Health and Wellness Minister Dr Michael Darville. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune staff
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
WITH the country’s state of emergency now over— bringing an end to curfews and lockdowns—Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville said officials are expecting Bahamians to be disciplined during this new period.
New health regulations have been introduced to allow the Ministry of Health and Wellness to guide the nation during the pandemic after the cessation of emergency orders. The state of emergency and associated emergency orders came to an end at 12am on Saturday.
Some have questioned if the government will be minded to reintroduce curfews at some point.
Asked about the matter at a press conference on Friday, Dr Darville said: “We understand the science. We understand what curfews mean. We’re not convinced that curfews (are) a true reflection of the science and of the reduction of the community spread.
“It has a place because when you have a curfew you actually can limit the movement of an individual at a particular time. What we’re saying is that we’re expecting Bahamians to be disciplined. We need to move forward.”
There is some concern that COVID-19 cases will spike with the state of emergency and emergency orders now over.
However, the minister expressed confidence in the steps being taken so far.
“As it stands right now, our numbers are going down and we actually changed the curfew hours (in September) and so I want to speak on what is in place now. As a government, we have the opportunity to use a lot of different techniques and tools if the pandemic gets in a particular position. That’s why we have an advisory committee. The advisory committee with our technical support team will guide us on whatever we need to do to protect lives, families and prevent person-to-person spread,” he said.
He said the government is focused on managing the pandemic through legislation—not a state of emergency.
“... I’m confident we’ve come this far as a result of instituting quite a bit of new policies and testing it and we feel confident that as we stand now with curfew being rolled back a few hours when we got back (in office) and the numbers are going down. It is obvious that Bahamians are executing the necessary public health protocols and I feel confident that with the grace of God we’ll continue (on) this trajectory….”
He said the government has metrics and guidelines from other countries and the Pan American Health Organization to follow if case numbers increase.
“We have metrics and we have guidelines that have come our way from different countries and through PAHO and WHO and things that we need to do when we see numbers going up, things that we can do when we see the numbers going down.
“So there is a lot of literature out there and our technical team, our responsibility is to review.”
He highlighted the difficulty of managing cases in Family Islands and the logistics needed to move those individuals to the capital for advanced healthcare. The clinics are being looked at and there are resources now being put in place to be able to upgrade clinics as well as have isolation facilities on those islands.
“When you look at our steering committee or our consultative committee you’ll see people from all walks of life. We’re contemplating adding a legal person on board and some other individuals…
“….We are preparing. We have metrics…COVID is brand new. We listen to what the Harvard (group) may say or other (groups) and we try to implement the best tools possible to manage the pandemic in our setting.”
As for tertiary healthcare resources, Dr Darville explained: “We have resources at our tertiary healthcare facilities. Maybe not adequate. My job is to find additional resources and bed space. I’m looking at that.
“Unfortunately, brick and mortar, that takes a while. So that’s not a short-term thing for me. I have to find access to additional field hospitals or the possibility for us to be able to do something very quickly as other countries in the Caribbean has done and so I’m looking.”