Barbados Announces New Entry Measures As COVID Cases Increase

(CMC) – Barbados says travellers will be allowed to enter the island with a valid negative Rapid PCR coronavirus (COVID-19) test result, 24 hours prior to arrival, or a negative Standard RT-PCR COVID-19 test result, done within three days prior to their arrival on the island.

A government statement said that the new measures go into effect on Friday, December 7, and that accepted tests include those which were taken at an accredited or recognised laboratory by a health care provider.

“LAMP tests, self-administered tests or home kits and tests using saliva samples will not be accepted,” the statement said, as the authorities also announced the digitisation of contact tracing through the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Barbados Exposure Notification App (BENApp).

The government said that the free, anonymous contact tracing and symptoms monitoring app was designed to assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“Manual contact tracing has been pivotal in slowing the spread of the virus, but it takes a while to process everyone. With digital contact tracing and exposure notifications, individuals can quickly receive exposure alerts.

“The app, for use by locals and travellers, will provide proactive alerts about possible exposures to educate users of potential risk. This information will help them assess symptoms and take the necessary steps. With knowledge about possible exposures and responsible action, for example seeking medical attention, staying at home and adhering to the hygiene protocols, residents can work together to reduce the spread of the virus,” the Ministry of Health and Wellness said.

It said that the BENApp will notify persons if they’ve been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and has the app running.

“If someone tests positive, he or she can use the app to anonymously notify anyone who has been nearby. It doesn’t collect any personal information or track a location.

“It uses a new feature created by Apple and Google, which utilises Bluetooth radio to listen for and send randomly generated keys. Each key is a series of unidentifiable numbers without any personal information. These randomly generated keys are stored on persons’ phones, and they can choose to share them if diagnosed.”

Meanwhile, Barbados has recorded its first COVID-19 casualty for the year, after a 75-year-old woman died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department on Monday, January 3. She was unvaccinated.

Her death brings the number of fatalities from the virus to 263 since March 2020, and according to the latest health bulletin, a total of 538 people, including 309 females, tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday from the 2,383 tests carried out by the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.

It said that the new cases consisted of 91 people under the age of 18, and 447 who were 18 years and older. There were 194 people in isolation facilities, while 1,498 were in home isolation.

Under the National Vaccination Programme for COVID-19, the total number of persons with at least one dose is 156,033, while the total number of persons who are fully vaccinated is 143,792.