(CIBS -Ashford Peters) – Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Luke Browne has conceded that one cannot say definitively there is no COVID-19 case or transmission in a country a comment which is in stark contrast to that made by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at a recent press conference.
In an interview at the Ministry of Health following the presentation of Personal Protective Equipment by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) minister Browne was asked if he could “say definitively” there is no case of COVID-19 in this country.
“What I could say, there are no confirmed cases on the basis of the tests we have carried out. There was the initial one confirmed case, and that is no longer an active case. We submitted a repeat test and the outcome of that was negative. We thank God for being in this scenario,’ minister Browne replied.
The health minister’s response was unlike the Prime Minister’s when a similar question was pose to him about whether one could accurately say there was no COVID-19 case or local transmission.
The Prime Minister was adamant that he would forever omit the words “confirmed” or “known” or “reported.”
“If you were to play lawyer and you say well, there is no significant community transmission in the United States, save an except in pockets, you will say ‘no known.’ Because, up to that time about a few days ago is just over 11,000 persons were tested in the whole USA. They have a population of over 350 million,” the Prime Minister stated.
Prime Minister Gonsavles was informed that the question was raised in light of the situation in the Bahamas where the first confirmed case of COVID-19 which was deemed to be a local transmission since the patient had no travel history.
The Prime Minister ignore the reference. He said the question of whether one can accurately say there in no COVID-19 or no local or community transmission without including the words “confirmed” or “unknown” or “reported” was framed in such a way as to create hysteria.
“I am uncompromising on this issue, you know… I am not giving any quarter on this,” the Prime Minister said then.
Minister of Health Luke Browne said Tuesday that even the World Health Organization has advised that even where there is no confirmed case of COVID-19, health authorities are not to rest easy or be complacent but to treat the situation as though the dreaded virus is present.