Residents encouraged to trust local health experts

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Youth Ambassador attached to the Ministry of Health, Julien Kentish. (file photo)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

The presence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in Antigua and Barbuda has become increasingly hard to ignore, and one youth advocate is strongly advising residents to trust the expertise of local medical professionals as the pandemic continues.

Youth Ambassador attached to the Ministry of Health, Julien Kentish, believes that vaccines remain the number one tool in avoiding severe illness and hospitalisation if one becomes infected with the Covid-19 virus, and its several variants that have been spreading worldwide.

“This specific virus is new to us, how it is changing and morphing and turning into variants that are new to us. We’ve seen the World Health Organisation, we have seen reputable bodies come together and find a solution for it, I’m just praying that as citizens, we trust our healthcare system,” Kentish told Observer in an interview.

Kentish, who is employed in the healthcare sector, has suggested that his colleagues consider providing more education to people who may still be vaccine-hesitant so that an informed decision on inoculation can be made.

“I think it is so important for our people to be educated on the types of vaccines, and I can see that coming from our nurses. I am calling on my Principal Nursing Officer and other nurses in pushing the education on vaccines, the different types of vaccines, where does our Pfizer vaccine fit in, where does our AstraZeneca vaccine fit in?”

The Ministry of Health’s Youth Ambassador also shared his daily observation of the current situation plaguing healthcare workers as the country experiences another spike in Covid-19 cases. He has discouraged persons from panic testing at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center Emergency Room and said it may be safer to self-isolate and call the Covid-19 hotline to report symptoms.

“Let’s say I wake up and I’m having a cough or cold and I’m thinking it’s Covid, and I go out and seek testing. It’s important for you to know that once you have observed the protocols, and once you’re not in that bubble I’ve heard the Ministry of Health say, then you should be quarantining yourself and not burdening the system,” Kentish explained.

The latest dashboard released by the Ministry of Health revealed over 1,000 active Covid-19 cases, however, the Omicron variant is expected to present less severe illness compared to other variants, although a higher transmission rate is suspected.

Kentish added to numerous pleas from the country’s government officials to practice personal responsibility to keep oneself and one’s loved ones protected from the virus.

“We know that there was an opening of our country, the curfew has dropped, so certain practices that we could not have done, persons are doing now. Visiting your families, maybe having small occasions, and despite your maintaining of six-feet distancing, which is sometimes hard to believe when you join your family outing, not touching your eyes and your nose, are things that we can do to prevent transmitting this virus.”

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