In fact, chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association Alex McDonald said today the numbers simply were not adding up.
Just yesterday, the Government reported 49 confirmed and 200 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne illness.
However, McDonald told Barbados TODAY based on the information he had received, the figures were not reflective of the present reality facing local businesses.
The BPSA head said while no scientific data had been collected from members, the level of absenteeism due to reports of chikungunya-like symptoms by employees in the private sector was “fairly significant” at this time.
In fact, in some cases, he said, business operators were reporting that as much as half of their staff were out sick, due to related symptoms.
“In just a brief chat with members, people are reporting very stressful times, especially in the smaller businesses. I think it is more severe than just a reported 49 [confirmed cases] . . . People are talking about their staffing issues [and reporting] that in an office of ten, five people have not come in, or somebody is now recovering, either from dengue or chikungunya or symptoms that resemble either.
“Those are the kinds of numbers we are hearing,” he stressed.
As for the threat of Ebola, McDonald said he believed that the world was grappling with an appropriate response but he was confident that “new and better protocols” would be developed over time.
“From what we have been told through the Ministry of Health there seems to be a lot of work going on.
“I have listened very closely to the concerns that the average person has had, and it seems to me that a bit more communication is what is required in terms of making sure that people know we have the hazmat suits (hazardous materials suits) [and] the facility in place.”
McDonald said he understood the concerns of residents regarding the location of a proposed isolation unit, but he said, “we have listened very carefully to what the Chief Medical Officer [Dr Joy St John] has said, in terms of the access to the QEH [hospital], and not wanting to move patients about far distances, increasing the risk of them contaminating others, and it seems to make sense.”