By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Social Services has reinstated several safety measures at all senior citizens homes across the country after six seniors and four staff members at one eldercare home recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell made the revelation while speaking to reporters ahead of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, where he also noted that one of the positive patients died in hospital with the virus.
“There’s a matter in one of our senior citizens homes that resulted in six seniors being infected with COVID, four staff members. One of the seniors who was hospitalized has passed,” Mr Campbell said before going to Cabinet.
“In any and every incident where life is lost, we express our condolences to the family members. We express our regret and we pray that the souls of the departed will rest in peace.”
Mr Campbell could not definitely say which care home facility housed the positive cases, only telling reporters, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s Naomi Christie, but I could be wrong.”
However, he said yesterday was their last official day under quarantine.
He also said to further protect residents and seniors receiving care in their homes, officials have decided to reimpose several restrictive measures that were previously relaxed.
“At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the necessary protocols were put in place. At the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, all of our seniors in our homes and our staff were offered the vaccine. All of our senior and staff exercised their rights, some accepted and some didn’t.
“We have reinstated one or two of the restrictions that would’ve been relaxed,” he added.
“For example, some persons were allowed to leave to go to church and come back. As a result of what transpired, we have reinstated that particular restriction, but we continue to comply with all of the COVID protocols.”
As it relates to visitations, Mr Campbell said relatives are still allowed to bring in items and gifts for their loved ones, but noted that social interaction will not be permitted.
“Persons who have family members are allowed to bring items but there is no co-mingling or that kind of stuff,” he told reporters.
Asked how affected persons had contracted the virus, the minister said only health officials will be able provide those details.
However, Mr Campbell said as it stands now, all care homes under his ministry’s portfolio are considered COVID-free.
“I’m not involved in the contact tracing part of it. I think the health professionals will better be able to assist you with that,” he said.
“We have isolated the persons and I’m pleased to say that based on the quarantine time given by the medical professionals, it ends today (Tuesday) and my report this morning is that all of our homes to day as I stand before you are COVID-free.”
It is not clear if the positives cases were vaccinated against COVID-19 as staff and residents of eldercare homes were among the first priority group eligible to receive the doses.
Yesterday, Mr Campbell said while the vaccinations have been offered to all in the respective group, not everyone has chosen to take it.
“I’m not equipped with those details,” he said when asked if the positive cases had been vaccinated. “I’m satisfied to say that without fear of honest contradiction that the vaccine was available to all. All exercised their rights. You know the government’s position is that vaccines are not mandatory and so it’s by virtue of choice and so all persons exercised their choice. Some took the vaccine, some didn’t.”
Total COVID cases in the country rose to 10,933 on Monday after twenty-five new cases were recorded: twenty-three in New Providence, one in Grand Bahama and one in Exuma.
Of the total figure, 755 of those cases are still active.
Meanwhile, 55 people are said to be sick in hospital with the virus. As for virus related deaths, 214 deaths have been confirmed by health officials.