Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis speaks on Sunday.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said $1m is being provided to the National Food Distribution Task Force each week to help people who need food during the COVID-19 crisis.
He said the task force will register people into three categories based on their needs: most vulnerable, moderately vulnerable and least vulnerable. The groups will be helped weekly, every other week and once a month respectively, he said.
“To date, 27,705 households have registered for assistance, representing more than 110,000 people across the length and breadth of our country,” he added.
Dr Minnis also said the government has established a contact tracing command centre at the Melia hotel. The centre will be manned by public health experts with support from the surveillance unit, the National Health Insurance programme, other government ministries and private partnerships, including Aliv.
“This centre will strengthen the surveillance unit’s ability to identify new cases and contacts and to intervene with appropriate measures. Health officials anticipate an increase in the number of new cases over a short period of time. A decrease in new cases is anticipated once all new cases and contacts have been identified.”
Amid recent concerns about the sufficiency of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Dr Minnis said he has been assured that there is enough PPE in the country.
“The inventory of PPEs is monitored daily,” he said. “Key personnel within the Supplies Management Agency identify the quantities of each specific stock on hand; the amount distributed to each public healthcare site; as well as the quantity of new supplies received at our warehouses. I am advised that any temporary shortages within wards or units when they occur, are short-lived as the Supplies Management Agency uses a top-up system that facilitates restocking as soon as inventory reaches a pre-determined level.”
The prime minister also said he will meet with leaders of the Bahamas Nurses Union, Consultant Physician Staff Association and the Bahamas Doctors Union on a more regular basis to consider their concerns and advice.
This comes after doctors and nurses walked off the job over safety concerns and adequate PPE. Lab technicians at PMH also left their posts briefly last week to voice frustration about PPE supplies.
Last night, Dr Minnis also addressed those who are not complying with safety protocols or have sought to downplay the threat of the disease.
“Unfortunately, here at home as in other countries around the world, it seems there are always some contrary souls who, for their own reasons, simply refuse to co-operate. Some of them may be educated but they do not have much mother’s wit,” he said.
“Some even go so far as to minimise the threat. Some try to undermine and mischaracterise our efforts. Some try to sow the seeds of dissension at a time when we so desperately need national unity. Some who really ought to know better, have attempted to undermine the steps we have taken in our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, including curfews and lockdowns.
“But I only ask of them to consider whether, in these circumstances, it is worth it to undermine public health and put at risk the very lives of their fellow citizens. Because it is to protect public health and save Bahamian lives that we have mandated curfews and lockdowns,” he said.