THE day we feared would come has finally arrived. A patient from The Bahamas has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. The woman concerned had not travelled recently, so she contracted it here.
There were two waves of reaction to this. The first was the kind we don’t need – the idle speculation and false stories about who the woman was and how she got the virus, circulated on social media and completely false.
The second was the sober plan laid out by the government in response to the news. Schools will be closed until April 14 and restrictions have been placed on travel. Previous restrictions imposed for visitors from Italy, South Korea, Iran and China have been extended to the rest of Europe, including the UK and Ireland.
Limitations such as these are being introduced for one reason – to limit the risk of spreading the virus. With no schools open, children and teachers cannot spread the virus to one another. Reducing the number of people who have access to the country makes it harder for more cases to come in from the outside. These measures give the medical community one thing more than anything else – time. Time to help curtail the spread. Time to deal with the cases they have without being overwhelmed. Time to help our fellow Bahamians.
It is up to us then to play our part. There is little point in keeping children out of school if we pack them up and send them off to large gatherings or to elderly relatives. As much as possible, we should try to limit our own movements. Parties can wait. Get togethers can wait. Carry on with the activities you need to, but for a time, maybe consider each activity before you take part and ask yourself if it really needs to be something you say yes to right now.
Each time you get together with other people, there’s a chance you might pick up the virus. The bigger the crowd, the greater the chance. And you might unwittingly carry it to friends or relatives who are in danger categories. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re safe because you’re not in a risk category – you might be the one who carries it to someone who is.
This is a time for unity. This is when we must think of our fellow Bahamians. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said as much himself in his national address last night – calling for political leaders to work together, and saying he is open to ideas from Opposition Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis. As united as we must be in taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading this virus, so too must our nation’s leaders be united.
As our nation’s anthem says, pledge to excel through love and unity. Show your love for your fellow Bahamians by refraining from actions that could spread the virus, and by taking sensible precautions - not overreacting in panic. Show your unity by following all sensible advice, and not sniping and criticising – and certainly by not sharing irresponsible fake stories on social media.
Together, we can slow the progress of this virus. And if we can do that, we shall march on, Bahamaland, and be all the stronger for doing so together.