There is no dengue outbreak. So said the Chief Medical Officer (Ag.) Dr. Kenneth George during a media conference hosted by the Cabinet Subcommittee on COVID-19 Monday evening.
Dr. George was asked if Barbadians needed to heighten their current concerns by putting mosquito-borne disease on their radar to alert the nation of the upcoming special week of guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He found, however, that while there were two species of mosquitoes in Graeme Hall Swamp, the current levels were such that there was no immediate cause for concern.
“We have two vectors in the swamp – the Aedes Aegypti and the Anopheles – and we keep making sure that the southern part of Barbados is always foggy and the teams keep going out. Our challenge is that our levels in October were a little higher than the standard call. It may have hit the threshold for an outbreak, but luckily for November these levels have returned to the levels of previous years, ”he said.
Dr. George encouraged the Barbadians to do their part to keep the disease at bay, even though there was increased activity in the swamp and it was too early to say if an outbreak would occur.
“It’s just a good opportunity to remind the Barbadians that the Environmental Protection Agency is fogging up, but it is indeed their responsibility to have their premises checked for mosquito larvae twice a week.”
Dr. George added that there have been some hospitalizations in Barbados and some deaths in the area, and went on to say that Barbados continues to be blessed and thanked the public for the role they played.
“We have been blessed. But we need to remain vigilant about this and during a COVID pandemic the Department of Health will keep an eye on all areas of public health concern. That’s what we’re trying to do to make sure the public is safe. Many public health issues require public cooperation, and I think the media is well placed to encourage the public to understand the science and take simple steps to protect themselves and their families. “
The Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic noted that the government had decided to treat a dengue outbreak the same way it currently treats COVID-19, with the Health Emergency Operations Center pending adoption of efforts is responsible. He added that forty more people had been hired to assist the environmental department in finding mosquito breeding sites and announced that some new equipment would be for use in combat once they arrived in Barbados. “We spent a lot of money buying handheld foggers and truck foggers. We are waiting for the smoke machines to arrive, and once those machines are here we can deploy four fog teams – two in the northern half of the country and two in the southern half – with a fifth team able to respond to individual incidents. We have collected information related to people suspected of having dengue and we have focused on the areas of current capacity that we have that will continue over the next several months, especially if we have equipment that we can Put in all the teams we have now, ”he said. (MP)