By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
OFFICIAL Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis charged yesterday that the country has become a case study of how not to manage a public health crisis.
Speaking in the House of Assembly, Mr Davis said failure had become the hallmark of the government’s fight against COVID-19.
He called on the government to make public supporting data to justify restrictions it has put in place.
“Have we progressed when in July we had 104 cases, and the latest dashboard has 6,400 plus cases? Is that progress? The same dashboard of July 1, 2020, speaks to us having 11 deaths. We now have 132 deaths from the first of July to date with 26 of those deaths still not classified,’ Mr Davis told Parliament during debate on a resolution to extend emergency powers orders.
The opposition has said it would not support the move. The Minnis administration wants to extend restrictions until November 30.
Mr Davis told the House: “These emergency orders represent a suspension of some of our most fundamental rights. We can only guess whom the competent authority consults, if he consults anyone and for that matter, we would want to understand the advice and or the data that he relies upon to justify, for example, a 7pm curfew as opposed to a 10pm curfew?
“So, I say where is the data therefore that informs the advice and justifies the 7pm curfew as opposed to a 10pm curfew? Where is the data or the proof that confirmed weekend lockdowns are effective and that the benefits outweigh the harms? Where is it? Lay that down.
“Where is the scientific evidence that supports closing beaches to Bahamians, when the virus is mainly transmitted inside, not outside, when people are increasingly crowded into homes, when everyone is pushed to their limit and needs a break?
“These matters ought to be debated in Parliament. Let the man who is making these decisions attempt to justify them before the people and their representatives,” he continued. “Notice that the same man, he chooses national addresses instead of press conferences. He wants it his way, even if his way is failing.”
Mr Davis’ speech prompted some majority members to call for points of order and others heckled him as he continued to deliver the remarks.
Among these were Golden Gates MP Michael Foulkes and West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Pakesia Parker-Edgcombe.
Both MPs at several separate times accused Mr Davis of misleading Parliament.
Despite this, Mr Davis maintained the government has failed to arrest the pandemic.
“The tragedy is that our country has become a case study for how not to manage a public health crisis. We continue to rank at the bottom of countries globally when it comes to our country’s response to COVID.
“In July, our borders were opened without the resources in place to stop any new cases of the virus from proliferating. And thus a few cases turned into more than 6,000 and counting. This was not inevitable. It did not have to be this bad. This is what government failure looks like. The government has become expert at pointing to other countries that are also failing to contain the virus. Yet there are many countries, including many developing nations, who are succeeding.
“A strong leader would look to the successful nations, not the failing ones, and be determined to make sure our country was among them.
“Seven months in, he is asking for the continued ability to suspend the constitutional rights of the Bahamian people, even though he has no plan to contain COVID. Lockdowns are not a plan. Lockdowns are evidence of an ongoing failure to find and isolate the virus to stop the virus from transmitting.”
Mr Davis said it is agonising to see other countries protect their citizens, while the virus spreads in the Bahamas where people are under siege.
“Our healthcare system is near collapse. Our doctors and nurses are exhausted and need reinforcements.
“More than seven months into this crisis, the government still has not set up adequate protocols to keep non-COVID patients at PMH safe from the virus.”
He said in the meantime, The Bahamas is behind countries like Jamaica and Trinidad in securing therapeutic medicines for COVID patients.
Without a plan to stop COVID, the Progressive Liberal Party leader said, there can be no real economic recovery. He said nations will continue to warn their citizens to stay away and local businesses will continue to buckle under the pressure.
Bahamians need a government that supports them, instead of blaming and punishing them, he said.