as soon as they get their cards, which we expect to be before the week is out.”
The officers have been trained to handle Covid-19-related matters, specifically where compliance with the protocols by individuals and businesses is concerned, and are scheduled to be deployed at certain hotspots across Antigua.
Some of these hotpots include English Harbour, Jolly Harbour and St John’s, where there have been reports of protocol breaches in the past.
“They will be dealing specifically with the compliance aspect of the work – making sure that [people] have their [vaccination] cards, making sure they’re washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks etc.
“[They will also] be making sure that [the businesses] have a book in which they log the names of patrons, to show that the patrons did receive their vaccinations or that they have been [tested],” she added.
Martin also confirmed that the training process went well, in her estimation, and that the officers were excited to get to work.
“The training went well…I gave them the opportunity to demonstrate what they would have learnt and I’m quite pleased with how they performed,” she added.
The CBH has long been calling for more manpower, considering the burden caused by the ongoing pandemic, and some would say that the hiring of these new officers is long overdue.
With the tourism sector continuing its resurgence and more businesses getting back into operation, these new officers will more than likely quickly have their hands full.