Barbados: Prime Minister Mia Mottley reassured the Barbadians following calls from the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) to close the country due to the outbreak of the Delta variant on the island.
Her comments come after recommendations from the DLP that stricter measures should be introduced and that the country should ‘stand still for a reason’.
While Mottley accused the DLP of ‘politics with COVID-19’, Mottley said it was not the time for partisan politics.
She urged the party to ‘take part in the fight’ to get more Barbadians vaccinated instead of suggesting restrictions that are likely to bring more significant hardship to those who can bear the least burden.
The prime minister said another restriction could potentially lead to the withdrawal of international flights for the rest of the year and could have irreversible social and economic implications.
“Closing the country is and will not be the first, second or third option of this government of the Barbados Labor Party. I want to make that very clear. We do not take it lightly. This is not the way we govern.”
“If my ministers and I are to enter the streets of Barbados and go door to door to make Barbadians fully aware of the need to protect themselves from the spread of COVID, especially with the advent of the Delta variant, then what we will do,” Mottley said in a press release.
“The DLP must stop politics and jump aboard the national crusade to save lives and maintain the standard of living to which Barbadians are accustomed. There will be time for partisan politics, but what we need now is national leadership. We need social partners like political parties to do and say what is right, what makes sense and what is in the national interest.”
“We have very little room for distraction and confusion. It’s a luxury that Barbados currently cannot afford. Shutting down this country for a day, a week or longer is not an option we want to consider right now. I already said we can not run a marathon. The DLP can therefore continue with its ill-considered formula, or it can come to the table constructively (as we invited them in the meetings on COVID at the social partnership) and let us work together as one people to fight our way, as a nation, from this crisis I remind you of, is currently being experienced by every other country on Mother Earth.”
The prime minister has revealed that the government has spent $ 48 million over the past month to refurbish existing facilities, purchase new equipment and hire more people in an effort to adequately manage the threat.
Mottley said although 117,000 or about 43 percent of the country’s population of 287,000 took at least one dose of the vaccine, it was not enough.
In an earlier statement, the DLP’s vice president and health, water and sanitation spokesman, Andre Worrell, called for tough decisions to be made, with 101 positive cases reported on Sunday and 546 people in quarantine.
He told the president of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), Dr Lynda Williams, also called for stricter measures to be applied.
Worrell suggested that even if the government maintains its isolation and quarantine facilities, it may not be enough.
“The DLP acknowledges that managing this crisis will ensure that our healthcare sector is not overburdened. It may be time for the Prime Minister to make a choice just as she did on January 29, 2021, when she declared that she was not prepared to sacrifice Barbadian lives to stabilize the economy, and we must stand still for a goal.” said Worrell.
The DLP supposes that extended vaccination will help decrease the spread of the virus and enhance outcomes. The immunisation rate depends on the availability of vaccines and the pace with which health workers can get them into the arms of ready individuals. Currently, 35.6 percent of the population is fully vaccinated and we vaccinate an average of 1,275 people a day. At this pace, it will take added 46 days to vaccinate 10 percent of the population. It still does not bring us close to herd immunity. It is perhaps best to control the things we can and take a while before the Delta variant drops us. ”