By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE pace at which the Bahamas should reopen its economy will depend on several factors including how effectively officials control COVID-19 cases in isolation and transmission among at-risk populations, an international health emergency official said.
“To gather the impact on the economy we have to remember that all epidemics and disasters cause an economic impact and we have to reestablish that economy as soon as possible,” Dr Ciro Ugarte, director of health emergencies at the Pan American Health Organisation, said during a Zoom press conference yesterday.
His comment came after he was asked by The Tribune about restarting the Bahamian economy.
He continued: “But at the same time we have to recognise that there are several indicators that we need to follow or conditions. One of them is the capacity of the health services to absorb the demand (if) there is another transmission of COVID-19.
“And the other thing is to identify those cases, the capacity to identify, isolate, quarantine the contacts etcetera and the other aspect is that we need to follow which are the populations that are more at risk and of course we have to have all the means to control those outbreaks.
“So it is a question that must be applied to the reality of the country and in some countries also applied to certain areas inside the country that will need a certain approach.”
Earlier in the briefing, PAHO’s director, Dr Carissa Etienne said it is now more vital than ever for countries to reinforce protective measures.
She said: “Based on everything we know, it’s vital that countries reinforce protective measures now and use all tools available to them. This includes proven public health interventions like social distancing, testing, isolating cases and contact tracing.”
In the past week, there have been over 250,000 new cases of the deadly virus in the Americas.
The majority of new cases were reported in the US, followed by Brazil, Canada, Ecuador and Mexico. She said all countries and territories in the region have confirmed cases and PAHO is seeing a growing number of countries with ongoing community transmission: three in North America, seven in South America, one in Central America, and one in the Caribbean.
She also underscored the importance of nations continuing vaccinations for other illnesses like the flu and measles to avoid overwhelming already strained medical resources around the world.