By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
HEALTH officials are investigating three potential COVID-19 deaths as the country recorded 69 confirmed cases of the virus on Friday, a new single-day record.
Health Minister Renward Wells said during Friday’s Ministry of Health press conference: “With increasing hospitalisation the country must brace itself to experience more deaths from COVID-19.”
As of Sunday, 15 people have died from the disease, with one additional death recorded. Twenty new cases were also announced yesterday, bringing the nation’s count to 898, with 777 active cases and 104 recovered cases.
On Friday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan also revealed that at least 30 healthcare workers have tested positive for the virus in the second wave so far.
“This 30 has exceeded the number that we had in the first wave,” she said.
“All healthcare facilities, including the Princess Margaret Hospital, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, community clinics throughout New Providence and the Rand Memorial (Hospital) have been impacted.”
This comes as healthcare workers have protested over workplace safety amid the pandemic and access to personal protective equipment.
Dr McMillan added: “Our healthcare system capacity is challenged to respond to this steep rise in cases and persons under investigation. Our acute care units as well as hospital beds are about to exceed capacity.”
She also said the number of new confirmed cases declined by 40 percent last week compared to the week before.
“We stress a cautious optimism as we look at that, what appears to be a decrease as the coming week will reveal a more instructive picture,” she said.
The National Reference Laboratory is averaging 150 COVID-19 tests a day, but there are three times that number of samples being collected. Officials are working on clearing the backlog.
“Such demand is stressing our capacities in the lab,” Dr McMillan said.
Meanwhile, a new Emergency Powers Order released Friday evening indicated that grocery stores will now be open to the general public on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7am to 7pm. The stores will operate from 7am-6pm on Saturdays for essential workers.
On Abaco, gas stations will be open between 6am and 7pm for refuelling generators; non-governmental organisations will be opened for the production and provision of water and food distribution during that time; and restaurants using takeaway and curbside services will be open from Monday to Friday between 6am to 7pm.