By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis confirmed yesterday that Kim Johnson-Rolle, a 57-year-old Bimini resident and mother-of-three, is the country’s first known COVID-19 death.
She was transported to New Providence on Monday after experiencing respiratory distress.
Dr Minnis revealed the positive test result while announcing the country’s COVID-19 cases have surged by six to 21.
He said health officials, using GIS mapping, have identified hotspots of coronavirus cases in Grand Bahama and eastern New Providence.
“I have already communicated this information to the commissioner of police and he has stepped up and ensured that everyone, inclusive of those in the east, adhere to the curfew and adhere to the policies the government has instituted,” he said.
Dr Minnis said an investigation and contact tracing have begun into Mrs Johnson-Rolle’s case.
He said the government has an agreement in place with air ambulance services to transport ill Family Island residents to New Providence, but when pressed on why the service was not activated to transport Mrs Johnson-Rolle earlier, he said an investigation is ongoing into the matter.
“Medical facilities are there for (Family Islands residents) and we’ve made provisions should any need to be transported to New Providence we will ensure that they can be transported properly,” he said during the press conference.
Dr Minnis pleaded with Family Island residents to stay home.
“Please, do not go wandering from settlement to settlement,” he said. “Do not visit friends or families. Do not allow or accept visitors from other parts of the Bahamas within your jurisdictions. Be careful for those who visit your shores on boats. They can introduce the virus into your territory but be assured that the government will continue to monitor and ensure that our family islands are safe and they will be cared for.
“No resident of New Providence or Grand Bahama should travel to any Family Island or cay. Likewise, no one from the Family Islands or cays should travel to another island or cay.
“Our greatest tool in the fight against this virus is following the public health advice to be physically distant from one another. There is no vaccine for this virus as yet. There is no cure.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan said Bimini is not under quarantine. She said the healthcare facility that received Mrs Johnson-Rolle will be sanitised.
Dr Minnis, meanwhile, said 50 healthcare professionals have been sidelined because they were exposed to the virus.
He announced that effective immediately, private medical and dental practices must eliminate routine and non-emergency physical encounters with patients and provide routine and non-emergency services using virtual or remote means.
He said a volunteer hotline is being set up to register people interested in contributing to the COVID-19 fight.
Asked what tools officials will use to address community spread in the eastern end of New Providence, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, the country’s COVID-19 coordinator, said there are various survey options under review by officials, including rapid testing, temperature monitoring and community quarantine. She said hotpots are determined by the number of contacts per case, among other things.
“We have plotted the cases, we’ve plotted the contacts, we’ve looked not only at the contacts but what the epic-curve is showing us so together temperature monitoring, temperature surveillance, rapid testing which is a survey tool not a diagnostic tool, and we’re looking at the contacts in the hotspots that are having symptoms,” she said.