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COVID-19: No flattening of the curve for New Providence

By LEANDRA ROLLE


Tribune Staff Reporter


lrolle@tribunemedia.net 

CHIEF Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan revealed Friday that health officials have not yet seen a flattening of the curve for New Providence, with data suggesting the number of COVID-19 cases could continue to increase for the island in the days ahead.

Speaking during a Ministry of Health press conference, Dr McMillan noted that one out of every 100 “Nassuvians” have been infected with virus, “a stark reality” that continues to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system. 

The chief medical officer said while Grand Bahama has made steady progress in its fight against the novel coronavirus, New Providence continues to be the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, with transmission increasing on the island “significantly.” 

This as Dr McMillan confirmed the nation’s COVID-19 positivity rate has remained consistent at around 22 to 29 percent.

Officials further skirted around questions of whether the Ministry of Health was consulted ahead of the Ministry of Tourism’s announcement that the 14-day quarantine is being revoked come November 1. 

Instead, Dr McMillan would only say both ministries continued to work together.

“Our data shows nearly all new cases are concentrated in the capital,” she said.

“Though daily new cases fluctuate with peaks in early and late September, a flattening is not being preserved given the increasing height of the orange line. The stark reality is one in every 100 Nassuvians have been infected with COVID-19. Of importance, the hill curve suggests that the number of new cases in New Providence will continue to increase and follow the projected path.”

While painting a grim picture of the COVID-19 situation for New Providence, Dr McMillan was still hopeful the country could still defeat the virus, urging Bahamians to do their part in following all the necessary health protocols. 

Her calls for more public adherence were also echoed by Health Minister Renward Wells, who noted that the uptick in cases comes as the country is in its phased re-opening of the economy. 

From the onset of the pandemic, the government had implemented a number of restrictions to reduce COVID-19 spread within communities, including the shutdown of non-essential businesses and beaches and parks.

Many of those restrictions have since been relaxed, with the reopening of the tourism sector set for October 15.

Regarding the COVID-19 positivity rate, Dr McMillan said: “(It) remains fairly consistent in the recent past ranging between 22 and 29 percent. This is from epi-week 36 to epi-week 40, we’ve been fairly consistent in our positivity percent – 22 to 29.” 

According to various medical sources including John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a high percent positive means that more testing should probably be done—and it suggests that it is not a good time to relax restrictions aimed at reducing coronavirus transmission. Because a high percentage of positive tests suggests high coronavirus infection rates (due to high transmission in the community), a high percent positive can indicate it may be a good time to add restrictions to slow the spread of disease.

The higher the percent positive is, the more concerning it is. As a rule of thumb, however, one threshold for the percent positive being “too high” is five percent. 

The World Health Organisation recommended in May that the percent positive remain below five percent for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening.

As it relates to Abaco, Dr Gillian Bartlett, who heads the Family Islands COVID-19 taskforce team, said on Friday: “What we’re seeing on grounds of Abaco is definitely an increase of COVID, mostly on mainland Abaco Cooper’s Town, Marsh Harbour and also in Sand Point area, we’re just having a lot of persons presenting to our clinics with side symptoms of COVID.

“…And when you contact trace, you also find that those persons (who they) have been in close contact with are also coming down with symptoms so that’s seem to be widening the spread in Abaco and it definitely is an island of concern.” 

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Minister of Health Renward Wells.

Asked about the country’s readiness for a possible third wave given the continued strain being put on medical professionals, Minister of Health Reward Wells noted that his ministry is doing all it can to pool in more resources and strengthen its fight against COVID.

His comments came after health officials revealed that 243 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID to date. 

“We are in the process of seeking as best as we can to upgrade our infrastructural facilities. We would’ve already spoken to the fact that we are on the process of seeking to source additional healthcare personnel to add to our current complement,” he said.

“We’re looking at how we can source additional testing equipment so in every sphere that is necessary to be able to deliver the kind of care on behalf of from this ministry to the Bahamian people, we are seeking how best we can augment and increase those capacities.”

“.. but there need to be certainly a level of personal responsibility on the part of our people. This virus just doesn’t spontaneously generate within persons. It is transmitted by contact and we need to adhere to the health protocols that have been put out.” 

Mr Wells said a total of 4,220 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in The Bahamas as of Thursday, October 1, 2020.

“Of that number 2,290 cases have recovered and 1,803 remain active. This translates to a recovery rate of 54.3 per cent,” he explained. “Ninety-three active cases are hospitalised while the remaining cases are in quarantine.”

He said as of Thursday, New Providence has recorded the majority of cases with a total of 3,099. This is followed by: Grand Bahama with 635; Abaco with 145; Exuma with 32; Inagua with 19; Eleuthera 22; Long Island 12; Andros 8eight; and 156 cases with locations pending.

The Health Minister noted that Bimini, which has reported a total of 54 confirmed cases, has maintained 28 days with no new confirmed cases.

He stated that for September, 2020, Mayaguana recorded only one new case.

With “an average COVID-19 death” per day, the Bahamas has a mortality rate of 2.27 per cent. 

Dr McMillan also noted that data has been consistent in its findings in showing that younger people are more impacted by COVID in the country’s second wave compared to the first wave. 

This, she added, shows that the country’s efforts to reduce transmission to the older, more vulnerable population appears to be successful.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 year, 10 months ago

So Minnis lied last week when he said we're coming out of it...

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 10 months ago

If Nassau isn't locked down for the next 4 to 6 weeks infections won't slow or stop, it'll be just like Florida. Cases upon cases, deaths upon deaths, day after day....

And this stupid idea of opening out borders to Florida again... What the hell? Why? That's just stupid...

This let em die plan is just evil...

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tribanon 1 year, 10 months ago

To your last point: Minnis is the very definition of evil !!

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bahamianson 1 year, 10 months ago

Yes the infections will stop, look at freeport. No new cases, but we can't.lock down for two weeks again. I don't.want this Damn Virus , so you people need to be responsible. Wear your mask, stop driving all over the place to visit people, stop partying and going to family gatherings!!! Dammit, be responsible for once in your lives. Why does the innocent always have to suffer for selfish people. Stop being selfish and think about others for a.change. What about being our Brothers Keeper?

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

The second wave of these types of viruses is always more aggressive (contiguous) and the spread is usually more rapid. And while deaths have increased, the increase is not as great as the increase in infections And hospitalizations are also somewhat constant. But the silver lining is that the recovery period for those infected seems to be shorter. And as more of those who are infected recover, they are supposed to provide herd immunity for the rest of the population. But will this happen if the borders are swung open widely and foreigners continue to bring different strains of the COVID-19 virus into the country? Will there eventually be a vaccine? Some experts don't think so. The problem with viruses such as Covid-19 and even AIDS is they continue to mutate. So by the time a vaccine is developed, tested properly, and released into the general population, the disease has changed and so the vaccine is no longer effective or less effective. And so the route may be to take medications that suppress the disease (like is done with AIDS and the virus no longer is harmful or detectable.

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

And if likened to The Spanis Flu: "There were 3 different waves of illness during the pandemic, starting in March 1918 and subsiding by summer of 1919. The pandemic peaked in the U.S. during the second wave, in the fall of 1918. This highly fatal second wave was responsible for most of the U.S. deaths attributed to the pandemic. A third wave of illness occurred during the winter and spring of 1919, adding to the pandemic death toll. The third wave of the pandemic subsided during the summer of 1919. An estimated 1/3 of the world’s population was infected with the 1918 flu virus – resulting in at least 50 million deaths worldwide." So despite the infection rate, The Bahamas is faring well when it comes to deaths and hopefully, this pandemic will be gone by the middle of next year as the third wave (Spanish flu) was short-lived and less deadly because of the safety measures (masks, social distancing, etc.).

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 10 months ago

but Dr Minnis said were nearing the end of the 2nd wave. And he's a doctor.

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

As long as a country's borders are open, that country's waves will be directly correlated with the world, and more especially those countries to which persons travel to and from. Actions the country take internally, like social distancing, wearing of masks and lockdowns of the beaches etc.,will curb the number of cases and the severity of the illness, but the waves will be determined otherwise. Then there is the question of reinfection.

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