0

'We’Re Not Doing Enough Covid Testing'

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Health Minister Dr Duane Sands says The Bahamas is not testing nearly enough people for COVID-19 and he does not support re-opening the country’s borders to people not tested for the virus.

He said the country is testing at a rate lower than 122 other countries and called for random sample testing of the population.

He called for a deliberate and cautious re-opening during his budget communication in the House of Assembly yesterday.

“Let me say it categorically, without a robust and consistent ability to test and definitively screen, isolate and track, if we take our eye off the ball and lessen our vigilance, we can and should expect a second wave of COVID-19 in The Bahamas,” the Elizabeth MP said. “If that happens, I dread even considering the potential economic peril.”

The Minnis administration will re-open the country to commercial flights on July 1. A decision on whether tourists will be required to get a COVID-19 negative test before entry has not been made. However, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar has suggested efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are preferable to requiring a PCR test in part because the latter has time-related limitations.

Dr Sands said: “Yes, we need to restore our economy, but we should not, cannot play Russian roulette. Yes, we should open, but we must do so deliberately, cautiously and carefully and we should do so with data. I do not support a policy that requires Bahamian citizens and residents to be tested that does not place the same level of scrutiny on visitors. If we test any, we test all. And we must test more than we are doing now. That said, if we open, we test, even if we must move heaven and earth to build the capacity.”

Dr Sands resigned as health minister last month over his actions related to the entry of six American permanent residents who brought COVID-19 test supplies to the country, but were not tested for the virus until the day after their arrival.

While he was health minister, Dr Sands defended the country’s COVID-19 testing rates, clashing at times in the House of Assembly with Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis who argued there needed to be wider testing.

In early April, he told Parliament the country had a limited test supply capability.

“Quite simply, there is a limited supply of test kits, swabs and human resources in the National Reference Laboratory,” Dr Sands said at the time.

Yesterday, Dr Sands said based on recommendations from experts, the country should be doing 600 COVID-19 tests per day––far more than what is currently done.

He noted that Harvard experts have recommended 152 tests per 100,000 people as the benchmark for safe reopening of a country.

He said: “On May 8, 2020, we had completed 1,548 tests; 646 tests over 31 days; 22 tests per day, 3.6 percent of target. By no measure is this an adequate amount of testing. Let me say, I understand the limitations and challenges. Believe me, I understand the challenges.

“As we open up Eleuthera, Exuma and other islands, let us be mindful that we are not doing so blindly. Surveillance must be undergirded with testing. Many carriers of COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have atypical symptoms. We should therefore define a rate of random sampling in all communities of RT PCR and antibody testing. While most of the tests will be collected in New Providence and Grand Bahama, every community should have enhanced surveillance and testing.

“In order to position our tourism product as safe, staff should be mandated to engage in courses on safe COVID practices and undergo periodic testing based on bulk purchasing of test capacity through a consortium of labs. The closer we get to the goal of 152 tests per 100,000 or 608 tests per day, 18,000 per month, the stronger the appeal. It may take us several months to reach that level of testing. The programmatic cost of lab equipment, reagents, human resources, swabs, transportation, storage, IT and interpretation could realistically be as much as $200 to $400 per test.

“At the $400 per test benchmark, the cost would be approximately $7 million per month. At $200 per test, $3.5 million. Some of the cost would be recovered from private payers. Ostensibly, The Bahamas would generate the data. Clearly there are ways to offset these costs further, particularly if increased testing leads to safety and less risky economic activity. Persons wishing to participate in the economy would agree to testing and or vaccination once or if available. Hotel visitors, restaurant patrons would also have the comfort of knowing that their wait staff, housekeeping and casino staff are laboratory confirmed to be COVID-free.”

When asked last month if officials identified a target number of tests to complete each day, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 response, did not answer directly, saying at the time that the number of tests being performed––about 36 per day––was adequate.

Comments

DWW 4 weeks ago

what if i said 2 out of 3 people show now symptoms at all? what if is said that the actual real world mortality rate was less than common influenza? would anyone believe me?

0

tribanon 4 weeks ago

You would be wrong and that's why no one would believe you.

0

sweptaway 3 weeks, 6 days ago

you are correct ! It's .00026 % of the population .

0

Hoda 4 weeks ago

Thank you breaking down the numbers for the public as to what testing costs.

0

ISpeakFacts 4 weeks ago

"When asked last month if officials identified a target number of tests to complete each day, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 response, did not answer directly, saying at the time that the number of tests being performed––about 36 per day––was adequate."

What a joke, they aren't even testing 36 people per day, if you look at the daily charts the testing range is 5-10 people per day, A JOKE!!!

Sands and his crew had many months to gather more than enough tests to test the entire population, but he and Minnis were too busy licking the boots of Xi Jinping and the Yellow Chinese species!

0

joeblow 4 weeks ago

On many occasions I said that Sands showed his incompetence by not proactively ordering more tests from Feb/ March of this year, and when they did order tests they did not order swabs. He communicated more clearly than Minnis, but did not aggressively or creatively address the COVID crisis

This is a distractions as he seeks to put himself forth as the martyr candidate. Real money is behind him to contest Minnis, but in truth, neither is fit to lead this country!

1

LawMan98 4 weeks ago

Please stop putting politics in this situation, we have to become ONE unify country right now, I am a student in Canada right now and I can tell you that this virus doesn’t care who made wrong discussions in the past and who is PLP & FNM. The fact is the country has 390,000 citizens and we only tested under 3,000. The first mistake is that we already opened the boarder domestically which means people who have the virus in Nassau who doesn’t know they have it had already gone to the family islands. This is a mistake.

0

joeblow 3 weeks, 6 days ago

@LawMan98... where is the politics in stating the fact that the good Dr. did not do something that a good Dr. would, by simply ordering necessary tests and PPE's in the face of an emerging pandemic? He could have done it but didn't and is now saying we need to do more testing? Sands first mistake was not pushing for CLOSING the border AFTER the first covid case was diagnosed, something any sensible non doctor would have suggested! His statements have the stench of sour grapes!

As for politics, just watch and see if his words and actions are not political-- they are in HIS interest and certainly are not in the national interest!

0

tribanon 4 weeks ago

In truth neither Sands nor Minnis is fit to lead but we certainly know beyond a shadow of doubt which one of them is the most unfit to lead - undeniably Minnis!

0

sweptaway 3 weeks, 6 days ago

They got those 10,000 swab test that those pesky folks they snuck in under total lockdown hidden under all the FEMA stuff for Abaco and Grand Bahama

0

immigrant 4 weeks ago

But he had no problem letting that plane full of people in because they “did not appear to show any symptoms of Covid!” Too bad he didn’t grow a set until he was no longer a puppet. He had the platform to speak his mind loud and proud and now he’s going to question protocol?

0

TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Even the unaccounted for hundreds to thousands deaded, and faked graveyard interned knows that the colony's former substantive health minister's bravery would never have surfaced had he been permitted to remain a loyal substantive crown minister to Minnis's Imperialists red coats organization.
He, comrade Dr. Duane, heself has lots still to personally account for and not be alllowed hide behind his exiting from Minnis's Imperialists red coats organization. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

0

sweptaway 3 weeks, 6 days ago

you want children over two years old tested to travel? Stick that swab up your nose into your eardrum and get back to me . As being tested to travel the swab has to be driven up into your sinus 2 inches ! It is not for the faint hearted.

0

TalRussell 3 weeks, 6 days ago

Actually, ma comrade, the once landed in the country swaps caught up in the Minnis's Imperialists' Red Shirts Organisation's private plane scandal have long been declared too cruel a nose obsolete test method - now given way to a no longer required painful up back end nose method test method COVID-13.
Hard to now fathom how the once landed in the country but never got around using test swaps had cost the crown's former substantive health minister would be so moved to stand up on floor House from opposition benches to expose the secret ways the Minnis's Imperialists' Red Coats Oraganisation?

0

TigerB 3 weeks, 6 days ago

IF you can check Yahoo news sometime today you would see that Las Vegas open on Monday.. dem buggers already carrying on as though there was no Corona at all. They not wearing mask, partying like crazy, no protocol what so ever. Some of those may end up here.

0

ohdrap4 3 weeks, 6 days ago

There is also a video in youtube showing people cavorting and drinking on lake geneva where the WHO headquarters is.

They do not need to test. They need to open the economy.

0

ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 6 days ago

This is like groundhog day. We're at the same point we were at in March before 100,000 people died in the US. This is just a hoax. And we waited to act until the severe infections, that were inevitable, started coming in. This round may, "may", be even more serious because people are tired of restrictions. In fact why don't we have carnival in August to celebrate COVID Over?

0

Hoda 3 weeks, 5 days ago

Again, this is why Sands makes no sense and is very deceitful. He is the brillant doctor, was the substantive Min of Health ane made no preparations and developed no plan for covid. All he did was hold press conferences. he sounds smart, to the average Bahamian, and dresses nice so he was praised for doing nothing.

0

Economist 3 weeks, 6 days ago

I think that you will find that Dr. Dahl-Regis put a stop to an order of 10,000 tests because she felt that they were too expensive. Yet Bahamasair can burn through $10 million in 3 months.

Guess bahamaair 600 or 700 staff more important tha the lives of 390,000 Bahamians.

0

tribanon 3 weeks, 5 days ago

It's hard to understand and accept an airline's board being chaired by someone like Tommy Turnquest? Talk about a recipe for financial disaster!

0

EricC 3 weeks, 6 days ago

We should require visitors to have tested negative before allowing them entry, intelligent people will understand this and be more likely to risk travel to,a country which has strict protocols and an extremely low amount of cases. Would you want to risk travel to one of the US hot spots tomorrow?
A cautious approach and low rates of infection could actually make our destination more popular i the short term.

0

TalRussell 3 weeks, 5 days ago

It is mportant to begin to restart the economy but not in the way being targeted to flung the doors wide open come July 1, 2020. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

0

Sign in to comment