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Experts confirm border move to blame for surge

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

ts-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

A PAN American Health Organisation official has attributed the alarming number of COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas to the opening of borders allowing non-essential travel and citizens visiting destinations where the virus has skyrocketed.

Dr Sylvain Aldighieri, PAHO Deputy Director, answered media questions yesterday during PAHO’s virtual press briefing on COVID-19.

While he commended as vital in the fight against the spread of the disease The Bahamas’ COVID-19 Contact Tracing Task Force, Dr Aldighieri highlighted this country’s heightened cases over the last several days.

The Bahamas recorded 371 cases of COVID-19 from August 1 to August 10.

“… We cannot say that the increase in the number of cases is due to the increase of testing,” Dr Aldighieri said. “We would more favour as it relates with the resuming of non-essential travels and travel to countries that have very high rates of transmission of the virus at the moment.

“We are working very closely with The Bahamas regarding the strengthening and the expansion of the government surveillance network. I would like to flag the importance of the strengthening of contact tracing activities and to highlight the implementation in The Bahamas of the contract tracing strike force which is very important for controlling the amount of cases reported.”

Asked about the effectiveness of lockdowns in the second wave of COVID cases in The Bahamas, Dr Aldighieri said: “The lockdown which was already effective in Grand Bahama has been extended to all islands and the common sense thing is that we have to wait a bit before making conclusions regarding the outcome of this very strong measure.”

The Director of PAHO, Dr Carissa Etienne, the main speaker at the PAHO conference had a strong message for young people in the region saying they are at risk of all aspects of COVID-19 including death.

“Indeed it is important to know that young people are not immune to COVID-19,” Dr Etienne said. “Young people, do not have special powers against COVID-19. They are also at risk for severe sickness, hospitalisation and even death. As of July we have recorded more than 200,000 confirmed and probably COVID-19 infections in adolescents in all regions. More than 10,000 hospitalisations and more than 200 deaths. So not only can young people contract the virus, but even when asymptomatic, they can spread COVID-19 to family members and friends who may be more vulnerable.

“We recognise that youths and adolescents throughout the region are disproportionately affected by a whole range of health issues like violence and suicides and road traffic accidents and substance abuse. Taking care of the mental health of young people during the pandemic is critical, particularly in a region where suicide is the third leading cause of death among adults and youth after homicides and traffic fatalities. So let’s be clear. Suicide is preventable and COVID-19 is also preventable, too.”

Sympathetic towards the regional youth, Dr Etienne said they are impacted differently by COVID-19 precautionary measures.

“We recognise that young people are affected by the pandemic in a unique way. And, they struggle and are impacted differently by prevention measures such as physical distancing and school closures. But we are living in extraordinary circumstances and now more than ever, we need all hands on deck to get through this difficult time in our history. We need the energy and innovation of young people to help us all through these challenging times.

“So to all young people, let me say that at PAHO, we want to encourage you to become engaged in your own health and that of those around you. Follow prevention measures like regular handwashing and physical distancing. Assist or aid a family member or neighbour and support community actions to help that those who are struggling around you have the support that they need.”

Dr. Etienne said young people are a tremendous force for change in the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Comments

bahamian242 2 years ago

We need to hear from more psychiatrist now, instead of virus Doctors. 6 months of this is just too much now........

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tribanon 2 years ago

MINNIS AND D'AGUILAR SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RESIGN FROM GOVERNMENT. IT WAS ENTIRELY THEIR MOST FOOLISH AND STUPID DECISION TO PREMATURELY REOPEN OUR BORDERS TO TRAVELLERS FROM ABROAD, ESPECIALLY THE US. THEY DID THIS AT A TIME WHEN THERE WAS AMPLE EVIDENCE AVAILABLE THAT OUR BORDERS SHOULD BE KEPT CLOSED TO PREVENT OUR COUNTRY FROM BEING OVERWHELMED BY THE DEADLY CHINA VIRUS THAT WAS ABLAZE IN FLORIDA AND MANY OTHER STATES.

AND TO THINK THAT MINNIS WAS HIMSELF MINISTER OF HEALTH AT THE TIME HE AND D'AGUILAR DECIDED TO IMPERIL THE LIVES OF MANY BAHAMIANS, INCLUDING OUR HEALTHCARE WORKERS. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS, BOTH MINNIS AND D'AGUILAR SHOULD IMMEDIATELY RESIGN FROM GOVERNMENT.

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mandela 2 years ago

What is so amazing is that our leaders consult, listen to, and then take as credible views and information everyone else other than its citizens. What these EXPERTS are now saying is late information. We the citizens were telling and screaming this information loud and clear to our Leaders only to be ignored. So yet again we the citizens prove that we are smarter than any consultants they can ever hire and also smarter than them, so if we the citizen are D-Average that makes the Government an F-Average.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years ago

true. numerous voices were consistently asking for metrics for opening safely.

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SP 2 years ago

As usual, regardless of which party is in power, our leaders across the board do not listen to the people. They will spend our tax dollars bringing n "consultants" from far and wide to learn what we the people are screaming for right here!

How do we get beyond a government that is totally deaf to the people that put them in place to do the "peoples" bidding?

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TigerB 2 years ago

We need to move away from that border thing... i'ts not solving anything, yes opeing the borders was the problem. I suppose they will open it again, there is no money here!!. We will have to try and live with this covid, or die trying

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ThisIsOurs 2 years ago

we can't move away from the birder thing until they acknowledge that the mistake was not hard headed Bahamians. If they open the border and keep Bahamians here we will have the same problem again. It may infiltrate more slowly but it will happen again. tourists interact with immigration, customs, baggage handlers taxi drivers, room service, front desk clerks etc etc etc

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Hoda 2 years ago

So u read half the sentence and stop: the opening of borders allowing non-essential travel and citizens visiting destinations where the virus has skyrocketed.

This really is ridiculous now. Yes, the govt, should not of let bahamians come back without a test and bahamians should not have been travelling to covid hotspots. We get yall hate Minnis, he must be grind yall girl didnt invite yall out. But covid cant be so deadly amd lives are at risk yet yall are up here rowing everyday that people are gonna die, but they have no responsibilty to be rational actors.

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The_Oracle 2 years ago

Thy like foreign consultants because they get paid for their input, leave, and Government can safely ignore their recommendations. They cannot ignore competent Bahamians, they start yelling. Our Government fails miserably at logistics, implementation. They can take a good idea and render it unidentifiable. Tired of trying to help them. The hard headed micromanaging tunnel visioned Leadership is the real issue.

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PSherman42 1 year, 10 months ago

Will tourists even want to come? How will tourism bounce back? If tourists aren’t wanted, why would they show up?

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