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‘Case Decline Doesn’T Signal We Can Relax’

photo

Dr Nikkiah Forbes

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE a notable decrease in COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions over the last several weeks, health officials still believe the country has not defeated the third wave of the virus.

This is according to Dr Nikkiah Forbes, the country’s top infectious disease expert, who warned Bahamians shouldn’t let their guards down anytime soon as the country’s fight with the virus is still not over.

She spoke after the country recorded 30 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 15 cases confirmed on Thursday. Eleven new cases were recorded on Saturday.

The latest figures have pushed the nation’s overall tally to 22,407 and the total case count for October to 1,209.

 The numbers confirmed for October are still considerably lower when compared with September, which saw 2,738 infections reported. In August, more than 3,500 COVID-19 cases were recorded.

 Yesterday, Dr Forbes cautioned that while overall virus cases and hospitalisations are trending downward, the country is still not out of the woods yet.

 She said: “The cases are going down and hospitalisations are also decreasing and the percentage of total positives are also decreasing. At last report, that was 15 percent of total tests. So, when we look at the epidemic curve, what is clear is that the cases are trending down. There’s a definition for when you’re at the end of the wave or the wave is ended and that’s when you have a sustained decrease to a very low level that goes on over a sustained period of time so what we can say is cases are trending down and hospitalisations are also trending down as the positive percentages are reducing, but we are not at the end of the third wave yet.”

 According to health officials, 643 people have died from the disease since the start of the pandemic, 38 of whom died in October. Yesterday officials said seven additional deaths are under investigation, bringing the number in this category to 67.

 At last report, 58 people were in hospital with COVID-19, a situation Dr Forbes described yesterday as a significant improvement.

 She said the drop in hospital numbers has also lessened the strain on public health.

“There is a definite improvement as it relates to hospital numbers so when we were in the middle of the surge for example, at Princess Margaret alone, we had more than 100 patients that had COVID and that number is almost half that amount so there is a definite improvement,” Dr Forbes said yesterday.

 As for what contributed towards the drop in infection, Dr Forbes said there could be several factors, one of which includes the nation’s climbing vaccination rate.

 “So, when we look at the entire epidemic curve, there was a surge that happened just at the end of August and September and we are now past that period so there are a number of things that are contributing to it,” she said.

 “So, even in summer months there are a number of holidays that happened relatively closely together between May and I would say August and there was also an uptick in travel associated with those periods and that may be associated with that surge that we had. Additionally, The Bahamas had reached the point where I believe 32 percent of the population had been vaccinated and the vaccination programme is gaining traction and that is certainly helping.”

 Even with the positive vaccination trend, Dr Forbes warned there will be periods of high and low COVID transmission “depending on certain factors like behaviour, climate in some places and emerging variants.”

 This, she added, is why it’s important for Bahamians to remain on guard and continue following the recommended public health guidelines.

 “We have to do those things because there are reports of persons who, for example, have not followed the protocols and regardless of vaccination, there can still be clusters and transmission,” Dr Forbes said. “So, if we do want cases to be manageable, we have to socially adapt and combine mask wearing with vaccination. It’s a two-part strategy to keep cases low so it’s absolutely necessary.”

 This comes as the government is preparing to end the current COVID-19 emergency orders and transition the country into a “new normal.”

 Asked which restrictions she recommends the government maintains once new legislation is enacted, Dr Forbes said the matter is for policymakers to decide.

 However, she advised that many of the restrictions can be eliminated once Bahamians adhere to current public health measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.

 “When you look at the epidemic curve, when you look at some measures that have been put in place, it did reduce cases and you can see the effect of that on the epidemic curve,” she said. “However, there would be other things that would be impacted by it and of course there is some sense of COVID pessimism because people want their life to go back to how it was before and they don’t want any kind of restrictions but we do know that with some restrictions, even an earlier curfew, it did reduce the number of cases.

 “Now, do you need that in place? No, you don’t. You just need a population that is going to follow the social distancing, mask wearing and stay home if sick. However, the problem is there is a variable degree of adherence to those things. Not everyone does it and if everybody doesn’t do (it), that’s all you need for COVID to rise and spread and so that’s where the policies come in.”

Comments

Emilio26 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I think PM Davis should do what President Biden did by mandating vaccines for all civil service workers and also make the vaccine mandatory for bahamians and residents that want to attend big events like concerts and festivals.

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ohdrap4 2 months, 2 weeks ago

They cannot mandate that civik servants do their daily job, much less get vaccinated.

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ted4bz 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Who was pushing them to make up the numbers? Who is preventing them from making up numbers? Amazing how they can play this illusionary game either way when they want how they want and 99% of the public goes along with it, either way!

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whogothere 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hahaha desperation to stay relevant...How will the medical profession ever return to the wings when they've tasted the power of being at the centre of attention for so long? The seasonal swings of COVID will happen with or without mandates, masks, social distancing, vaccines and school closures...it's all theatre..

Look at Iceland again - cases trending upwards inspire of huge vaccination rates . Look Florida cases collapsing currently at the lowest level per capita in all the US in spite the complete lack of restrictions...Look at restriction laden California starting to trend upwards on cue....

This is (and always has been) beyond the medical political community's capacity to control...let it go...hopefully come November 13th we will..

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The only mandate that really works is complete lockdown. It ensures that there's no community spread. Anything else is just optics. Under all other mandates the virus cycle lives on for however long it takes to infect who its going to infect. For us it looks like about 4 months. Curfews are useless.

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whogothere 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Lockdown is pointless because it's unsustainable. And the economic and social costs is possibly worse than the immediate health risk. You're robbing Peter to pay Paul. Case and point New Zealand and Australia. Locked down only to have cancer and other non-covid ailments flair up instead and still have to contend with tremendous caseloads eventually on opening...inspite of vaccination...pointless..in other words - no - I would not agree it 'works', but agree with you on everything else.. ;)

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ohdrap4 2 months, 2 weeks ago

WHAT IS DISGUSTING IS THAT THE IDEA OF LOCKDOWN WAS BY A 14 YEAR OLD STUDENT WHOSE DOCTOR FATHER PUBLISHED A MEDICAL PAPER WITH HER AS SECOND AUTHOR.

SHE POSITED THAT CLOSING SCHOOLS DOWN FOR 14 DAYS WOULD SLOW SPREAD OF THE FLU.

COVID DID NOT EXIST THEN.

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I completely agree.

I wasnt advocating for lockdowns. I was saying they work for the stated objective "slow the spread down buy some time", thats it.

I said consistently that Minnis "misused" the lockdowns. He kept them too long and didn't plan anything, inevitably opening up to chaos and mass deaths.

Curfews on the other hand absolutely do not work. They are a PR tool to make it "appear" that something is being done. Even in the face of zero strategies, the virus will eventually die a natural death... unfortunately people will die too.. as we witnessed 500 people die in the last 3-4 months.

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