An Increase In Covid-19 Cases And Hospitalization Related To Circulation Of Variant Of Concern (VOC) Delta In The Eastern Caribbean Countries 

PR – The Pan American Health  Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Office for Barbados and Eastern  Caribbean Countries is advising the public and health authorities to continue to take  appropriate and urgent public health and social measures (PHSM) to safeguard lives  due to an increase in cases and hospitalization related to circulation of SARS-CoV-2  Variant of Concern (VOC) Delta in the Eastern Caribbean. 

It is observed and reported from several countries the emergence of VOC Delta  including from Member States in the Americas with high vaccination coverage. With the  VOC Delta exhorts the importance of the preparatory process for the expansion of care  capacity in the face of the potential increase in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and  death. In June and July 2021, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saint  Kitt and Nevis, Virgin Islands-UK, Anguilla, Grenada, Dominica, Monserrat including  Barbados have shown a steady increase and surge. 

It is necessary to maximize efforts to extend full Covid-19 vaccination coverage,  especially in high-risks population, health, and care workers, as well as to reinforce non pharmacological prevention and protection measures, such as physical distancing, the  use of individual face masks, the use of antiseptic solutions (i.e., soap and water,  alcohol-gel, and liquid alcohol in disinfectant concentration, etc.). These measures  continue to be effective in reducing transmission of this and all variants. 

The capacity of mobilization of specialized care does not only go through the purchase  of equipment, it is also necessary to remember the mobilization or remobilization of  teams of health professionals who are trained, and that the services pay attention to the  establishment of logistics, flow, use of technologies for provision of care, in addition to  the purchase, supply, and monitoring of the use of personal protection equipment,  stocks of medicines, medications used in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), and hospital  oxygen. Moreover, the processes of preventive maintenance and repair of equipment  and the management of hospital waste must be implemented.

“As unvaccinated adults constitute a large percentage (95%) of the Covid-19 case load  in each country, vaccination coverage in those persons and families affected by the  outbreak have been below optimal,” said Dr. Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO  Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries. 

  • PAHO seeks to warn the public as unvaccinated persons are the main source of  infection to the larger community, individuals if offered to be vaccinated to take  up the offer and get vaccinated. 
  • Unvaccinated health and care workers to be vaccinated without any further delay  to protect themselves and the community they are serving. 
  • The decision to introduce, adapt or lift PHSM should be based primarily on a  situational assessment of the intensity of transmission and the capacity of the  health system to respond, but must also be considered in light of the effects  these measures may have on the general welfare of society and individuals. 
  • Public health and social measures continue to work against the variant and that  the vaccines are safe and effective against severe illness and death. 

PAHO will continue to provide Covid-19 test kits, personal protective devices,  medicines, and personnel to support laboratory and surveillance services to identify new  infections in each country. We strongly advise that collective action is required to  prevent the loss of lives and livelihood. PAHO also thank countries who are recently  sharing vaccine doses to Eastern Caribbean Countries and Barbados by ensuring equal  access to Covid-19 vaccines.