By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
HEALTH Minister Renward Wells yesterday attributed decreased COVID-19 testing in the country to a reduction in cases, as he revealed the virus’ positivity rate is now 12 percent – the lowest it has been in months.
“The reality is the spread of COVID in (the) country is down. That is the absolute reality,” the minister said yesterday in response to a question from The Tribune on reduced testing.
Over the last week, testing declined by 29 percent.
According to information outlined in the Ministry of Health’s daily press releases, between October 20-26, 2,699 tests were administered, whereas from October 27 to November 2, there were 1,905 tests.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen told The Tribune yesterday this was because fewer people were showing up to be tested as there were fewer people exposed to the virus, meaning there were fewer people with symptoms.
Speaking outside Cabinet yesterday, Mr Wells said while the country’s positivity rate had not reached 5 percent or below yet, The Bahamas was moving in that direction.
“The reality is the spread of COVID in (the) country is down,” he said outside of Cabinet. “That is the absolute reality. So, the way you test that is not by the amount of tests that is conducted, (but) you test the spread by what the positivity rate is in your country.
“So, for instance, if my positivity rate is 20 percent in The Bahamas and I test the 10 of you that are here I would expect that at least two of you here would be positive.
“If I move that test up to 100, I’d expect that 20 out of that hundred would be positive.”
He also said: “In this instance, The Bahamas had a positivity rate of 32 percent at the height of this pandemic. The positivity rate is down now around 12 percent as of today.
“So, it’s safe to say that the rate of transmission of COVID-19 in The Bahamas is down.”
Regarding the country’s positivity rate, the minister said: “You’re doing exceptionally well in the country when your positivity rate is under five percent and The Bahamas is moving in that direction.
“We went from 32 down to 12 and so we’re going to be looking to continue our efforts in the Ministry of Health to see if that rate continues to decline, but that’s depended on all of us because the virus just doesn’t spontaneously appear in someone.
“If I have it, I have to transmit it to you. So, adhering to the health protocols is what is stopping the transmission of this virus in the public space and in the public sphere. Obviously, we could see that the fact that we instituted the weekend curfews and we reduced the weekday curfews is having a very positive affect on the rate of transmission and also the Bahamian people have been exercising some discipline.”
However, he was coy in his response when asked if this meant the second wave of COVID-19 was coming to an end.
“I wouldn’t say that and keep my fingers crossed, but I would say that the work that we’ve been doing inside the Ministry of Health, the actions of the government and the competent authority has had a dramatic affect on the rate of transmission of COVID in the country.”
Asked if there would be further relaxation of restrictions, Mr Wells said this was directly tied to case numbers.
“As you could see the tightening and loosening of restrictions mirrors the increase and the reduction of cases, so as cases go down as you would remember in the first wave the government (relaxed) some of its tightening measures. The point where we got around the first of July, we were able to open the country,” the minister said.
He said the ministry was also working on a logistics plan for the COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.
“We are also in the Ministry of Health in regards to COVID putting together a logistics plan so that whenever the vaccine is announced for COVID-19 that we would be able to get it to every Bahamian who wants it in the shortest possible time.
“So we in the Ministry of Health are putting that logistics apparatus together and obviously we already have an apparatus together in regards to flu so we’re just going to augment it to enhance it so that we’re able to touch everyone in the country who would want the COVID vaccine.
“Again I want to state to the Bahamian people (that) no one is going to be forced to take a COVID vaccine, no one.
“You ga (sic) take it because you want it and if you don’t want it you ain’ (got to) take it.”
This comes as the country recorded 31 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday and one additional death. A 48-year-old New Providence woman died on November 2.
As of Monday, 36,409 tests have been completed. One hundred and forty tests were done on Monday.