• Dr. Marcus Bethel is one of the noted medical practitioners in this region. He is a former Bahamas Government Minister of Health and has been noted, since he got out of frontline politics, to contribute to major issues that relate to Grand Bahama and the wider Bahamas. In this instance, the global malady, coronavirus (COVID-19) is the focus. Today, we publish his contribution in its entirety.
“The Nations of the World in general, and, the Bahamas in particular watch as the pandemic spreads and impacts their lives and their economies.
Preservation of lives and health are the foremost global challenges for governments and individuals. Secondly, restoration of economies which are adversely impacted will remain a major challenge for all countries.
Here in The Bahamas the challenges are now evident as the country is challenged by a curfew; hotels, businesses and schools are shuttered; unemployment increases exponentially; and families are under extreme stress due to the economic conditions.
Bahamians are also terrified for their health prospects as four (4) cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Nassau, our Capital. This likely represents an under count of the prevalence of the virus, and it is anticipated that as increased screening is conducted, the numbers will escalate.
Preventative measures will require both proactive and reactive measures of residents and the Government of The Bahamas (GOB), as more is learned about the behaviour of the new virus.
Recommended proactive measures for the public have been clearly announced via media and posters and include hand washing frequently for 20 seconds, coughing and sneezing into the crease of the elbow, wiping down counter surfaces, door handles and light switches regularly with sanitizers and social distancing measures.
Recommended proactive measures for the GOB include implementing tax relief measures for the public, mobilising grant monies and pledges from reliable sources including foreign governments and private sector sources to stabilize the economy, acquiring reliable testing equipment, including supply chain items such as nasopharyngeal swab kits for transport to laboratory in Nassau, appropriate supplies of personal protective equipment for frontline workers, including nurses, doctors and transport workers, adequate numbers of respirators/ ventilator for the hospitals and isolation facilities for those in need.
It is apparent that some of these measures are being addressed by Ministry of Health with limited success. The proposal to mobilize the West End Clinic in Grand Bahama for isolation and treatment of infected ill persons has been met with passionate protests by residents of that community, with justification, in my view.
GOB ought to locate such a facility at the site of the destroyed University of Bahamas campus on Queen’s Highway, which has a large paved area and buildings with upper level rooms if needed. The erection of a field hospital at that site would provide a facility 10 miles from the Freeport downtown area and away from established settlements in Grand Bahama.
Such a facility would also provide care for individuals from the northern Bahamas, including Grand Bahama, Abaco and Bimini who may require hospitalization.
(The) Government of The Bahamas must be proactive and reactive in this crisis to safeguard the health and build the confidence of the populace as this pandemic is far from over.
May God continue to protect and bless our Bahamaland.”