By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE Ministry of Health confirmed 20 additional COVID-19 deaths on the weekend, bringing the total to 557 to date.
The spike in deaths comes as COVID-19 hospitalisations declined and as the Bahamas reached a new vaccination milestone, with 104,380 people now fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.
Yesterday, infectious disease expert Dr Nikkiah Forbes cautioned that despite declining numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the positive vaccination trend, it is too early to say the country is nearing the end of the third wave.
Sixty-seven new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Friday and 46 were recorded on Saturday, pushing the confirmed coronavirus case count to 21,312.
“In the last few weeks the number of cases reported is declining,” Dr Forbes said yesterday. “However, what I will tell you is that the testing has declined. When we look at the health data we look at several indicators. Test taking behaviours affect a number of positive cases and there are biases and things that will affect test taking. A holiday weekend would. If there is very big activity, test taking behaviour may change. In those weeks where the numbers were declining, testing went down. So that’s why it’s important to look at other variables, deaths, hospitalisations and the percent testing positive for the virus.
“The percent testing positive is still on an upward trend and still much higher than where we need it to be. We want it to be under five percent. When you have a high test positivity of upward of 20 percent that is informative and means there is still a lot of COVID-19 out there. “What is positive is when hospitalisation starts to go down, when that trend continues to bear out, that’s an indicator that things are improving.
“We have to keep an eye on the epidemic curve. At the very end of last week there was a very small increase; it’s still too early to say the wave is being flattened or is behind us,” she said.
Dr Forbes said data collected at Princess Margaret Hospital continues to show that the vast majority of people being admitted or dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated.
She said as of the end of September, 95 percent of COVID-19 deaths were unvaccinated people, about four percent were partially vaccinated and one percent - about four people - were fully vaccinated.
The fully vaccinated deaths include people who are severely immunocompromised, she said.
The deaths confirmed on Friday include a 72-year-old male Abaco resident who died on October 14, 2020; a 74-year-old Bimini man who died on March 30, 2021; a 44-year-old Abaco man who died on May 16; a 49- year-old Bimini man who died on July 21; a 50-year-old Andros woman who died August 1; a 57-year-old Andros man who died on August 17; a 62-year-old Abaco man who died on August 19; and an 87-year-old Exuma man who died on August 20.
The other deaths include a 74-year-old Exuma man who died on August 20; a 52-year-old Abaco woman who died on August 25; a 63-year-old Exuma man who died on August 31; a 79-year-old Eleuthera woman who died on September 16; an 80-year-old New Providence man who died on September 16; a 42-year-old Eleuthera woman who died on September 16; a 96-year-old Andros man who died on September 20; a 36-year-old New Providence man who died on September 28th; a 59-year-old New Providence woman who died on September 30; and a 70-year-old Eleuthera woman who died on September 30.
The deaths recorded on Saturday include an 80-year-old New Providence woman and an 85-year-old Cat Island man, both of whom died on September 16.
Health officials said 66 deaths are currently under investigation, with 33 deaths recently added to this category.
Ed Fields, co-chair of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee, highlighted the rising vaccination numbers yesterday.
“From the 100 dose per day sites in the Family Islands to the 900+ dose per day super site in Grand Bahama…every dose counts,” he said.
“Our efforts are paying dividends. This achievement did not come easy but together we made it happen. There is still quite a bit of road ahead of us but my request of you today is to please take a moment and enjoy this milestone.”
As of October 2, 127 people were in hospital with the disease, a decrease of 12 percent from the day before.