Minister of Health Renward Wells.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Renward Wells says while his ministry considers all recommendations made by medical experts to help strengthen the country’s fight against the COVID-19, it will only follow those that are “salient” and “valuable”.
He was responding to questions from The Tribune yesterday concerning former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands’ recommendations that the government adjust its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Sands has suggested the government move away from RT-PCR tests as the gold standard to detect COVID-19 infection and instead embrace “newer technology”.
While voicing his opposition to the extension of the country’s state of emergency and emergency order protocols last month, the Elizabeth Estates MP recommended the government utilise RT-LAMP testing, which he says is cheaper to operate.
He also said it makes no sense to require PCR tests for domestic travel and further suggested the Minnis administration remove the barrier on surgical mask imports for the public.
He added there should be a government mandate requiring two-layer cloth masks to be worn instead of one to reduce spread of the virus.
Asked to respond to Dr Sands’ recommendations yesterday, Mr Wells said his ministry will look at the suggestions as it does for everyone else.
He said: “ If the (former) health minister has made recommendations, then the health team and the ministry would take a look at those as we take a look at all recommendations sent forward to the ministry technical team as to how we deal with COVID.
“The doctors union sends forth recommendations, the nurses union sends forth recommendations, private doctors sends forth recommendations to help, all of those are taken into consideration by health’s technical team. And if the recommendations are salient, valuable and valued in our fight they will be incorporated.”
This is not the first time the former health minister has made recommendations to the Minnis led administration.
In December, Dr Sands said The Bahamas should conduct its own independent investigations into new COVID vaccines before widely distributing them to the public.
However, Mr Wells dismissed the recommendation, stressing that whichever COVID-19 vaccine the government chooses to implement will be a safe and effective one.
The country is expected to receive up to 100,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine beginning the second half of this month through the second quarter of 2021.
The National COVID-19 Consultative Committee will hold a press conference today at 5pm, providing details on the national vaccine distribution plan.
Meanwhile, as it relates to the possible use of RT-LAMP tests in The Bahamas, Mr Wells told The Tribune last month that the government will not make a move on approving any form of additional COVID-19 testing unless first receiving the nod from the World Health Organisation.
Oxford University’s RT-LAMP Technology and CommonPass COVID eApp, which has quick test results loaded to a person’s cell phone within minutes of taking, is becoming more popular for use in airports and airlines around the world.
This test was presented to the government for approval to be used in Bahamian airports, however, it has not been given the green light, The Tribune reported previously.
“In general, the government of The Bahamas doesn’t move forward with any form of testing technology, kits or platform that has not been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Ministry of Health is a very conservative body and the Bahamian people need to understand that,” Mr Wells had said previously.