PLP leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Liberal Party wants the government to expand its contact tracing team, provide free COVID-19 testing and create more testing centres, insisting the measures are necessary in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus amid the country’s second wave.
Saying the country is losing its fight against COVID-19, opposition leader Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday called on the government to follow his party’s recommendations as he released its COVID action plan on curbing the disease’s spread.
In a country where newly confirmed cases average between 500 to 600 weekly, Mr Davis said it is time for the Minnis administration to change its current course and adopt new strategies to better strengthen the country’s fight against the virus.
“We are now many months into this global health crisis,” the opposition leader said during yesterday’s press conference at the PLP’s headquarters.
“Some countries are succeeding, and some countries are failing. Right now, with 500 to 600 new cases on the dashboard every week and the real numbers significantly higher, The Bahamas is failing. But there is no reason we can’t change that. I want to be very clear on this point. We can succeed. There is a way forward.”
The measures propose free testing to all Bahamians who have been exposed to the virus, increased testing, expanded testing centres and additional contact tracers — something the PLP has repeatedly called for since the onset of the pandemic.
The party also recommends that healthcare workers and government employees on the front line be tested regularly.
Yesterday, the Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP added: “If they were to adopt the plans that we are putting forward today, which starts off with the principles and overarching tools of that plan is testing and rapid results, contact tracing and rapid contact tracing, and treatment and isolation, if we start off with those key tools, we think that will be the answer to stopping transmission and getting us back to where we need to be.”
The party’s recommendations also include the introduction of a national education campaign to better educate Bahamians about the COVID threat.
Mr Davis said while he understands the measures recommended by his party are not inexpensive, preserving life is what’s most important.
“I think that the health crisis that we are now experiencing requires priority over anything else in this country at this time and choices and priority always define a government or a people,” he replied when asked if he thought more money should be allocated towards testing instead of other projects.
“And if you’re going to choose to dig up sidewalks over the health of your people, it tells you what kind of government you are. I would’ve thought a Brave Davis administration would be paying more attention to its people and its health rather than completing or restoring or building sidewalks.”
Last week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced new restrictions for residents of New Providence and Abaco due to high COVID-19 case numbers on the islands, including a weekend lockdown and stricter curfew hours.
Health Minister Renward Wells told reporters on Tuesday health officials are recommending more stringent measures to prevent further community spread, particularly in New Providence.
Asked yesterday if he would support a stricter lockdown, Mr Davis replied: “Lockdowns don’t work…The purpose of lockdowns is to ensure that you put in place to give you time and the basic infrastructure to assist you and aid you in testing treatment and isolation.
“That is what lockdowns are for. Lockdowns are not to punish people, it is to give the government and the political directives the opportunity to put in place those infrastructure and tools that are necessary to defeat the virus. We have squandered all the time and look where we are now.”