By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
WITH 18 new deaths reported over the weekend pushing the nation’s COVID-19 death toll to 626, former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis castigated the government saying its response to the virus has been “disastrous”.
Data released by the Ministry of Health on Friday included 14 new deaths, which were contained in the October 13 dashboard.
Nine of the victims were from New Providence, two from Long Island, two from Inagua and one from Grand Bahama.
Their ages range from 26 to 92-years-old and they died between October 2 and 8.
In the October 14 dashboard, also released on Friday, 10 deaths were reported. However, those deaths were later clarified as being under investigation with an official saying they had been listed in error and should not have been released.
In the October 15 dashboard, four more deaths were recorded, bringing the death toll to 626.
The patients were all from New Providence and included one man and three women.
The man, 38, died on September 8. One of the women, 56, died on October 1; a 58-year-old woman died October 2 and an 88-year-old woman died October 4.
The situation drew criticism from Dr Minnis on Sunday.
He said since coming to office, the new Progressive Liberal Party administration has led a disastrous, incompetent and chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The response is also uncaring and indifferent to the pain and suffering of those who are getting sick and their families,” Dr Minnis said in a press statement.
“As he did in opposition, Prime Minister Philip Davis clearly does not have an understanding of, nor a plan as to how to respond to, the deadly virus, as more Bahamians are dying daily from the virus.
“With mounting deaths, outbreaks on various islands and the Bahamian public frightened that the number of cases may increase in the near future, the government has failed to articulate and execute comprehensive public health measures.
“The PLP promised that it had a plan and a way forward on the pandemic. Tragically, there is no plan as promised. They do not have a way forward. One of their first decisions was to relax the curfew. They promised free mass testing. What are the plans for such testing?”
Dr Minnis said there are reports of rising case numbers and deaths on a number of Family Islands, which have limited capacity to deal with severe cases.
“Because of limited oxygen supplies, no ventilators and no intensive care units on our islands, except New Providence and Grand Bahama, it is critical to stop the spread of the virus as quickly as possible on the Family Islands,” the Killarney MP said.
“The former government sought to balance saving and protecting lives and livelihoods. The FNM quickly put in place comprehensive measures to limit outbreaks on the Family Islands. We also regularly reported to the country through national addresses, press conferences and press statements.
“What is the current government’s strategy to deal with outbreaks throughout the Family Islands? What is the capacity for airlift if the number of severe cases increase significantly throughout the Family Islands?
“Is the government considering any measures or restrictions to address the increasing number of deaths in the country?
“Why has the prime minister failed to address the country on the measures his administration will take to remedy a variety of matters related to the pandemic?”
Dr Minnis said the PLP severely criticised his administration’s response to the pandemic. He said it is now the responsibility of the Davis administration to manage and respond to the pandemic in order to save and protect the lives of the Bahamian people.
Dr Minnis said the country awaits the government’s strategy and plans on the management of the pandemic in the days and weeks ahead.
The country has now recorded 21,978 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date.
One hundred and thirteen people are in hospital, 12 of whom are in the intensive care unit. Fifty-nine deaths are currently under investigation.