HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said the number of coronavirus cases in the country is expected to increase in the coming days.
His comment came after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed confirmed cases had risen to three. Dr Minnis said the two new cases are household members of the first person to test positive for COVID-19, a 61-year-old woman. The two new cases had travelled to jurisdictions with known community transmission: Canada, Trinidad and Dubai.
“These household contacts have been quarantined and samples taken for testing,” he said.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said after a press conference yesterday the two people are not in hospital.
Dr Brennen said the technical team of the Ministry of Health has continued to recommend that social distancing polices be made an “institution,” not just recommendations for preventing spread of the novel coronavirus.
Some health officials expected Dr Minnis to announce mandatory social distancing orders yesterday when he brought emergency powers regulations to the House of Assembly, however he did not.
The prime minister did not directly answer reporters who asked him after the House of Assembly when he will make orders under the new regulations.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan said the surveillance team of the Ministry of Health, which has ten members, would struggle to trace contacts for all three confirmed cases of the coronavirus as effectively as needed. She said the team will have to be augmented with additional staff. “Certainly our human resource capacity within the Ministry of Health, the surveillance unit, is something we are actually looking at augmenting,” she said. “We have the now three cases and we have to do contact tracing for all three and as the circle widens it may require that we need to augment out capacity. We’ve been looking at bringing in other categories of staff that can potentially augment and assist with probably doing the testing and as well as probably get additional nurses by shutting down some of our usual business work within the minister and Department of Public Health.”
Dr McMillan said the Ministry of Health’s hotline has been “ringing off the hook” with calls. She said officials are looking at expanding its call numbers.
Dr Sands also said the country has additional test kits, with more on the way.