Barbados' Ministry of Health confirmed the country's first coronavirus (COVID-19)-related fatality on Sunday, April 5. According to authorities, the individual was an 81-year-old with underlying health conditions who had returned to Barbados from the UK on Sunday, March 22.
On Thursday, March 26, the Barbados government declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Authorities have also activated stage 3 (highest level) of the country's COVID-19 National Preparedness Plan. A 24-hour curfew remains in effect as of 17:00 (local time) on Friday, April 3, to contain the spread of the virus. The new measures supersede an overnight curfew which came into effect on Saturday, March 28. Additionally, all non-essential businesses will remain closed across the island until Wednesday, April 15. Individuals who recently traveled to the UK, Europe, the US, China, Iran, and South Korea will be placed under a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
To date, authorities have confirmed 56 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including six recoveries. The Barbados Ministry of Health has a coronavirus hotline at +1 246 536 4500. Further international spread of the virus is expected.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.