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‘Roll back restrictions gradually’, expert advises

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Dr Nikkiah Forbes

By PAVEL BAILEY

A LOCAL infectious disease expert says that while COVID-19 cases are low, public health measures should be rolled back gradually to ensure people’s safety.

Dr Nikkiah Forbes, the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme director, told The Tribune that while The Bahamas has achieved a low rate of weekly infections in recent weeks, it still must exercise caution when it comes to the rollback of public health restrictions.

According to the Ministry of Health, only five new cases were recorded on Tuesday and five people are in hospital with the virus.

In March, the government announced loosened mask requirements for those in hotels or outdoors and adjusted protocols for social gatherings, allowing larger events to take place.

This month, churches and places of religious worship were allowed to have services will full occupancy.

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said he anticipates over the next several weeks that there will be a consistent reduction of the COVID protocols.

Yesterday, Dr Forbes said once people continue to follow the measures which remain in place, public health should still be protected.

“It’s important to note that overall if cases are fairly low, and they are, that the public health measures that are in place will be very effective to reduce spread. And that is mask wearing, everyone has to do it, you want to keep your distance, social distance six ft, hand hygiene, stay home if you’re sick, if you’re having symptoms definitely stay at home. And generally, try to reduce crowds that will still be very effective.”

Dr Forbes said that while a further easing of restrictions is necessary it needs to be done slowly to safely maintain public health.

“Two years into COVID we have to learn how to live with COVID-19. And so that’s the backdrop for ‘what about restrictions?’ They do have to be rolled back and we do have to learn to live with COVID. And when we think about removing restrictions, we have to do it in the safest possible way as it relates to public health,” Dr Forbes said.

In addition to noting that a measured scaling back of restrictions is important, Dr Forbes said festivals should be allowed to return as long as cases remain low.

“And so, a measured prudent approach is important. And so, in the context of festivals, they should be allowed to return if cases are low and it is safe to have them. However, one has to balance it and you also have to balance your risk for COVID-19.”

Still she cautioned against removing restrictions too quickly. She acknowledged that some cities in America have removed public mask mandates, but noted that some had to reinstate those policies when cases spiked. Because of this Dr Forbes said any similar moves in The Bahamas should be done judiciously.

“As we rollback restrictions we have to look at the situation and we have to be very, very prudent as we remove these restrictions. One should be careful because if you roll restrictions back too quickly there will be an uptick in cases and that is happening in many places at the moment.

“For example, there are places in the United States where cases are going up, they’ve doubled in some locations and they are reinstituting things like recommendations for wearing masks in public places. And so, all things considered when you roll back restrictions you have to do it in a measured and prudent manner, if you don’t and there’s an uptick in cases you will have to reinstate some of the guidelines and restrictions, you don’t want to do that.”

Dr Forbes also discussed how there had been a decline in general vaccination for various diseases over the course of the pandemic. She said that Bahamians should aim for higher vaccination coverage to help things get back to normal.

“In the COVID pandemic there was a reduction in general vaccination coverage, not just for COVID, but for other vaccine preventable diseases. It’s time for us to catch up on that and overall, it’s still important for us to aim to have high vaccination coverage against COVID-19, upward of 70 percent. That will protect the healthcare systems and it will help for things to get closer to normal, reducing further restrictions for example.”

Comments

tribanon 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Forbes remains 100% owned by agents of Communist Red China who could not care less about the interests of The Bahamian people. And she dutifully sings whatever song they tell her to sing for her supper with absolutely no personal shame for all the harm she has caused to Bahamians. Her voice will forever be irrelevant on public health matters of significance to our nation.

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ohdrap4 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh that the medical tyrants still call for restrictions.

Had you all stopped drinking sodas, eating chips and chicken in the bag the restrictions would be gone quicker.

But they take revenge while laughing.

She should be ashamed of reccomending mssks. What type of expert is she?

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Twocent 3 months, 3 weeks ago

She ultimately showed her only interest was her paycheck. Trust gone. Feb 2020 “Conspiracy Theorists” were not wrong after all! “ She said that Bahamians should aim for higher vaccination coverage to help things get back to normal.” so we will be allowed to get back to normal if we obey? Is that a threat? LOL ROL !

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carltonr61 3 months, 3 weeks ago

@trib. The Chinese just discovered two things. The virus many affects Hun Chinese as a sect among hundreds of Chinese sects. And two, the Wahun Lab has a build it data protection that destroys foreign power works immediately. The global banking systems has warned that epic living disasters will hit banking and nations due to the Wests response to Russia around the world and the maintenance of covid new world order.

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carltonr61 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Globalist pain doctors disregard their Hippocritic Oath and should loose their license. Instead doctors who refute WHO Covid pandemic for life theory loose their medical license. It is Inhumane, evil and insane this globalist God over the world Covid for life rich man's dream invention for control and profit.

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