TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
TOURISM Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar made a plea to businesses yesterday, urging them to follow COVID-19 restrictions and prevent large gatherings amid the country’s third wave of the virus.
“I am deeply concerned by the rising numbers,” he said yesterday.
“Persons have to take the necessary steps to prevent community spread. Businesses must ensure that large groups do not congregate and that parties at their places of business are appropriately distanced.”
The Bahamas recorded 103 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday and Saturday: 74 were in Friday’s COVID-19 report and 24 were in Saturday’s report. Eighty of the newly confirmed cases were in New Providence.
In Saturday’s data, the Ministry of Health also highlighted 86 cases that were not previously reported. It is not clear when the samples in those cases were collected. Those previously undisclosed cases include 32 in New Providence and 54 in Grand Bahama.
Three new deaths have also been reported: a 55-year-old New Providence man who died on April 17; a 37-year-old New Providence woman who died on April 21 and a 91-year-old Grand Bahama man who died on April 20. These cases pushed the COVID-19 death count to 197 while 31 deaths remain under investigation, including two that were reported on Saturday.
Forty-nine people remain hospitalised with COVID-19, including four who are being treated in the intensive care unit at Doctors Hospital.
The sustained increase in cases comes as evidence suggests a variant of concern is in The Bahamas.
Health officials are still awaiting lab results to confirm this and to identify the particular variant. An official yesterday said the results could be in as early as this week.
During a press conference last week, National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee Chairperson Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis said “the emergence of variant strains of COVID-19 is of significant concern.”
“New strains have been identified from the UK, Brazil and South Africa, and more recently, from India. These variants spread more easily and are infecting younger age groups,” she said.
“The cases may be more severe and some countries are reporting more deaths.”
Dr Dahl Regis said genetic testing between March 13 and April 17 showed an upward trend in the detection of deletion in samples, which means there are likely variant strains in the country.
She said a breakdown by islands shows New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Long Island, Exuma and Eleuthera could have variant strains present.
The country now has 10,165 confirmed coronavirus cases, of which 594 are active.