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Pm Paints Roadmap Back To Normality But Warns: Read My Lips - Don’T Break Quarantine

PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis. (File photo)

PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis. (File photo)

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday revealed the government plans to use technology to track people in quarantine and to impose severe punishment on those breaking isolation rules. In a wide-ranging speech in the assembly he also outlined steps to gradually reopen the country and to bring home Bahamians stuck abroad.

Breaking quarantine could result in a $20,000 fine or up to five years in prison, or both, he said. He also touted statistical analysis suggesting the country’s drastic social distancing rules have reduced the number of deaths and confirmed COVID-19 cases which would have otherwise occurred by now.

His communication came before Parliament passed a resolution to extend his 24-hour curfew and restrictions until May 30.

Citing information provided by Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, coordinator of the country’s COVID-19 response, Dr Minnis said the health team has worked with experts to show that after restrictive measures were imposed, the country averted at least 23 cases by April 9 and prevented what would have been 33 percent more deaths by that date.

“What they’re saying is that the measures we implemented were working and are working and have reduced the number of infected cases by 36 percent,” he said.

“The aforementioned estimated reduction of 23 new cases translates into an estimated reduction of four deaths over this past week. This death reduction estimate is based on the country’s fatality record of eight deaths per 41 confirmed cases. Without the social distancing measures, we estimate the country would have recorded 12 deaths by Day 27. These unrealised deaths represent a 33 percent reduction in the number of estimated COVID-19 related deaths by Day 27. Further, the reduction of 23 cases indicates a reduction in the case load for the doctors and hospital resources, and demand for beds.”

Health officials have been pressed in recent weeks on the strength of their oversight of people in quarantine and isolation.

Dr Minnis said: “Health officials have repeatedly noted that a number of those who should remain in quarantine or isolation at home are not doing so, which could result in greater spread of the virus.”

To address the problem, Dr Minnis said an app will be used to collect anonymous data that will ensure people’s privacy is respected.

“It is envisaged that through the simple action of downloading an app, quarantined and isolated individuals could use their cellphones in a manner similar to a walkie-talkie,” he said, adding they could connect instantly with care agents, send an emergency assist alert for rapid response and talk to family and friends in a secure space with the touch of a single button.

The prime minister revealed his emergency orders have been amended to ensure those who break quarantine are fined up to $20,000, face five years imprisonment or both.

“You break quarantine, we lock you up,” he said.

As for Bahamians struck abroad, Dr Minnis said officials are finalising details to ensure they are brought home and kept in a designated quarantine facility guarded by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

“I know that this has placed a burden on some Bahamians overseas,” he said. “I understand the frustration and worry of their families here at home. In keeping with the protocols of other countries, the government is finalising plans to secure a mandatory quarantine facility to accommodate the return of a number of Bahamians in the United States to New Providence.

“At present there are 200 Bahamians who want to return home during the lockdown of our borders and we are finalising plans to bring those individuals home. I advise all those individuals who want to travel home that they should contact the consul general in Miami so they can be informed as to when they can be brought home.”

Warning that COVID-19 will be with the country for the foreseeable future - even as numbers of cases stabilise and decline - Dr Minnis said his National COVID-19 Coordination Committee has began planning for the gradual reopening of the country, a process they surmise will culminate in the resumption of international travel and full operation of hotels.

According to their plan, the country is currently in phase 1a: essential businesses, hardware, auto parts stores and nurseries are opened, some for just two days per week; NGOs are providing food to the needy with permission and people can exercise for 90 minutes in their neighbourhood from Monday to Friday.

During phase 1b, there could be a relaxation of restrictions on exercise and hardware, nurseries and auto parts stores can expand to five-day online delivery and curb-side services.

During phase two, there could be even further relaxation on exercises and worship services could be permitted with strict social distancing rules and use of masks. Business operations in Family Islands that have not recorded a COVID-19 case could resume during this phase and there could be the resumption of healthcare and manufacturing industry services that can develop protocols to maintain social distancing.

In phase three there would be restriction reopening for non-essential stores, limited education services, relaxation of limits on weddings, funerals and social gatherings, reopening of parks and beaches with social distancing.

During the fourth phase, the government could allow restaurants, cultural facilities, gyms, movie theatres and entertainment faculties to operate with social distancing protocols and masks while resuming office operations and personal services such as hair care and nails with the use of personal protection equipment.

During the fifth phase, international travel can resume, hotels can fully operate along with public transportation and a general lift on movement.

Although he presented the reopening chart, Dr Minnis noted it is subject to change.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

The prime minister revealed his emergency orders have been amended to ensure those who break quarantine are fined up to $20,000, face five years imprisonment or both.

“You break quarantine, we lock you up,” he said.

Here we see in all its glory the epitome of a man totally unsuited in character and demeanor to be PM under our constitutional democracy. Minnis is now exhibiting all of the traits of tyrannical leader on a very demented power trip.

Minnis could very well see fit to next order that those who dare to violate any of 'his orders' will also be subject to having all of their assets of any kind, wherever located, confiscated by 'his state', and/or face the possibility of death before a firing squad of 'his' marksmen police and/or defense force officers.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

P.S.: A 'real' leader would be taking great pains to instill calm while diligently enlightening everyone of the grave risks covid-19 poses to their health if the advised measures are not observed. The measures of course have to be well thought through to ensure they are reasonable, are given with adequate notice and are articulated in a way that clearly spells out the rationale behind. Unnecessarily frightening the hell out of people with extraordinarily punitive penalties smacks of a weak leader who feels he must resort to bullying and terrorization to achieve submission to 'his orders'.

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Clamshell 1 month ago

Well-said, Mudda. Five years in prison for breaking a curfew?

Really? In a nation that lets killers walk away, and won’t investigate a hit-and-run that killed a woman, and they have video, the license number and a description of the car? (See related story.) In a nation that locks up child-rapists for less than 5 years? Really?

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huhwhat 1 month ago

This clown needs to Prorouge the house and call new elections he is unfit to rule anything let alone the Bahamas. This is a Sovereign Democratic Republic; someone needs to teach this man constitutional law.

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tom1912 1 month ago

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas might as well be, as it does not contribute to the bloated budget of the UK and Commonwealth Royal Family ;-) :-) :-)

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RobRolle 1 month ago

It’s great our PM is showing our people how it’s done. No mask. What a doctor… And just copy the approach of “smart” countries who not only see the medical approach but also see the suffering of many people who are out of work and stuck at home. And the mortality rate is just a joke. Better invest in 50’000 test kits and actually start testing more people. The mortality rate in all countries testing big parts of the population is way below the flu. This approach is a total joke. Ok, the first weeks I agree, but now it’s time to give our people the opportunity to work again and make some money. Ridiculous. Am very disappointed where this is going… and especially how he wants to get out of the mess he is creating by stubbornly locking down all our islands. For what? So he can lie in the future about how great the Bahamas survived covid with 50 people dead but 45% unemployed, hundreds of cases of home violence, a total failure in testing and no word about how many die because of unhealthy food, obesity and illness due to lack of money? We could be passing this test so much better. A small, isolated island with no problem of closing all borders… Just a joke how he is handling this. The information provided by the government is absolutely useless. And open the borders, so we can get out for the summer… no work here anyways…

Watch this about the effectivity of various Covid responses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaTYY...">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaTYY...

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DDK 1 month ago

Agreed, Mudda. IF he ever had it, I fear he is losing it!

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xtreme2x 1 month ago

Where will they be lockup?...Fox hill!!!Mmmm...don't know if that will be a good idea.

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TalRussell 1 month ago

Should never be forgotten by colony's First among equals. the I will prosecute their backsides to jail”? mouthed at a section PopoulacesOrdinary whose threatening words are neither forgotten nor taken lightly, so much so that the words mouthed by the founding red shirts first father leader comrade Sir Cecil was the single utterness that was to cost his red party a general election and a credible shot at governing over the colony. God Save us, comrade sister Queen Liz. Nod once for yeah, twice for no?

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huhwhat 1 month ago

These psychopaths installing 5G while everybody is locked up! Look up Pneumonititis Radiation or even better go to the National Toxicology Program Homepage and type 5G into the search bar and sixty years of research on how toxic this is to the human body will be revealed.

This country needs a Terminal Bypass of both parties, Vote Libertarian in 2022!!

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

In reference to this plan to quarantine Bahamians marooned by the govt, someone pointed out today instead of paying the cost to feed and house 200 persons for 2 weeks, why dont they quarantine them for 2 days, test all of them and release the ones who are healthy. if theyre staying in a hotel just make sure it's a hotel with a camera monitoring system to ensure people stay in their rooms. You may end up having to pay the cost to quarantine 10 persons at most.

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DDK 1 month ago

The doc is a terrible painter. Either his advisors give very bad advice or he doesn't listen to the advice, if constructive, possibly a combination of the two. Either way, he is not a capable captain of the ship we call our Bahamas. Under the Westminster system his options should finally be clear...

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

Sidetopic: it would really be nice if rather than pointing out how many people driving up and down in cars...which if you in your car for a drive you not hurting anybody (sure flat tyre etc)...but it would be nice if somebody official warned people about leaning against walls and sitting on the curb. I guess they tired..but how many people lean on or spit on that exact spot before you?

If you feel like youre gonna feint..sure lean on the wall...tradeoffs

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