As Barbados has been hurtled into a new Covid crisis - with the UK variant on the loose and new cases exploding- Cuba has again come to the rescue with medical support. Fifteen doctors and laboratory specialists - belonging to the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade of Cuba- arrived on the island two weeks ago, and will join the 99 who since April last year were contributing to the local effort.
This has been since thousands of new cases have been reported and the island is once again on shelter-in-place orders, and only limited outside excursions allowed. *Bajans needing exercise can go to the sea from 6- 9 a.m. each day, but not close quarters.
On Tuesday, before taking up their stations having successfully completed their period of quarantine, the healthcare professionals vowed to carry out their mission to the very best of their ability. They did so while at The Cuban Monument, Paynes Bay, St. James which was erected in memory of those who lost their lives in the bombing of the Cubana Airlines Flight 455 off the West Coast of Barbados in 1976. See e.g.
In remarks at the site, Dr. Alberto Rodriguez Gallardo said:
“With the name of Brigade Henry Reeve, symbol of international solidarity – we come to tell our brothers and sisters of Barbados, and specially the health personnel of Barbados – that we are by their side in this fight for life against COVID-19 and against death,”
Cuba’s Ambassador to Barbados Sergio Jorge Pastrana went on to express: “We must thank Barbados for giving us the opportunity to be part of this, as we are all part of the effort within the Caribbean to help our brothers and sisters in dealing with this terrible scourge we are fighting against.”
Ambassador Pastrana also complimented Barbados’ Government on the patient quarantine facility at Harrison Point, St. Lucy describing it as “state-of-the-art”, adding that the teams from Cuba are working in excellent conditions.
Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong on behalf of the government and people of Barbados thanked the medical brigade, saying:
“We know that you are here to help save precious lives and we thank you so much for that. And we were very moved that you came here at the monument this morning to make this solemn pledge to do your very best in the service of the people of Barbados.”
He also concurred with the Cuban Ambassador that Harrison Point is a state-of-the-art COVID-19 treatment hospital. By referring to it as an “isolation center”, he said “we are really doing a disservice”.
“It is a state-of-the-art COVID-19 treatment hospital and much credit to Barbados in constructing that hospital in record time, in approximately one month to be ready to face the COVID-19 pandemic,”
Ambassador Comissiong stressed.
“The Cuban Ambassador has visited it and he has assured me that it is a top-class international quality facility. And the Barbadian people should be made aware of this – when you go there you are actually getting the very best medical treatment it is possible to get for COVID-19."
In a Zoom call with our Bajan relatives on Sunday, they assured us that so far they are doing okay - but no idea yet of when any will receive vaccinations. (Janice went for her Covid shot -the Pfizer one - Tuesday, and I am on a waiting list for UCHealth, Colorado.)
They also told us they were notified of the latest lockdown and curfew directives for the next two weeks, disseminated by the Barbados government, e.g.
A snippet from the directive summarizing the rules for the general public is shown below:
Given the island's medical staff - in both clinics and hospitals- are now overwhelmed with both dengue and Covid cases, the family agreed it was a "blessing" to have the Cuban medical team arrive in the island to offer support.
We are hoping all the relatives get through this latest crisis without severe repercussions or infection - by either a Covid variant, or dengue fever - which is spread by mosquitos of the Aedes genus.
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