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Barbados Today – Government is currently exploring COVID-19 “vaccine possibilities” with China, Russia and India and the hemisphere’s health agency through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s office revealed Thursday.
The announcement follows meetings at Ilaro Court with civil servants from the tourism agencies, immigration, ports of entry, health, foreign ministry and other departments.
The talks centred on the country’s performance thus far in the COVID-19 fight and provided a “clear mandate” from Prime Minister Mia Mottley about what the public service needs to do to keep the country protected from the rampage of the novel coronavirus.
“A considerable amount of the discussion also centred on the acquisition and administering of Covid-19 vaccines,” the release the Prime Minister’s Office disclosed.
“The meeting was informed that United States authorities had already been engaged, that the island would leverage its association with the Pan-African drugs purchasing platform, that arrangements were already in place with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to acquire 20 per cent of the country’s needs, [and] that through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccine possibilities were being examined.”
In addition to the procurement of vaccines, Government is shoring up its store of testing supplies in response to a projected increase in traffic at the country’s lone international airport, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“Officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport and the Immigration Department were also directed to make maximum use of digital processing procedures in order to minimize the physical handling of passports and other documents that have the potential to spread the virus,” said the release.
The Prime Minister also mandated the Ministry of Health to ramp back up its communications and public relations programmes to ensure that Barbadians do not slip into a state of complacency, given the country’s success so far in preventing any community spread of the virus.
The Prime Minister’s Office added: Notwithstanding the repeated letters of commendation Government has received from Barbadians and visitors who contracted COVID-19 and found themselves in mandatory isolation at the Harrison Point facility or those who were restricted to other public quarantine centres, the meetings agreed on the implementation of additional measures to improve their customer service experience. These include enhanced meal menus and improved leisure facilities.”
At the Ilaro Court meeting, updates were also provided from the BTMI on the Welcome Stamp Initiative along with ways in which it can be “reinvigorated”.
In addition to the focus on suppressing fallout from the pandemic, officials in the Ministry of Health and other areas were instructed to resume work on tackling the country’s lifestyle diseases.
The PMO said: “The Ministry of Health and Wellness was instructed to immediately fill all vacancies for community health workers, to put in place a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Elder Affairs to expand and speed up the process of assessing more people seeking institutional care and providing an updated report on the status of the initiative to construct a new fit-for-purpose geriatric care hospital.”