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‘We must not let our guard down’: Expert warns fall-off in numbers doesn't signal COVID crisis is over

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Dr Nikkiah Forbes

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

A LOCAL infectious disease expert is urging residents not to become relaxed about the apparent downward trend of COVID-19 cases, explaining other factors might be contributing to those lower numbers.

Dr Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health, said scientific data must be taken into account when making a determination on lower numbers and controlling an outbreak of COVID-19.

“So yes, cases are starting to trend down, however, there are things that influence the number of persons testing positive,” she said yesterday.

“It’s called biases in testing reporting. There are other factors that contribute to that. For example if you have a two-day lockdown, maybe persons aren’t going in to get tested on those days, or the lab may be compiling samples and running them every two days. So you do have to consider other things.”

“There is a reason why we have to use other indicators because there are biases when looking at just persons who are testing positive. We want to know that the outbreak is under control and we want to have more scientific information that can support that. We also want to know things like the percentage of persons testing positive out of all the tests done. Those are indicators that will make us know what is happening with the outbreak as we manage the outbreak.”

She said while the country is starting to see a decrease in the number of people testing positive and also being hospitalized, there is a lot more work to be done.

“We want to continue on that trend and now is the time to keep our focus and continue prevention and, of course, other outbreak control strategies. In an effort to see those cases come down, we have more to do,” Dr Forbes continued. “We don’t want to relax and become complacent and the cases go back up”.

Health officials reported 39 additional cases of COVID on Wednesday. The death toll from the disease stood at 150 up to press time.

Over the last week or so, cases have been falling along with testing numbers. Health Minister Renward Wells has said this is because less symptomatic people are coming to health facilities to be tested. He also said the spread of COVID-19 is down.

“If you compare the first and second wave, yes, 53 cases per day is lower than it had been a few weeks ago,” Dr Forbes said yesterday. “I am happy about that. However, remember that is way more cases than we had in our highest numbers in the first wave. We must keep our focus and continue to have these numbers come down to get the outbreak controlled in our country.”

Dr Forbes also touched on the science involved in dealing with COVID-19.

“There are several indicators that scientists look at as we analyse the COVID outbreak and what’s happening in countries,” she said. “One of those indicators is the number of persons being recorded as lab confirmed positive on a daily basis. We also look at the number of hospitalisations. There are other indicators and some of them are trends in the number of deaths per day.

“We also want to look at persons presenting with compatible symptoms with other influenza-like illnesses and where possible, people who are presenting for other reasons could be tested to see if they are COVID possible or had COVID. It gives you an idea of what’s happening with COVID in your country. It tells you about the outbreak and how many cases you might have.”

Realizing that the pandemic will be a problem for some time, Dr Forbes said a balance has to be created in terms of living with it as it is “not going anywhere”.

“Having had the opportunity to hear the experience of multiple other countries in the world, there is something that all these countries have in common, including us, which is when the first wave of COVID happened there were very tough restrictions and the curve was flattened,” Dr Forbes said.

“With the reopening and things going back to more normalcy, the economy reopening, global travel, commerce, people moving about, the second wave happened. We are no different. We have to balance health, the economy and socialisation because COVID is not going away. It’s going to be here for quite a while.”

Regarding the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Forbes noted that when available it is not going to be “a sudden magic bullet” to COVID-19.

There is no cure for COVID-19 right now, so the only thing the country has in its arsenal is prevention, she said.

Comments

whogothere 1 year, 9 months ago

Guys give it up...we done here...3 people in icu in Nassau, cases a dribble...and it happened all without a lockdown in Nassau, with mask mandates that were useless, social distancing that was half followed...Will there be pockets of increase? Yes. But this is not emergency (aside from the economic this stupid panic has caused) - time to get back to your day job, leave the tents up in pmH though - they need extra space for all the delayed diagnostics, procedures these idiotic travel restrictions have caused.... Hindsight 2020 but if we deployed august strategy (Basically Sweden’s approach) in March, we could have been out this like we are by may....instead the lockdown has done untold damage Socially, economically and medically I only hope Minnis stands up and apologizes (haaaa!)

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newcitizen 1 year, 9 months ago

Go back to posting on Facebook!

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whogothere 1 year, 9 months ago

Facts are tough for you I see. You must be one of those panic porn junkies...

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tribanon 1 year, 9 months ago

Can't believe she's cautiously signaling the second wave may be behind us when it hasn't even arrived in the Bahamas yet. The UK, Europe, etc. have only just begun serious tough measures to combat their second wave of the deadly Communist China Virus as well as the start of a flu season that's only going to get much worse. Mid-December through mid-April is when we're most likely going to be clobbered with a huge surge in COVID-19 mixed in with a bad flu season to create a double whammy of misery.

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themessenger 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes, we'd conveniently forgotten that you're an eminent infectious disease expert.

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tribanon 1 year, 9 months ago

No need for you to be so facetious with her. LOL

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ohdrap4 1 year, 9 months ago

They got a taste of the medical dictatorial complex and are not giving it up.

Remember, the nazi doctors were eminent experts and even geniuses. I no longer trust doctors.

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