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EDITORIAL: Be guided by experts on rolling back restrictions

IN yesterday’s Tribune, we reported that officials are monitoring a “slight increase” in COVID-19 cases over recent days. In today’s Tribune, you can read that Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis is discussing getting rid of mask mandates by summer.

The current administration has steadily signalled a desire to get rid of the various restrictions implemented in the fight against COVID – starting with removing the late-night curfews as soon as being voted into office.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper predicted a further easing of virus restrictions in the days ahead – and now the Prime Minister is discussing such measures.

He said yesterday: “We just need to be able to trust the Bahamian people, which we have done, and insofar as that is concerned you’ll see that a lot of measures have been relaxed.

“They’re now considering the further relaxation of the mask mandate. Right now outdoors, it’s been relaxed. It’s only indoors until we are sure that some of the indoor venues could have what I call proper air ventilation to ensure that the virus is not being trapped and that is now being considered by the experts as to when we should lift the mask totally.”

He added: “If I were to put a timeline on it, by summer, by summer for sure, even sooner.”

And yet there are those numbers that are ticking up – slightly, it must be noted, but a steady reminder that the virus is still with us.

It would be more encouraging if the Prime Minister and senior figures were to talk of the benefits of still wearing masks even after mandates are lifted.

It would be helpful if officials talked up the benefits to those parts of our population who are immunocompromised if we keep wearing masks to keep them safe, even if there is no longer a compulsion to wear masks legally.

Just last week, Dr Nikkiah Forbes, who has been at the forefront of much of the COVID fight, urged caution, saying: “It is 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 feet, 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.”

In other words, without trying to put words in Dr Forbes’ mouth, when the cases are low, that’s exactly the time to keep up the protocols to squash the remaining cases when the chances of transmission are at their lowest.

Dr Forbes urged a slow rollback of restrictions – albeit allowing the return of such things as festivals if cases remain low. She pointed to cases in the US where spikes have been seen as mandates have been removed.

It’s a delicate process, finding the right balance can be hard, but we hope the choices being made are driven by medical advice and not political will.

None of us wants to see a substantial spike in cases – we have already seen far too many funerals in this pandemic. Too many of us know loved ones who have succumbed to the virus, and many of us know vulnerable people we still seek to protect.

We must not act too hastily, and throw away the progress that has been made.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 2 months, 1 week ago

Nobody should be using the words "slight" and "increase" together in reference to COVID. It's an exponential spreader. "If" and big "if" this turns into a problematic spike, by the time you acknowledge it's a thing it's too late. The only thing saving us now is BA2 isnt known to be that virulent cause God knows nobody is putting public health of Bahamians first

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bahamianson 2 months, 1 week ago

Please us3 the term " experts", loosely. At this point common sense and logic trumps expertise and political ag3ndas.

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User1234 2 months, 1 week ago

this article is laughable...you can't squash the cases...its endemic ACROSS THE WORLD. Look at China...if they can't do it, under a dictatorship, then a mask will not do it...for the love of god just go back to normal life...protect yourself if you aren't comfortable, you have wrecked education and the economy, the world in the main is going back to normal

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