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INSIGHT: The invisible wave of COVID

THIS May 13, 2020 photo made with a fisheye lens shows a list of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake County early in the coronavirus pandemic at the Salt Lake County Health Department, in Salt Lake
City. Health officials later moved to tracking the cases in an online database, but the white board remains in the office as a reminder of how quickly the coronavirus spread. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

THIS May 13, 2020 photo made with a fisheye lens shows a list of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Salt Lake County early in the coronavirus pandemic at the Salt Lake County Health Department, in Salt Lake City. Health officials later moved to tracking the cases in an online database, but the white board remains in the office as a reminder of how quickly the coronavirus spread. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

A FRIEND tested positive for COVID-19 last week. He had to take a test ahead of travel, and hadn’t expected a positive result – but there it was. He was fully vaccinated, had the booster, and hadn’t felt ill at all, but still somewhere along the way he picked up the virus. It was, in his case, almost an invisible illness.

Invisible might be the word for how COVID-19 is being treated in many ways these days. Last week, CNN reported on the “invisible wave” of COVID that has been spreading across the US. Why invisible? Well, the official counts of cases are more incomplete these days. At-home tests have increasingly replaced the number of tests done at laboratories, and when people test at home, they don’t report the outcome to add to the official count.

Instead, some areas have resorted to testing sewage water, to work out levels of infection based on how much is in wastewater.

The US isn’t the only country where official test results are giving a less complete picture. Last year, Al Jazeera was reporting that the UK death toll was under-reported by half, while earlier this year The Independent was reporting “tens of thousands” of cases missing from the UK government’s daily figures.

Here at home, the daily dashboard only records positive results from PCR tests – not the rapid antigen tests. When Dr Duane Sands noted that the actual number of cases in The Bahamas could be much higher than the official figures, infectious disease expert Dr Nikkiah Forbes agreed that that figures may be different, but that officials also had access to the rapid antigen test figures. Those are less reliable so they are not published, but they do serve as a general guide for officials on the number of cases.

Meanwhile, those totals here keep creeping up. A number of schools have already reverted to online learning for students – at least in part, I suspect, to try to minimise the risk of disruption to examinations.

A significant number of other schools have seen positive cases – and the Bahamas Union of Teachers has called on the government to “utilise wisdom” over the shutting of schools.

It’s hard to know what that means. The union says to ensure safety is first, but it’s not very specific.

BUT president Belinda Wilson rattled off a list of schools with positive cases – CR Walker, TG Glover, CC Sweeting Senior, Garvin Tynes Primary School, Stephen Dillett, CV Bethel, Arthur’s Town Comprehensive, SC McPherson, Laura Anderson in North Eleuthera, North Eleuthera High, Doris Johnson, Gambier Primary, Gerald Cash, Eva Hilton.

So how does wisdom apply in these cases? Shut the school after a case? Two cases? Three?

This far into the pandemic, it seems remarkable that so many decisions still seem to be made on the fly. Why not have it clearly explained to everyone what level of infection or number of hospitalisations triggers certain measures? Have our own ratings of stage one, stage two, etc, and reaching a certain level of cases automatically triggers the next level and the restrictions that go with it?

There seems to be a great resistance now to reintroducing any restrictions. We have had several weeks of cases going up – as has been the case across the region – and yet this weekend partygoers took to the road and joined in carnival. How many cases will we see from this weekend of celebration? What effect will that have on our numbers? Normally, they say wait a week to two weeks to see the rise in infections – so take a look at the figures a fortnight from now.

Many have had the opportunity to go and get vaccinated if they wish – but not our young children. There is no vaccination available here for children under 12, and even if parents were to bundle their youngsters up and head to Miami to get vaccinated, there’s no vaccine cleared at all for children aged five and under yet.

Last week, the death tally was revised after examination of earlier cases, reaching a new total of 810. Had 810 of our brothers and sisters been murdered in the same length of time as the pandemic, we would have had howls of outrage, demands for action, government being held to account. And yet here we are, with the same number of fatalities and we seem eager to throw off the measures that stops that number from rising further.

We may be facing an invisible wave – but we must not let our compassion become invisible. We must still show that we care by the actions we take. We know too many have already died – so what are we prepared to do to stop those numbers rising further?

Comments

CoolCatBD 1 month ago

This is why The Bahamas needs, "The WHO", we would be in complete lockdown by now! Safe in our homes for the last six weeks, like those people in China.

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DWW 1 month ago

if enough people got waxxed then there would be no need to lockdown or virtual. But since so many people refused we can all enjoy getting the disease. From the beginning there was never any mention of NOT getting it. The lockdown was to buy time to get people waxxed. If you didn't get waxxed that is your choice but don't ruin my life for your stupidity (yes immuno compromised cannot take the wax, which is why the rest of us need to). Just because you are stupid and listen to youtube doesn't mean my liberties get to be f'd with. grow up people and stop acting like spoiled children, whaaa!!! I don't want to get a needle whaa!!!. dam crybabies ruining it for the rest of us.

Mr. Strachan - you are inaccurate - waxxes are available for children over 5 in most of the world, only in the Bahamas is only for over 12. This is a result of the present (and hopefully short lived) administration who are busy gallivanting and could care less about the children of the Bahamas. shameful behaviour really. All the PLP have done is try to cast blame and got into the pockets of crypto causing a crash is it just coinkidink that it lost 50% value right after Davis announced that you could cash in crypto in the Bahamas?

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

Oh please I know fully vaccinated people who've had COVID twice.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

And crypto was going to fall anyway. It's a cycle that has nothing to do with "crypto". Its pure speculation, should I buy now or should I sell now. They could literally be selling cow dung. As long as someone thinks they can make money by holding onto it long enough for the price to go up, it works. I dont know if its sophisticated enough to have automatic buys and sells based on the current price. But just as it fell it will rise the only question is by how much and how long till the next drop and sell off

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ohdrap4 1 month ago

He was fully vaccinated, had the booster, and hadn’t felt ill at all, but still somewhere along the way he picked up the virus. It was, in his case, almost an invisible illness.

The obedient got it too.

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CoolCatBD 1 month ago

So, unvaccinated children, are the problem, not the lack of Horse Paste?

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JokeyJack 1 month ago

Exactly. These people are so silly - there used to be a boogie man under every bed, now there is Corona virus underneath every mask. Invisible ??????????????!!!!!??? LOL. Yep. I saw an invisible leprechaun last week and I followed him to the end of an invisible rainbow, and there I found an invisible pot of gold, which i immediately carried to and deposited in an invisible bank. Now I have an invisible million dollars that I can spend.

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CoolCatBD 1 month ago

So, 100% people & all Animal Reservoirs, will have to be waxxes, every four to five months. Not even The WHO, can do that!!!

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ted4bz 1 month ago

All that for nothing. Only someone who did such a foolish thing would say and wish others such foolish things. And, I know you wish you didn’t, well, I didn't and do not care for such silly wishes.

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John 1 month ago

A talk show hostess was virtually bragging how all U S airlines have abandoned mask requirements on all flights. She went on to say how she wandered around the US mask less amongst other hundreds of (strange) people, then hopped on a plane and came back to rejoin the Bahamian populace, not sure if she had Covid, monkey pox or Joe Biden. The host went on to say, probably in ignorance. ( it out of it) that she didn’t see why Bahamasair did not join Other ({American) airlines and abandon its masks requirements. Well, firstly, the doing away with masks mandates across the US and on US airlines was not all mandatory. It was mostly the result of a judge ruling that mask mandates were unconstitutional. And many Airline personnel, stewardess especially, will tell you they would prefer to have the masks back, And our own figures indicate that seventy five percent of positive Covid tests are amongst persons who travelled internationally and for most of them, the US was their destination. But who with any iota of common sense could be calling for more relaxing of Covid safety protocols, when the numbers speak for themselves? And this week especially, when the numbers in the Family Islands are up and some islands are seeing new cases for the first time in months.

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tribanon 1 month ago

Who with an iota of common sense would now believe for one moment that the vast majority of available and affordable masks offer any protection whatsoever from COVID-19 and its variants? From day one of the epidemic the mask wearing has just been another cruel hoax and scare tactic directed at subjecting the masses (even very young children) to cruelly humiliating and demeaning treatment for evil population control purposes. But you @John are proudly immune to being cruelly humiliated and demeaned. LOL

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John 1 month ago

I’ve learned to ignore idiots. There’s empirical evidence to confirm that masks wearing has a great impact on the spread of Covid

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User1234 1 month ago

This article is ridiculous...Tracking cases of a disease that now effectively has the same symptoms as a cold and less of an IFR than flu is lunacy. I would also challenge the 'data from the UK' The UK had one of the most accurate tracking mechanisms. In addition it over estimated deaths due to the criteria for counting deaths 'within 28 days of a positive test'. Worrying about how cases 'could be higher' is crazy...if these people aren't in hospital then that in itself tells you that you do not have a 'health issue'

This country will never get out of the pandemic if you continue to spout this rubbish.

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ted4bz 1 month ago

All nonsense. I am watching dozens and dozens of video footage from villages all across the eastern Ukraine. I am yet to see one person wearing mask or complaining of covid or any nonsense. Maybe we need real problems like the Ukraine, Yemen, Libya , Syria, etc so we can have something real to talk about, something real to be scared about and something real to complain about.Invisible, Nonsense.

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