PLP Leader Philip "Brave" Davis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip “Brave” Davis said because of the coronavirus crisis, the Water & Sewerage Corporation and Bahamas Power & Light should reconnect customers disconnected over arrears.
WSC announced on Monday that it will temporarily suspend disconnections.
Mr Davis also suggested banks institute a temporary halt on foreclosures, adding lending institutions should be patient over loan payments during this ordeal.
Mr Davis said yesterday: “The Water & Sewerage Corporation was correct to hold disconnections. It would also be correct and effective to also consider the reconnection of those whose supply have been disconnected as water is an essential component to adequate hygiene. It is also our view that it would be correct and effective if BPL would proactively support this national containment effort by similarly following the policy of the Water & Sewerage Corporation.”
Mr Davis also said: “The National Insurance Board must provide temporary unemployment assistance.”
NIB has said those laid off due to the crisis can apply for unemployment benefit and those who are quarantined can apply for a sick benefit.
“(There should be) assistance to small and medium sized enterprises and hotels that will be immediately affected and may be forced to reduce working hours and in some cases lay off staff,” Mr Davis said. “The Central Bank must strongly consider easing credit and lowering the cost of capital. Arrangements must be made with financial institutions to temporarily halt foreclosures and demonstrate forbearance with customers regarding loan payments. Measures must be taken to ensure that consumers aren’t being taken advantage of by price-gouging.”
Meanwhile, an infectious disease expert said during the PLP’s press conference yesterday that The Bahamas will inevitably have to lock down the country to contain the novel coronavirus by demanding some people work from home and that certain businesses remain closed for a period.
Jamaica, which has 12 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, implemented strict social distancing measures on Wednesday––ordering all non-essential employees in the private and public sector to work from home for seven days, banning public gatherings of more than 20 people, including for funerals and weddings, and closing all bars, nightclubs and other areas of entertainment.
Dr Melissa Ford, who said she once served in US army medical command as an infectious disease and pulmonary department healthcare worker, said this is where The Bahamas is headed even though the country still has just one confirmed case of the disease.
“We do have to remember that unlike other countries, our country has been deemed by the Ministry of Health to be 75 percent obese and we do carry a lot of co-morbidities and chronic illnesses that will make rapid transmission of this disease catastrophic for us,” she said.
“We only have one case and we’re very fortunate for that. However, there might be several true cases out there that we haven’t confirmed yet and that’s going to be a growing concern for the country. As numbers rise and they will rise in my belief as they have around the world, it will become more important to really examine isolation and mandatory containment and this we found around the world globally has been what has been crucial in the reduction of new cases worldwide. We’ve examined all the data continuously and we find that really, really containing the population is going to be imperative in order to put a cap on the transmission rate of the disease at least until we can as a country come together and get everything in preparation to fight this war that we are going to face.”