PLP leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION leader Phillip “Brave” Davis has again hit out at the Minnis administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying yesterday the government did not do enough testing and contact tracing “to stop a few cases from turning into a few thousand”.
Mr Davis made the comments in the House of Assembly yesterday. It was also his first appearance in Parliament since contracting the virus in August.
Mr Davis blamed the rise of COVID-19 cases on the government’s decision to prematurely re-open the country’s borders in July without a proper plan in place.
“Mr Speaker, this spread in infections resulted in thousands of Bahamians contracting the virus over the past few months, along with fellow parliamentarians and members of staff of this place. I was one of them,” he said.
“While each of us is unable to say specifically how we joined in our fellow Bahamians as a dashboard statistic, the overall picture is clear. Our borders reopened despite what immediately became clear.
“The government had not used the many long months of curfew and lockdowns to prepare properly. Today, I want to emphasise how crucial it is that the doctors and nurses on the frontlines be heard and respected. They’re asking for more resources. They tell us that they need more test kits, quicker result, faster (contact) tracing, more beds and more staff. We owe them this much at least.”
Mr Davis also took aim at the government’s COVID-19 testing and contact tracing strategies, saying it “appears to be doing nothing” to increase testing capacity and strengthen its COVID-19 response.
“There was not enough testing or tracing in place to stop a few cases from turning into a few thousand. When the borders opened, what was the number of cases? Today, it is over 4,000,” he said.
“…This is what happened and what continues to happen. Each day, you’re having an average of over 50 and yet the government appears to be doing nothing other than (telling the) tourists to come back soon and this to me is baffling.”
However, Health Minister Renward Wells defended the country’s response to the health crisis, insisting that testing has increased “dramatically” in recent months.
He also highlighted the government’s plans to increase manpower in the healthcare system to aid in the fight against COVID.
“Mr Speaker, we went from being able to do some nearly 300 tests in the country in July to being able to do almost 1,000 tests a day in the country,” he stressed yesterday, responding to Mr Davis. “As a matter of fact, about three days ago when we had 151 cases - that was as a result of 900 tests in one day. That’s on the testing side.
“On the employment side, Mr Speaker, we have about 71 junior nurses who would’ve passed out of the nursing programme and who are currently in the system, Mr Speaker, in health working along with nurses.
“They have not yet passed their exam. I have a commitment from the nursing council that they would allow those nurses to take their exam. I wanted to see it happen at the end of September, but they are now going to be doing it November first.”
He added the government is also in the process of hiring more nurses from abroad to resolve the nursing shortages.