The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries is advising the public and health authorities to continue to take appropriate and urgent public health and social measures to safeguard lives due to an increase in cases and hospitalisation related to circulation of SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern (VOC) Delta in the Eastern Caribbean.
PAHO in a statement says it is observed and reported from several countries the emergence of VOC Delta including from Member States in the Americas with high vaccination coverage. With the VOC Delta exhorts the importance of the preparatory process for the expansion of care capacity in the face of the potential increase in COVID
-19 cases, hospitalisations, and death.
It says in June and July 2021, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Saint Kitt and Nevis, Virgin Islands-UK, Anguilla, Grenada, Dominica, Monserrat including Barbados have shown a steady increase and surge.
PAHO states that it is necessary to maximize efforts to extend full COVID
-19 vaccination coverage, especially in high-risk populations, health and care workers, as well as to reinforce non-pharmacological prevention and protection measures, such as physical distancing, the use of individual face masks, the use of antiseptic solutions (soap and water, alcohol-gel, and liquid alcohol in disinfectant concentration).
It notes these measures continue to be effective in reducing transmission of this and all variants.
PAHO says the capacity of mobilisation of specialised care does not only go through the purchase of equipment, it is also necessary to remember the mobilisation or remobilisation of teams of health professionals who are trained, and that the services pay attention to the establishment of logistics, flow, use of technologies for provision of care.
This is in addition to the purchase, supply, and monitoring of the use of personal protection equipment, stocks of medicines, medications used in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), and hospital oxygen.
Moreover, it states the processes of preventive maintenance and repair of equipment and the management of hospital waste must be implemented.
“As unvaccinated adults constitute a large percentage (95 per cent) of the COVID
-19 case load in each country, vaccination coverage in those persons and families affected by the outbreak have been below optimal,” said Dr Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries.
PAHO seeks to warn the public as unvaccinated persons are the main source of infection to the larger community, and urges individuals if offered to be vaccinated to take up the offer and get vaccinated.
The organisation strongly advises that collective action is required to prevent the loss of lives and livelihood.