Well, who would have thought so much could change in the space of a week or two! 2021 has brought with it a wave of infection across the world like nothing we have seen before!
Last time I wrote, just after Christmas, things were fine here. Now, Barbados is experiencing their own second wave! Cases have increased dramatically over the past week.
Up until Christmas they’d had a total of around 300 cases. Today they have 878.
No-one knows how the virus got into the community. It could have been due to one of the many breaches of visitor quarantine protocols that have occurred over the last few weeks. Some of them were very high profile involving a Love Island star, Zara Holland, and her boyfriend who tested positive and tried to flee the country, and a couple in quarantine who invited a prostitute to their hotel room for a “threesome”!
But, it could just as easily be due to a Bajan National visiting their family for Christmas. One circulating rumour involves a man collecting some Christmas stuffing from his brother who was still in quarantine!
Whoever was responsible for the initial infection, it was unleashed on the Bajan community through a “bus crawl”, that is now being described as a “super-spreader” event.
The Bus Crawl took place on Boxing Day and was attended by members of the prison staff and their families. It involved several buses “crawling” from bar to bar with much drinking and dancing involved. There remains no doubt that a very good time was had by all. However, the fallout is that almost everyone who attended has since tested positive and has passed the infection on to their families, friends and colleagues.
The prison has been badly hit, affecting both staff and prisoners and the Barbados Defence Force has been brought in to run the prison. Multiple shops, bars, restaurants and businesses have closed all over the island. A curfew has been imposed from 9pm until 5am and people from different households are not allowed to gather indoors or outdoors. These restrictions began on New Years Eve, and will remain in place until the 14th of January.
Quarantine protocols have been tightened up and visitors are confined to their rooms until they have a second negative test. Thousands of tests have been conducted over the past week and a huge backlog has been created. People in quarantine are waiting as long as 10 days for their results and incurring large hotel bills as they wait. People trying to get out of the country to destinations (like the UK and Canada) which require a negative test within 72 hours before departure are not getting their results in time and having to re-book their flights multiple times.
And in the UK, things are even worse as well. Numbers are now ridiculously high, deaths rates are soaring, the NHS is drowning and a second National Lockdown has been imposed.
Those of us who hoped that 2021 would bring better times have been sorely disappointed.
But, a glimmer of hope can be gleaned from the fact that the vaccination programme has begun, with 2 million people in the UK having received their first dose.
When is this all going to end?