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Editorial: The Worst Thing We Can Possibly Do Now Is Panic

With coronavirus news sweeping the world, it is easy to get caught up in the reports of flight bans, Disneyland and Broadway closing and let fear get to us.

The result can be the exact opposite of what these measures are trying to achieve – protecting people rather than exposing them to risk. Instead, people dash to stores to over-stock up on items when they don’t need to, or burden the medical sector with concerns when the country has not recorded a single case of coronavirus.

We need to take a moment. Take a breath.

It is appropriate to be concerned and to make suitable preparations. But you don’t need to stock up on a year’s worth of toilet paper, or go from never buying bleach to buying every container you can find. Be sensible.

In yesterday’s Tribune, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said the country expects a worst case scenario of 400 cases of coronavirus. That would take a considerable period of time – if you look at how the virus has affected other countries, weeks have passed since a first case before measures to restrict movement have been put in place. If you fill your cupboard with snacks right now, they’ll be like the hurricane snacks that are long gone before the storm arrives.

Measures are being taken already to reduce risk – but that is out of an abundance of caution. Sporting events are being postponed or cancelled, and that is not a sign that you need to panic, but rather a sign of being cautious. For some of these, it’s a case of asking why take the risk rather than pressing on regardless. It’s being sensible.

We need to be aware that even for those who catch the virus, the majority will be fine. What is important is to minimise the risk of spreading the virus to those who might not be fine if they catch it. We’ve said it before in this newspaper many times – wash your hands thoroughly, use sanitisers, keep your distance from people, avoid shaking hands, isolate yourself if you have symptoms or feel you might have been exposed to someone with the virus. These aren’t things that will change your world – but they can help to reduce the spread of germs and the virus, and that might stop it reaching others.

Equally, if you don’t need medical care, don’t clog up the system and stop others from getting care they might need.

And if you’ve got an elderly neighbour, especially one who lives on their own? Check in on them. Keep your distance so you don’t spread any bugs yourself, but stay in regular contact and help them out with their own preparations.

Clear communication at government level is also important – President Donald Trump created confusion last night when stating that air travel from all of Europe was banned apart from the UK, and including cargo flights. It turns out a number of European countries are not included in the ban, and cargo will continue as normal. That kind of miscommunication can lead to people rushing to find out if they are affected – and further jamming up switchboards and helplines.

Yesterday, the strength of clear communication was on show with a quick response from the Ministry of Transport to news of a cruise ship – registered under a Bahamian flag - with five people on board diagnosed with coronavirus headed for Bahamian waters. The ministry quickly said the boat would not be allowed to dock. Again, no need for panic.

Follow the guidelines, listen to reliable sources – and not the fake reports going round, the kind that led the University of The Bahamas to have to come out and tell people they’re not closing their doors. Sources that spread lies are trying to scare you – so don’t give them the satisfaction.

We reiterate – no one in The Bahamas has been diagnosed with the coronavirus as yet. Unlike other countries, we have been in a position where we can prepare, we can learn from the response of other nations, and we can be ready to isolate anyone affected if necessary.

There is a difference between preparation and panic. We need to do more of the former, and none of the latter.

Comments

joeblow 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Repost:

This virus is different from other viruses that cause colds and flus because it can be spread WITHOUT a person having any symptoms. In fact, many people many have no fevers at all, some people simply feel tired. This is complicated by the fact that this virus is present DURING a flu season, making it more difficult to determine if those who have symptoms have it because of usual viruses or COVID 19.

It is also believed the virus can be spread by contact since it has been found to live up to 9 days on surfaces, hence the suggestion of frequent hand washing and cleaning surfaces with a suitable disinfectant.

At the end of the day eat properly (which is something most Bahamians do not do), avoid public places if possible, wash hands often after contact with others, don't go to visit elderly relatives if you don't feel well and avoid touching the face or eyes with unwashed hands!

If all else fails and symptoms worsen, call an ambulance. Don't just go to the emergency room because you might pick up something you do not have!

Pray and hope for the best!

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

But expect there be increased panic that sets in when the Colony's comrade PopoulacesOrdinary, are worried scared stiff over not seeing evidence of proactive steps being taken to the new coronoavirus by their government. This is not a government thing - nor a me thing - it's a we thing. We all want to work with we government. It's the only constitutionally elected one we have. Shine some light on your much promised transparency. Yeah, no?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

My panic set in immediately after the outcome of the May 2017 general election. Hubert Ingraham did our country a great disservice by his dreadful sore loser conduct following his last defeat to Perry Christie. Ingraham left a great vacuum rather than attempting to assist in finding a suitably qualified successor leader for the FNM as the minority government following Christie's win. That fateful mistake by Ingraham allowed the very incompetent, arrogant and nasty Minnis to bully his way to the leadership post of the then FNM minority government. The vast majority of the Bahamian people are now paying a very dear price for Ingraham's sore loser behavior at that most critical point in time in the history of politics in our country.

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bogart 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Isn't it time that the Commonwealth of the Bahamas declare emmergency measures have trained units mobilized inspecting areas. Declaring National Emmergency. Shutting down areas commonly frequented like Gambling houses some hundreds of them in urban areas....... Sharing supplies that urban impoverished areas can use, going onto shantytowns bilingual information etc. Its the peoples time to now render assistance znd not 2 weeks before election.

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SP 6 months, 2 weeks ago

which idiot genius is responsible for this asinine factless editorial?

Firstly, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands saying the country expects a worst-case scenario of 400 cases of coronavirus, and that it would take a considerable period of time is totally, absolutely incorrect, irresponsible, and not based on a shred of scientific data!. Actually, – if you look at how the virus has affected Italy, weeks had passed since a first case before minimal measures were put in place by the government to restrict movement were put in place, and the result of this half stepping measure by the Italian government proved an unimaginable devastating failure and nightmare of epic proportions. The end result being the shut down of the entire country with a population of 60 million people.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...">https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/...

The Bahamas can either learn from Italy's fatal mistakes, bite the bullet now and institute a "controlled" shut down of the country for 30 days to allow the virus to run its course, or we can play the normal idiotic, stupid political "wait until its too late" games and allow the virus to overwhelm us, resulting in the U.S. declaring us a "no go destination" due to unchecked Covid19 as they have done with the E.U.

This is a total no-brainer even for Christie and Ingraham. Let's see what our elected geniuses conclude.

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Porcupine 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Unfortunately, you are right. Especially now that they are saying it IS being transmitted by people with no symptoms.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I heard Laing say "testing won't cure the disease" basically dismissing persons calling for more testing. I was a little shocked. There's already accounts that early and wide spread testing is how Singapore has avoided the exponential spike seen in Italy and China. The problem is I'm not sure what capacity we have to get sufficient test kits. They don't have enough in the US for even their population.

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Porcupine 6 months, 2 weeks ago

REPOST Dr. Sands is completely wrong in his prediction. There is nobody on earth who has immunity to this disease. He has no basis for this irresponsible remark when epidemiology experts are saying populations could experience up to 80% of their populations contracting it. He should be focused on informing us exactly how many respirators exist in the entire country and preparing the ground for many cases. We already know that PMH is woefully unprepared for this situation. Under the best of circumstances, we have people in gurneys in the halls. Our shortsightedness in allowing a chronic shortage of nurses, facilities, and medicines will assure that we will have the greatest number of casualties due to lack of available medical care. Most people with this virus, given the proper health support, will survive. Most of the thousands of deaths now being recorded are due to lack of available hospital services and the health condition of the elderly. Our health care system must also continue the ongoing and regular hospital services needed by our population, in general. This is a catastrophe in the making and the government of The Bahamas must institute measures such as closing all schools and public gatherings to minimize the outbreak numbers such that our limited medical facilities at PMH and Doctor's Hospital are not overwhelmed. The time for action has already passed. Why are we still waffling? Sands, get a grip and take significant preventative measures. Older people must not go out. Close the schools. Discourage public gatherings. Close ports of entry. Inform the public of the number and amounts of critical medical resources this country has available. Perhaps we need to consult with "experts" outside our country for advice.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

"But you don’t need to stock up on a year’s worth of toilet paper"

True story Madam editor: I've been thinking for over 10 years on the need to stock up on cases of toilet paper and canned good "in the event of". The only thing that's precluded execution is the question of where to store it safely!? All the planning would be worthless if the minute "the event" happened roaving bandits came and took it all.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There's nothing I fear more, than toilet paper bandits. What is this world coming to? My Lord.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 1 week ago

well yeah but the tp would be stored next to the tuna sardines potatoes seeds water ...the bandits might notice them...I'm not sure...

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Not really sure how Dr. Sands can make such a prediction considering there is no cure, no vaccine and it spreads easily. To say the worst case scenario will only be 400 cases is just downright untrue and irresponsible. This is what scares me about this virus in the Bahamas. Bullsh-t like this.

And where do we get the test kits? The US? Same US with the test kit shortage?

Have we closed our borders? Stopped all inter island travel? Set up quarantine protocols for hundreds or god forbid thousands of possible cases?

How will we deal with the economic fallout if we shut down like other countries have been forced to?

Not a time to panic, I agree. Time to plan for an actual worst case not a made up number....

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Coronavirus, Sharonavirus. Big deal. Now if you fellas were talking about some world-wide shortage of coffee beans, I could understand the panic. Geesh.

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