Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands announced the country’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 outside of New Providence Tuesday, a woman in Grand Bahama with no significant recent travel history.
The country now has five confirmed cases of the virus, with the first case, a 61-year-old New Providence woman, discharged from hospital Tuesday, he said.
Health officials said the Grand Bahama resident presented herself to the healthcare system with a mild respiratory illness and was tested after she developed shortness of breath.
She is currently doing well and is not hospitalised, they said.
Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, health consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister, said the woman has no link to the first case.
For his part, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson urged residents of Grand Bahama not to panic. “Your Grand Bahama health services coronavirus task force has been working along with the national task force to prepare for this eventuality,” he said at the press conference.
Dr Sands emphasised that the restrictions Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Monday, including a 24-hour curfew, applies to all islands.
“Anecdotally,” Dr Sands said, “the greatest concern was in New Providence but we want to be very clear that the regulations and recommendations which hold for New Providences apply to the entire Commonwealth of the Bahamas. This virus does not discriminate and we do not wish to see any of our citizens negatively impacted. In response to these initiatives, what we would like to see as we assess is an impactful reduction in community transmission and a net limit on the total number of cases and a minimal or zero deaths.”
Mr Thompson said through his observation, Grand Bahama residents have been complying with Dr Minnis’ order.
“For the most part what I’ve observed are persons in Grand Bahama abiding by the first order put into place," Mr Thompson said. "It’s too soon to say about the second order but we’ve been advised again by the Royal Bahamas Police Force who have been out and assessing the situation that persons have been complying. The important point to emphasise is we want persons to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary and (to leave home) only in the circumstances that the order speaks to.”
Dr Dahl-Regis said officials anticipate a surge in coronavirus cases.
“We look at the experiences from many countries, plus we’re studying the virus and its pathway,” she said. “We’re also looking at the onset of the first case, new cases, addition of new cases, recovery time and mortality, that is the flow of the stages that is informing our response and preparation but based on a review of that, we anticipate (a surge) and it’s better to be prepared for it.”
Dr Sands said nearly 200 people have been tested for COVID-19 so far. The first 300 of 10,000 ordered test kits have arrived in the country, he said, and an additional 2,500 kits are expected in New Providence by mid-week.
Dr Dahl-Regis said once the additional test kits arrive, officials will be better able to say how they will be used.
“We certainly want to test more people,” she said.