Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
TESTING for the novel coronavirus is only available in New Providence, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands revealed yesterday.
Dr Sands made the statement outside Cabinet when asked by reporters about the level of preparedness to deal with the virus if a possible case were to arise on the Family Islands.
“All testing is done in New Providence,” Dr Sands said. “So, let me say that I know that there’s many important questions that the public has and you can rest assured that from the very highest level, that we will attempt to make sure that these answers are given even if it means having to repeat it several times.
“And, we’re going to remain available to answer the questions although not necessarily in the timeframe that they’ve posed.”
His comments to the press came after the country recorded its first case of COVID-19 on Sunday. It is not clear whether the government has any plans to send any diagnostic tests for the virus to the Family Islands.
However, Dr Sands maintained yesterday that all concerns related to fast-spreading pandemic will be addressed by government officials in the House of Assembly today.
“I know that this is very important for the public and we want to be sure to let the public know that tomorrow morning in the House of Assembly, a number of ministers will speak pointedly and deliberately to the national response to COVID-19,” he told reporters.
“And, I know that there are many, many questions and we are going to answer every single one of them but at this point, some of the information that is being requested is not going to be revealed until additional field work is done.
“…The prime minister would have outlined the plan and tomorrow in the honourable House of Assembly, we will give another update and we would like to make sure that the message is not being distorted.”
Other updates, according to Dr Sands, will include additional information on the government’s plans to expand the size of the COVID-19 hotline.
The Ministry of Health launched the COVID-19 hotline recently.
Asked by reporters if Bahamians were calling the hotline, the minister said: “They have been and I think we’re going to be expanding the size of the hotline because we would like people to have access to reliable information so we’re expanding the number of phones available.
“And again, when I give my update tomorrow, I’m sure that all of that will be included,” he added.
Up to press time, the latest Ministry of Health COVID-19 dashboard revealed that 11 people are now in quarantine, with one confirmed case in the country. Speaking about the patient’s condition yesterday, Dr Sands said she remained in stable condition.
“We’re going to be providing the public with an update and I can assure that the public health team is doing all of the necessary surveillance and contact tracing, but we will be providing an update very shortly,” he said.
But, in the meantime, the health minister is urging members of the public to use reliable sources for accurate news about the virus.
“There’s a lot of misinformation, I think the prime minister was very clear that the public should listen to reliable sources,” he said.
“So, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health, the chief medical officer and the official teams of the Ministry of Health, if you didn’t hear it from us then I would ask you to question the reliability and the veracity of the message that you’re hearing.”