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Editorial: Mixed Messaging Over Virus Fight

TO say that there are mixed messages over the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas would be an understatement.

In recent days, officials have expressed hope of finding a way of avoiding the pain of the quarantine to be introduced for all travellers to the United States.

We also reported recently on how The Bahamas is one of just 27 countries that have tamed the COVID-19 pandemic according to more than 4,000 scientists and community organisers worldwide.

In mid-January, it was reported that the Christmas holiday celebrations had not seen an uptick of cases of COVID-19 as officials had initially expected.

And yet, yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said it appeared that Bahamians had let their guards down in the battle against COVID-19.

He said this as emergency orders were once again extended – and it seems contradictory to be appealing to the US over how safe it would be to allow arrivals from The Bahamas to bypass quarantine protocols while extending the emergency orders for months and having the Prime Minister warn that people are letting their guard down against the virus.

Which is it? Are we safer than we were or on a downward slide?

The Prime Minister took the opportunity to speak out against funerals and Junkanoo parades that have broken protocols – though there have been a number of cases of gatherings that broke the rules over the months, from weddings to funerals and other gatherings. After one wedding highlighted in this newspaper, the attendees were visited by the police and issued tickets. The solution is right there – break the rules, pay the price. If people know they won’t get away with hosting an event that breaks the rules, they’ll think twice. If they think all they’ll get is a tut tut and we must do better, then plenty will go right ahead, ignoring the real consequences of how many people will go home afterwards with an unwanted guest, the virus that has found a new host and will continue to spread.

In today’s Tribune, we report on Atlantis bringing back furloughs for staff in the face of the US quarantine order. Every person that attends one of these events and might prompt the spread of the virus further keeps those doors closed longer. A party for a day might mean someone else out of a job for life. Or worse, lose their life.

That said, the government needs to be clearer with its message. People need to know the path we are on. Those who break the rules need to be dealt with accordingly, certainly, but we also need to know the level of risk we are really facing.

Dr Minnis might say that the extension of the emergency powers doesn’t mean that the powers will actually be used, just that it gives the government the ability to do so if needed – but they have been used every time they’ve been extended so far and while there’s talk of a “light at the end”, that end seems very distant right now.

It seems impossible to make an appeal to the US while telling our own citizens things are too dangerous to lift the restrictions right now – yet that’s where we are.

Where do we go from here? Well, it depends which story of how well we are doing we are to believe.

A vital jab

Talk continues to circulate about the COVID-19 vaccine being a personal choice – and while there absolutely is a discussion to be had about personal liberty, what we’re missing is the other half of the conversation.

The vaccine will only be effective if it has a high take-up rate. Back in December, Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the top experts in the world and an advisor to both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, talked of a need for around 70 to 75 percent to gain herd immunity. What’s herd immunity? That’s the number of people with immunity that ensures the virus can’t get a grip on a population. Think of it this way. If one person has the virus, and only half of those around them are vaccinated, the virus has a 50-50 chance of jumping to someone who can become infected. The higher the number who are vaccinated, the smaller the chance the virus has of jumping – and each time that number becomes smaller, it makes it more likely the virus peters out.

With polio, that threshold is about 80 percent. Those are the numbers – or even higher – of the population of The Bahamas that we need to be vaccinated to squash this virus. That includes everyone – Bahamians, legal migrants, illegal migrants. The virus doesn’t stop to check your passport.

So while there is talk of the vaccine being voluntary, we really need to talk about how essential it is for people to take a safe, tested vaccine.

Without a vaccine, it means... no travel, no tourism, businesses shutting down, no jobs, an economic crash, and a future that never gets better.

So take the jab, and don’t listen to the social media doubters. Listen to the scientists. They’re the experts, we should trust them.

Comments

The_Oracle 1 month ago

While reported that we have "tamed" the virus, we are still at Level 4 of the U.S. ranking. (highest) Also, the U.S. has only imposed the same criteria on us that we imposed on them. Not saying it is a tit for tat but it seems we want better treatment than we impose. As to trusting experts, I think a trust but verify policy is prudent, with time providing the verification. Is vaccination side effect information being suppressed? We know that political view points are. We know Politicians/Governments cannot be trusted, and they are driving the vaccination bus.

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M0J0 1 month ago

thing that's confusing to all is they keep saying Bahamians first but if Bahamians were first the emergency orders would be allowed to expire and if things get out of hand same way over night the passed emergency orders they could again. If we are going to get the hotels open and at least more places open to provide jobs that are desperately needed, the emergency orders must come to an end. These orders are doing more harm and killing than the actual virus.

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tribanon 1 month ago

All poppycock. The word has been out for many months now among the more honourable and reputable scientific community that there's no running away from, hiding or otherwise escaping the Red China Virus and its rapidly evolving mutations. There is now general agreement that not even the costly vaccines, which have been so quickly developed by the greedy big pharma companies and mostly paid for by taxpayers around the world, will prove effective at stopping the rapidly mutating strains of the original virus the end of the day. And just think, the rapidly mutating Red China Virus was very deliberately engineered by the sinister Communist Chinese Party with the help of their friends like Fauci and Gates, who have been deeply involved in promoting the most evil kinds of virology research for decades. It's all about demented and very evil global deep state actors wanting to create biological tools for controlling the numbers of elderly and sickly in the global population as well as the mobility and other freedoms of the vast majority of mankind. This all suits 'their' agenda of global domination.

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birdiestrachan 1 month ago

We should have our COVID 19 rules and restrictions in place and correct. way before there is any shouting from mountain tops. telling other countries what they should do.

Some of the Bahamas restrictions made sense. but the majority made no sense. They were no more than a dictator in place.. power in the hands of the competent authority that was not thought out carefully.

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bahamianson 1 month ago

no mixed message..... there is a set of rules for the wealthy and connected and another for the less fortunate and the plebeians. No mixed message. It is our culture.

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