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On-Off Lockdown - Is It Worth It? Senior Health Official Suggests Weekend Closures May Do Little

photo

Dr Nikkiah Forbes

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WITH nearly 300 COVID-19 cases recorded over the last several days, a local infectious diseases expert has suggested partial lockdowns have not been an effective tool in stopping the spread of the deadly virus in The Bahamas.

Dr Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health, told The Tribune yesterday that she is not a fan of partial lockdowns. She said the country may need to sit and ponder whether the measure meets the desired expectation.

“I think that it is safe to say that partial lockdowns may not be effective. It really depends on what people are doing outside of the curfew and restrictive period – on the weekends and after seven,” Dr Forbes said Tuesday.

According to the Ministry of Health, 150 new COVID-19 cases were recorded Monday along with one more death. More than half of these were in New Providence, where 81 new cases were added, while 67 cases had locations pending. There was also one new case in Abaco and an additional case in Andros.

Sunday saw 70 new cases – 68 in the capital, one in Eleuthera and one in the Berry Islands.

There were also 75 new cases on Saturday, including 61 in New Providence, nine in Grand Bahama, two in both Andros and Eleuthera and one in Exuma.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis imposed weekend lockdowns and a 7pm nightly curfew on New Providence and Abaco, among other measures, in response to rising cases on these islands. He said the continuance of weekend lockdowns and the 7pm curfew would depend on an improvement of the situation.

However, based on current statistics, it is likely these restrictive measures will continue well into next month. The country’s state of emergency is set to end on October 31.

Asked if she would support another full lockdown for New Providence, Dr Forbes said: “There are still a large amount of cases daily and I would say that cases haven’t gone down in this second wave that we’re seeing. As a matter of fact, we heard in the press conference last week that they’ve just gone up slightly in the last two weeks.

“Now that being said, any restrictive measure that is put in place for a virus that transmits like this, you have to consider the incubation period. You won’t see the results until the end of one or possibly two incubation periods when you’re doing your restrictive measures.

“So, you have to usually give things a chance to see if there is an impact and I say that in general when public health experts make recommendations for restrictions and curfews and lockdowns so to speak.

“Now what I will say as it relates to these current measures, this is not a full lockdown per se. This is a partial lockdown so it’s possible, it’s arguable, I think that it is safe to say that partial lockdowns may not be effective. It really depends on what people are doing outside of the curfew and restrictive period – on the weekends and after seven.”

Dr Forbes continued: “There is little to no movement in the street or in places where one can go to gather restaurants, grocery stores, but during the day people are still moving around and so you have to think about that context when you look at measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“A partial lockdown may not be effective. I wouldn’t say that I am fully in support of partial lockdowns. I think if you get to the point where you need to do that or you think you have to give your health system a break. You have to look at the effectiveness of things like that and know that if people are gathering at other times during the day, spread is going to continue.

“I don’t know if the measures will be continued, but you couldn’t really say given the time that passed how impactful it was.”

Dr Forbes said the current circumstances warrant consideration of what has to be done in addition to the current measures in place.

“I will say this and remember when I give you my thoughts on it I can only do that as an infectious diseases consultant, a specialist,” Dr Forbes said when asked if there needed to be a ramp up of restrictive measures.

“If it is that your country is having so much pressure, your health system is under so much pressure, you’re beyond capacity. You’re seeing trends like deaths go up. The hospitalisations go up. You know you’re under siege and cases are going up then you have to think about what do you do in addition to all the regular public health measures you’ve been encouraging. That people should avoid close contact, cover their faces and wash hands, etcetera.

“Sometimes you do have to give your health system a break and sometimes you do have to implement lockdowns.

“Now we’ve heard that that is not supposed to be the first approach, but to be totally honest if things are in such a crisis situation you have to rely on that. You have to look at how you’re going to use it effectively and how you’re going to get the most out of doing such a thing because it’s painful economically and socially.

“I am not a fan of partial lockdowns. I think because they may not be very effective at all and so I think that when we stop and ponder for a minute and say ‘okay is it worth it if it’s not doing what it is intended to do?’

“People need to look at that more and certainly we’ll have other guidelines, but we do need to stop the spread because we see that there is a terrible impact on the health system.”

Princess Margaret Hospital’s bed capacity is being stretched thin amid the health crisis. A 28-bed tent facility has been set up on the compound by Samaritan’s Purse to help alleviate the issue.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Partial lockdowns waste time. Its clear to everyone by now that the Competent Authority has mismanaged this entire situation.

All that's happened over the past 2 months is they've successfully removed even the severely limited possible releases that Bahamian citizens could expect. The ability to just go for a drive on your day off, stop at the beach for a few hours, not have to cook a meal on the weekend. All have been removed. Look to see more instances of domestic abuse in the coming month. On top of this tgey will likely have to impose more restrictive measures after having mentally abused the population for months. They need another COVID related deaths stat this one related to violence from pent up frustrations. It's already happening, uncles, brothers sons, boyfriends abusing sometimes killing their relatives

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ohdrap4 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If the partial lockdowns are not effective, stop them.

Last Friday, I attempted to go to the foodstore at 3pm. I was horrified at the line, I did not even park the car. Covid cluster right there.

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UN 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Easy for some people to be behind full lockdowns (the government just got a loan to ensure their salaries will continue to be paid). Just following the usual/easy script (simply lock ‘em down, we don’t care how that $600 million loan gets repaid). Witnessed the same amnesia when vat was introduced (what debt?)

If masks help, why are cases SPIKING everywhere?

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joeblow 1 month, 2 weeks ago

... cases may be spiking because most people spreading the infection have no symptoms. Remember Simeon Hall went to hospital for one thing and with a routine test was found to be positive. Do you think contact tracing tracked down every person he was in contact with for the previous week?

Secondly, many people do not wear masks properly This means that a person can get infected outside the home and then spread will take place among people who are close to each other and are not wearing masks. For instance how many people do you think wear masks at home with relatives?

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Dr. Forbes is foolishly arguing for total lockdowns for lengthy periods as the means of 'flattening the curve' for an already completely overwhelmed healthcare system. Her position is totally contrary to the now unanimous view of world health organizations that total lockdowns are not effective for countries in instances where Covid-19 has already achieved rampant wide spread community spread. And that's exactly the case for New Providence right now. In fact, the world's leading health organizations now all believe that lengthy lockdowns in such instances likely make matters much worse for such countries by destroying their economies, thereby causing many more poverty related deaths than Covid-19 deaths in the long term.

Dirty face masks are a real problem. People are wearing the same unclean (unsanitized) masks over and over again; they're even constantly re-wearing the cheapest disposable ones that should be thrown away after each use. A repeatedly used dirty face mask is worse for the wearer than no mask at, and creates an added risk for others by greatly increasing the number of infected dirty mask wearers, many of whom are asymptomatic spreaders.

Bahamians can only effectively fight this pandemic by effective public health education that emphasizes doing all of the following on a consistent basis to the full extent possible:

1) Always wear a dry and clean/sanitary face mask - never reuse the same mask for another day unless it has been properly cleaned/sanitized and is dry.

2) Wear your face mask properly - it must cover both your mouth and nose.

3) Keep your distance from others whenever possible, even while wearing a face mask - at least 6 feet - and always avoid large crowds and gatherings.

4) Keep your hands clean and away from your face - use soap and warm water or a suitable sanitizer, e.g. Purell, 90%+ rubbing alcohol solution, etc.

5) Periodically sanitize regularly used counter-tops, kitchen cabinet knobs, door knobs, light switches, etc. - ideally do this once daily or at least ever other day.

6) Get at least half an hour of exercise a day - even just walking helps.

7) Take doctor recommended daily supplements of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc to help boost the effective functioning of your immune system.

8) Where necessary, insist on government support to help you do items 1 through 7 above - if need be, put political pressure on your MP and the entire Minnis-led administration.

Dr. Forbes' time would (and should) be much better spent in effectively educating the government, the public and employers on how to best go about helping our people fight this pandemic in the manner I have outline above.

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

P.S. Most people also don't realize their land line phone receivers, cell phones, TV remotes, computer key boards and the like present a great risk of Covid-19 infection if not sanitized on a regular basis, ideally at least daily.

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Nabarro went on: "The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted.

This is what the WHO said...

Exactly where Nassau is now...

It really doesn't take a scientist to know that Nassau needs to lockdown for a few weeks. But only if we have a reliable test, trace and isolate program in place after the lockdown. That way we can avoid further lockdowns..

But please man get it right. WHO says lockdowns as primary response is what they don't suggest, but lockdowns to curb the spread is something they do suggest for situations like Nassau is in right now...

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Pardon the pun, but who is really listening to anything the WHO has to say these days, especially anything coming out of Nabarro's mouth. If the WHO and Nabarro had not been so corruptly and unethically beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, Covid-19 might well have been contained to a single province in Communist China and not have become a worldwide pandemic.

Months ago the US government stopped listening to the WHO and cut its ties to that Communist China controlled organization. And believe me when I say the Communist Chinese Party does not give a flying hoot about the economic devastation Covid-19 is causing so many countries like The Bahamas. This deadly virus was created in Communist China for a purpose, and the Communist Chinese Party would love nothing more than to be the last country left on our planet with some semblance of an economy. That would fit very nicely into the CCP's global domination objectives at any cost.

The global consensus among reputable and trustworthy pandemic experts is that the cure should not be worse than the problem itself. Many more Bahamians would die from an economy completely destroyed by lengthy and most harsh total lockdowns than will die from the deadly Communist China Virus.

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DWW 1 month, 2 weeks ago

triple, amazing that you stoop to death and illness in an effort to push your political agenda. do you hug your mother with those filthy hands?

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whogothere 1 month, 2 weeks ago

This isn’t rocket science COVID is airborne.. masks do nothing Alas recent cdc study (And a bigillion on the flu) say so (though Cdc are reluctance to admit it). The only large scale Mask usage study in Denmark hasn t seen the light of day (I wonder why lol) WHO advised against masks initially because most of the public don’t know how to use masks properly....Case in point we ve had a mask mandate since May and it’s done nothing... 4000 cases since our mandate came in...cloth masks don t do much and if anything give a false sense of security both for those that are symptomatic and those without...

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DWW 1 month, 2 weeks ago

flat out stupid statements

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Honestman 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Weekend only lock downs are a complete waste of time as are these stupid curbside only rules. All they are doing is making people's lives miserable. The ordinary guy in the street can see that existing restrictions are useless. Why doesn't our supposedly more intelligent government persist with this half backed solution? Look at the rise in the number of infections. Look at the overwhelmed PMH. The current strategy is not working. Yet government continues to talk of opening up to tourists! Opening up to what???

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birdiestrachan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

If it is better to be outdoors than indoors.

Why is doc always closing the beaches? people are being charged for parking and just looking at the water.

it does not get any DUMBER than that.

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Weekend lockdowns are not as effectively full lockdowns but they are effective in reducing the rate of corona transmission. They are like extended social distancing, where they break the chain of person to person contact. And any activity that breaks the person to person contact helps control the virus. And if persons develop symptoms during the period of lockdown they are on some isolation and not moving around spreading the virus. And they can be tested before returning to the community. The weekend lockdowns also aid with the strengthening and regeneration of individual immune systems. Persons who would otherwise be at work or out partying or in some other social activities are now at home in the rest and recuperation mode and their contact veith persons who may have or may have been exposed to the virus is restricted . And one cannot measure the effectiveness of the current weekend lockdowns with the previous full lockdowns . This new strain ( maybe strains) is/are stronger, more contagious and obviously more deadly. Some places that had no curfews or lockdowns or other safety measures are seeing their corona cases increase by 500 percent with corresponding increases in deaths . And they made no preparation for increased hospitalizations and are now facing a crisis. And of course here in this country , notice what is happening on islands like Eleuthera, Bimini and several other islands where full restrictions have been lifted. Imagine what will happen after November 1.. politics and science is political science

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

You've become quite the deliberate purveyor of much misinformation, e.g. most of us know the sky just above the clouds during daytime is blue, but we also know you would happily have us believe that's not true. You really need to get back on your meds. LOL

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Attack and conquer. That Donald Trump BS doesn’t work here. Address the issues dummy, if I am spreading misinformation then point it out. Else keep your head in the clouds where the sky is blue and the clouds are above the sky.

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tribanon 1 month, 2 weeks ago

There you go again with misinformation: The clouds are never above the sky. They may be in it, but are never above it. LOL

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whogothere 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Come John back this s*** up with links Or with facts buddy! Don t just spew without Some sort of evidence...

1.lockdowns short or long have not had impact on transmission rates.note bi weekly change in transmission has been stable: 0% change since middle of July in Bahamas meaning every two almost exactly the same number of people have been infected on average irrespective of lockdowns.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/bi...">https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/bi...

2.there is no evidence that this strain is more stronger, more deadly or more contagious then any others in fact case fatality rates are collapsing around the globe:

https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...">https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...

  1. You Claim places withOut lockdowns are seeing increases in death - completely false: Sweden has had almost no one die of COVID in the last 3 weeks, similarly Belarus and Nicaragua - no locks downs and have decreases in deaths per week.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/we...">https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/we...

I could go on but really you get point...don t make stuff up dude or at least back it up if you can....

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proudloudandfnm 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Man. That last lockdown in GB worked really well... Thank goodness...

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whogothere 1 month, 2 weeks ago

LOL proud my friend we keep having this little chat - GB entered into with 80 cases it now has 600 plus cases - is this your definition of success?

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Reverse everything you just posted and then you have the truth. Running on with dribble does not discredit easily verifiable facts.. For example eRl Paso, Texas has seen their corona cases increase 500%. Florida is now seeing resurgence in their numbers and reintroducing restrictions the recently relaxed. And our own Bahamian islands that had all rights and freedoms restored and now seeing surges in corona cases and some even having first instances or increasing instances of Corona deaths. And if you want to attack snd discredit someone’s post, make sure you correlate your own to ensure you are not contradicting yourself. Case in point : if you disagree that this second wave of corona is not more stronger than the first one then how do you explain the additional hundreds of people here contracting the virus here and the additional hundreds of thousands of people around the world? And in the same vein if lockdowns are not effective, then explain why there are surges in populations that unlock their people after a lockdown, common sense is simple knowledge you know .

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whogothere 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Again John, buddy -

  1. more cases don't correlate to more deaths. Take Florida they they had more cases than New York but way less death. The second wave in the Uk - Way more cases, less death. France same thing, Spain same thing. Everywhere same thing. You're in to Panic porn baby. Cases might go up and down, but death rates are only going down. The virus is not more deadly bud...sorry if dashing your doom and gloom fantasy... Evidence a & b below...

  2. On Lockdowns- now consider Texas since you mention it.. Governor closed restaurant on Jun 25/26th. Cases still tripled till the peak at end of July. No effect until the hot spots burnt out. Cases slowly decreased on their on until in September a spike happened in Sept 12th to 20th - bear in mind there had still not been any additional opening measures yet - same lock down procedures where in place. Again cases died on their own. Current situation cases in Texas are averaging 4500-5000 per day...this is about the same as early august despite opening bar on Oct 7th....you can review in the link in evidence c.. It's same deal/trend most other states...Lockdowns happen but cases go up irrespective and on their own collapse...

3.In our little islands we've had same experience grand Bahama locked with 80 cases end of July but now has over 600 cases. Nassau locked down for 2 weeks in early august - zero effect on the amount of cases detected. You can refer to the links in my intial trashing of your post if you'd like ;)

  1. Where is Florida's resurgence bud? Last I checked (2 mins ago) they were hitting 4000 cases a day same as the beginning of august - a far try from that 12k per day in July. 4 weeks after opening up. (Evidence d)

By all means do present some evidence of your opinion but based on the facts you're living on a different planet or just don't know how to read a chart...It's ok it happens a lot...

evidence a: increases in cases - yes. - up:

https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...">https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...

Evidence b: decrease in death.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...">https://ourworldindata.org/coronaviru...

Evidence C: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/stat...">https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/stat...

Evidence d:https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/stat...">https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/stat...

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TalRussell 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Surprised the good Comrade Sister Dr. Nikkiah's edging towards opposing partial lockdowns and restrictions as tools in stopping the spread of the deadly virus. Shakehead once for Yeah most POAL would beg to disagree with the sister's stance, Twice for Not?

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Some are now claiming Corona and corona related deaths in the US are being grossly understated. The claim is that if one was to subtract the Corona deaths from this year’s total deaths, then compare the remaining total to last year’s over the same period, this year’s numbers exceed last year’s figures by 30 percent. What has caused an additional 30 percent increase in deaths in additional to Corona deaths over barely. Nine month period. Is it likewise in The Bahamas?

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bogart 1 month, 2 weeks ago

@tribanon, always have to admire your dogged persistance in your quest. Adding to your list should be the changing of the photo graphic of a blue mask at top of these Coviid 19 stories. The blue mask with the words intentionally written "Covid-19" and parallel to the metal strip would seem to be upside down if the mask is worn. The shiny metal strip should bbe at top of wearer's face so that wearer presses the metat strip over their nose to have the mask materiel close to the skin to close any gaps of air and mask not snug and tight.

Trib., On your point 1) you realize that these blue masks and similar onesare disposable and regretably authorities should be giving away sewing machines and bolts of suitable fabric for eaach constituency to be sewing them as it seems Covid seems to be long time. Instead of authorities buying endless foreign disposable masks, it would be more feasible to sew local masks here that each person can have several more permanent ones to wash and wear.

On the 2) point you obviously are on top of the local news looking at people having the masks keep slipping off their noses, its funny and what they can do is twist the elastic strap each side to x shape and then put elastic around their ears, a little more tension to have mask stay in place.

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

The world is presently up-side-down. Then there are the new masks that comes with the err pieces and microphone and can be wireless or plug into your phone. Also comes with a 30 day supply of filters.

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John 1 month, 2 weeks ago

So why are all the banks and stores taking temperature checks of patrons entering their establishments when less than 30 percent of persons with Corona present veith a fever? And the number is even less 20% less amongst Blacks !

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whogothere 1 month, 2 weeks ago

And up to 70% have no symptoms at all!! Oh dear where is this worsening deadly virus you were talking about earlier John...?

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