TWO hammer blows struck last night – one on our shores, and one across the water in the US.
Four new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in The Bahamas last night, all in New Providence. Only one had travelled recently, to the Dominican Republic. What that means is that they caught it here. That’s called community transmission. It means the virus has been passed from Bahamian to Bahamian. Experts are saying that those four people could have come into contact with as many as 200 people – and they’re trying their best to track who those might have been.
This is why it is so important to stay at home. Each infected person is the first in a chain of dominoes that can topple over, one into another, and the next, and the next, spreading the virus. Staying behind closed doors stops that from reaching other people.
The government is doing what it can – there are already 2,300 testing kits on the island, but do the maths on that. If 200 people who have been in contact with those four people need testing, that’s just under nine percent of the testing kits that will be used on those cases alone.
What is the alternative to this lockdown? Well, sadly, that is where the other hammer struck yesterday.
The United States yesterday became the nation with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world. Ahead of China, despite a smaller population. In just one day yesterday, there were 13,968 new cases. A lack of definite leadership has hurt the US response. Even on Wednesday, the Mississippi governor was not only rejecting a lockdown, but overruling local mayors who wanted to impose stay at home orders.
This is what we are trying to avoid. But the effects of that scale of outbreak in the US is something we will not be able to avoid.
So much of our economy leans on the US that it will be impossible not to feel the impact. On one front, we shall have to be vigilant to ensure a minimum of spread from people when our borders reopen. But on the other front, we must be aware of the huge toll this will cause financially – first to our neighbour, and then by consequence to ourselves.
We cannot control how the US responds to the crisis in their midst. We can control how we respond to our own. If we do not want to follow the rise in numbers, we have to minimise our contact with others. Essential journeys means just that – essential. If you don’t need to go out, don’t go out.
We can only start to respond economically when the virus has been contained and stopped. That is our first task.
Every single Bahamian medical expert is of one voice in this – anyone who thinks they know better than all those doctors is simply wrong.
Stay home. Stay safe. Let’s be the best example to the world, and not follow the worst examples of others.