TWO news stories on our front page today represent a collision of problem, and solution.
First, the problem – it is confirmed that we are now in another surge of COVID-19.
It is, of course, a tragedy that we have come round to this again, but in truth another wave has seemed likely for some time. After all, another wave swept through Europe and then the US, so it was likely it was going to reach our shores at some point. We might well consider we have done well to avoid it until now.
But now it is here, and it comes as we reach another sad landmark in the story of COVID in The Bahamas, with the total number of deaths from the pandemic in our country now having reached 800. 800 of our brothers and sisters no longer with us because of this horrible virus.
So far this month, we have already seen more than 200 confirmed new cases, and as has been pointed out by both FNM chairman Dr Duane Sands and infectious disease expert Dr Nikkiah Forbes, the actual number might be higher still because that number comes from PCR tests rather than antigen positive tests.
This comes on the heels of the news this week that a number of schools have moved back to virtual learning – Stephen Dillet School, St Anne’s, St Augustine’s College and Queen’s College – although the Ministry of Health and Wellness does not presently recommend the closure of schools in New Providence. This is despite more than three dozen COVID-19 cases among staff and students over the past several weeks.
When a surge comes, one thing is for certain – cases are going to go up. We are in the surge now, and the question is how high will it go? With that, there have to be concerns over how long the stance of keeping schools open will be the sensible one.
So what is the other story that presents a solution. Well, a number of Pfizer vaccines are due to expire at the end of this month. What’s the solution there? We should use them – before we lose them.
Efforts to boost vaccination rates have not been very successful – but now that a new wave is with us, perhaps that will focus the minds of some who perhaps haven’t rushed to get their boosters or their second shots. There are others still who haven’t had their first – but there’s no time like the present.
Around the world, and here on our own shores, it has been shown time and again that the vast majority of those who become hospitalised from COVID-19 are those who have not been vaccinated.
The vaccine may not stop everyone from catching the virus, but it has been shown to reduce the effects, and it can help slow, or stop the spread.
Our communities again have significant numbers of COVID cases in them, so take the sensible option – protect yourself, and in doing so, protect those you love.
Let’s make sure these vaccine doses don’t go to waste. If you’re due for a jab, go and get it. Ask your friends and family if they’re ready for their next shot, and encourage them to get it.
And in the meantime, keep following the guidance to wear masks, sanitise and keep our distance.
In the past few weeks, it may have seemed we had left the pandemic behind. We have not. It’s time for another push to stop the spread – and stop that number of people lost to the virus from ticking up higher and higher.