Monday, April 15, 2024

Boyce: No ban as yet

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BARBADOS WON’T be rushing to ban travellers from Ebola-hit Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea from entering the island.

Minister of Health John Boyce indicated this yesterday, reacting to Press reports of a ban by the St Vincent authorities.

“In this case, we are taking one step at a time,” he told reporters during a tour of medical facilities at the Barbados Defence Force’s (BDF) headquarters, St Ann’s Fort.

“We have so far advised persons who do not have to make journeys into these areas [countries] not to do so. Certainly, visitors who have travelled to these areas do have to declare their travel itinerary on arrival at Grantley Adams Airport, and these are international protocols which are in place . . . .

“We have not taken a recommendation of banning travel at this stage so this is something which we have to consider and I will have to engage the team at the Ministry [of Health] before we arrive at [a decision] like that.”

He told the media that the important thing was that Port Health was “on full alert”. “They are examining the travel records of all visitors to Barbados and certainly in cases where there is any suspicion, there are certain protocols which are in place, including surveillance, that are being put into effect,” he added.

“We will continue to monitor [the Ebola situation] and certainly when we meet with Cabinet, when we get our reports from the team at the Ministry of Health, we will deal with this situation every week and we will take considered judgment as to what Barbados’ next steps are.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John said she was glad the minister “reiterated his need for discussion on the issue of any ban on travel”. She pointed out that there were also Ebola cases reported in the United States and Spain. “It’s a very fluid situation, so the issue of banning travel to affected countries is something that would never be taken lightly.”

St Vincent this week announced the travel ban, with Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves saying it was “because we didn’t consider that we had the infrastructure, necessarily, to deal with an onrush of people if they were to come from any of those West African countries which we have named specifically”.

On Tuesday, the Grenada government said it was considering suspending travel visas to nationals from the West African countries at a time of steeply climbing Ebola mortality rates.

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