PLP leader supports new measures
PLP leader Philip 'Brave' Davis has given the party's support to the full lockdown announced by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis - though reiterated that the party is continuing to call for more comprehensive testing.
In a statement, he said: "This afternoon you heard the Prime Minister say he consulted with me on the additional measures that he announced this evening which shuts down the country from 8pm this evening until Monday morning 6th April at 5am.
"I wish to say to our supporters, people of goodwill and all Bahamians that we base our decisions about support on the evidence. The professional people indicated that they needed a more complete time of quiet and public inactivity in order to defeat the virus. We are asking all to give these measures time to work."
He insisted that the party was concerned for the effect of coronavirus and the measures to contain it on the most vulnerable.
He said: "I want to assure you however that our concern remains for the poor and needy. There are people who have no food. We must prepare to feed these people and provide support for them. We made our concern for them plain to the Prime Minister.
"The Opposition also continues to stand by its previously held positions of comprehensive testing. These isolation measures cannot be successful unless there is such testing.
"We now repeat our pledge of critical support of these measures. We want the country to succeed. We stand ready to encourage broad support of the measures outlined but we remain watchful on behalf of the public."
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Friday more stringent measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including a complete shutdown of all services in the country until Monday morning.
The new order does not apply to hospitals, hotels with guests, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Defence Force, OPBAT, security companies, media personnel and essential workers for Bahamas Power and Light and the Water and Sewerage Corporations.
Noting the new restrictions as necessary to save lives in the country, Dr Minnis urged Bahamian people to stay home and adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
At 5am on Monday, the prime minister said, the previous curfew will be back in effect.
He said: “There are still too many people on the road going out and about and unfortunately, some people are not taking this matter seriously. We have stepped up police enforcement including in hotspots.
“The physical distancing measures are critical in this fight so I say to you again, please I implore you, I beg you to stay at home. I repeat stay at home.
“Whatever must be done, will be done and it will be painful, but it will save lives.”
Dr Minnis said when the House of Assembly convenes on Monday, officials will provide the Bahamian public with further updates concerning the new orders.
However, in the meantime, Dr Minnis is advising members of the public to comply with the laws.
Also speaking at yesterday’s press conference was Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands who said officials will adjust health services to ensure no vulnerable person will be left out during the increased lockdown.
The health minister’s statement came after he confirmed that five of the 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 are healthcare workers, making up more than 20 percent of confirmed cases.
More than 50 workers, he said, have been taken out of the health care system and are in quarantine.
Noting the matter as a “grave concern”, Dr Sands said it’s important for individuals to take the virus seriously to ensure healthcare workers are not exposed to the virus, as it diminishes the ability of the health system to respond.
“Healthcare workers make up a significant percentage of those infected. Losing healthcare workers in the middle of a surge can have a catastrophic effect,” he stressed.
“Let me explain, if there are fewer trained people to administer care because they are sick, fewer people can be treated and the quality of care diminishes.”
“Consequently, more people die when health care workers catch this virus and hospital systems become strained or they collapse so we must protect our healthcare workers.”
He continued: “This is a grave concern that 21 percent of our cases are healthcare workers. This high percentage of exposure to our healthcare workforce cannot continue or we will find ourselves without enough workers (and) without enough skilled health care providers to wage this war on COVID-19.
“I need you to do your part to protect our healthcare workers and to not overburden the system.”
Dr Sands urged people with any health or other COVID-19 related questions to call the medical professionals in the country or the Ministry of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 376-9350.
Dr Sands said that so far, 281 tests have been carried out by healthcare personnel.
He later added that more than 70 ventilators are now in the country. However, the health minister was clear that not all ventilators will be used for “COVID-19 management” as some will be required for patients with heart problems and other illnesses.
He said: “When you ask the question how many people are trained in the commonwealth of The Bahamas (for ventilators), it is probably a little or less than 100 people total.”
“We believe that there are more than enough ventilators in The Bahamas. We do not intend at this point, to place ventilators in community centers where they will be more dangerous than helpful and so where there are intensive care beds and intensive care beds in Grand Bahama, there will concentrate our critical care initiatives.”
The absence of ventilators and other critical medical supplies has sparked concerns about the readiness of Family Islands for COVID-19, with many telling The Tribune they are unprepared for the virus despite assurances from the government.
To date, there are 24 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, with nearly 300 people in quarantine.
The country recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 death on Wednesday - a Bimini resident and mother of three, Kim Johnson-Rolle.
However, on Friday, the number of COVID-19 deaths rose to three after health officials revealed that two COVID-19 patients who were being hospitalised died Thursday night
Dr Sands said the patients included a 67-year-old female and a 79-year-old male.
Health officials said investigations are being conducted into the details surrounding the cases.
As it relates to the other coronavirus cases, Dr Sands said while the majority of patients are stable, some are very ill.
Reiterating the importance of social distancing, Dr Sands added: “By now we all know about this pandemic. We all know about this virus. The question is now, will we listen? Will we comply? Your compliance is what will defeat this virus.”
“You staying at home, following the emergency orders, listening to public health advice, doing those things will defeat COVID-19. This is not just a crisis unfolding on TV around the world. This virus is here.”
“I need you to listen. I need you to stay at home. I need you to comply.”