BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday April 6, 2020 – An elderly man, whose wife has also tested positive for the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is the first person to die in Barbados from the viral illness.

At a press conference where it was also disclosed that six others who had tested positive have recovered and were released from government isolation centres, Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic said the deceased was an 81-year-old Barbadian who travelled to the United Kingdom and returned to Barbados on March 22.

He died hours after he and his 83-year-old wife were tested for COVID-19 after reporting symptoms on Saturday. 

Bostic said the elderly man, who had underlying medical conditions, deteriorated rapidly after being admitted into care. Prior to being admitted, he was neither in home quarantine nor at any of government’s quarantine/isolation facilities.

“I was informed of his death late [Saturday] night from COVID-19-related pneumonia and complications of diabetes,” the Health Minister said.

The man was one of the 56 cases confirmed in the island since March 16. He and his wife were among four people who got back positive tests on Saturday. The other two were: the seven-year-old daughter of another person who had tested positive for the virus, and a 21-year-old woman who returned from the United Kingdom on March 16.

Isolation Facilities Manager, Dr Corey Forde, who is also Head of the Infectious Disease Programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said the majority of the 49 patients still at government isolation centres are in stable condition.

Meantime, COVID-19 Czar Richard Carter has urged Barbadians to let the first COVID-19 death be a sobering reminder about the potential danger of the virus and the risk of age and underlying health conditions.

But he also suggested that the first release of patients, who have emerged as cured of COVID-19, shows that the virus is not a death sentence and with care and appropriate treatment, people can survive.

The six patients to recover from COVID-19 left isolation facilities yesterday after two consecutive negative tests over the last two days, which is in keeping with international testing and standards. Patients require two negative screens, which are done 24-hours apart, to be considered recovered from the illness.

Minister Bostic said the recovery of the patients was a testament to the quality of care and treatment provided by the country’s medical teams, adding: “We celebrate this important milestone with these patients and their families with whom they can now be reunited.”

He expressed gratitude to the medical professionals, who, he noted, at great personal risk to themselves, continue to care for and treat those infected with COVID-19.           

“These brave Barbadians, the other public health staff directly involved in the Covid-19 response and the entire cohort of staff working in the public and private sectors to maintain the high-quality health care that Barbados has become known for, deserve our support, our prayers and our deepest respect,” the Health Minister said.

Barbadians are currently under a 24-hour curfew which will remain in effect until midnight on April 14. They are required to stay at home unless they need to get food at village shops or bread at bakeries which are open for a specified period each day; to go to the pharmacy; or to seek medical care.

However, Carter expressed concern that too many people were still not heeding the instruction to stay inside.

“We still continue to see a level of irresponsible behavior, albeit from a minority of Barbadians …. Persons who failed to follow the advice, even though there may be a small minority, that minority is putting the rest of us at risk,” he said.

“It is important that we do everything possible not to put additional strain on our healthcare system by staying off the road and staying at home, and following the public health advice, which has been given at every opportunity that we have spoken.”

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