By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 33, with four new cases diagnosed in New Providence.
The update from health officials came hours after Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands told Parliament that The Bahamas has not yet reached the peak of this outbreak.
With five patients dead out of 33 confirmed cases, the country has a COVID-19 mortality rate of 15%.
Dr Sands said if the nation continues on this path, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed and unable to meet mounting demands. The situation has also highlighted the vulnerability of healthcare workers. Almost one in every five confirmed cases has been a medical professional.
Five people, ages 57 to 80, including noted kidney specialist Dr Judson Eneas, have died as a result of virus related symptoms.
Up to press time, there have been five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Grand Bahama, 27 confirmed cases in New Providence and one confirmed case from Bimini.
The newest confirmed cases are: case #30, a 54-year-old female resident of New Providence with no history of travel; case #31, a 50-year-old male resident of New Providence with no history of travel; case #32, a 62-year-old female of New Providence with no history of travel and case #33, 65-year-old female of New Providence with no history of travel.
Health officials continue to follow the condition of the other 24 COVID-19 positive cases. Three hundred and thirty-nine people are in quarantine.
“On March 13, 2020, The Bahamas recorded its first case of COVID-19. As previously reported, this case was admitted to hospital, subsequently discharged, and clinically has recovered. In less than one month, confirmed COVID-19 positive cases have increased to 29,” Dr Sands told the House of Assembly. He spoke before the cases rose to 33.
“…Epidemics and pandemics do not have linear growth. Look at the curves from every country. They start flat, then curve upward steeply. If we continue on this path, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands. Social and physical distancing and responsible handwashing are the two mitigating actions that will help us to combat the strength of this virus.”
The Elizabeth MP said officials have been considering statistical data to make sound public health decisions and guide policies for returning citizens to work, children to school, and the relaxation of currently imposed restrictions.
Demographically, most of the cases are 40 to 80-years-old.
“. . .There is confirmed community spread of the virus; the way we culturally socialise has fostered this spread; and we have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak in The Bahamas,” he said.
Regarding healthcare workers, he urged Bahamians to stay home as this was the best way to protect frontline staff.
“We are keenly aware of the heightened vulnerability of healthcare workers. Frontline warriors have been exposed to the virus when ill persons visit health facilities. They also come into contact with asymptomatic carriers or persons who show no symptoms but are sources of the virus.
“Interestingly almost one in five confirmed cases, 18 percent, have been healthcare workers. Among these confirmed positive COVID-19 healthcare workers, two have had to be hospitalised. What is more worrisome, is that more than 50 healthcare workers have been identified as contacts of diagnosed/confirmed cases. These healthcare workers are currently in quarantine and are being monitored for the development of symptoms.
“Clearly, if more healthcare workers are removed from the available pool, there will be no soldiers left to fight the COVID war. We must protect our frontline workers. The best way to do this is to stay at home.”
He said the government was mindful that healthcare workers have families. No one is safe at home if someone in the house is serving on the frontline, Dr Sands noted.
To ease this concern, he said the ministry is exploring relief accommodations that can house at least 100 healthcare workers. Such accommodations will permit these workers to rest up in between shifts and even take showers before leaving to go home.