To date the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the country remains at four, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands confirmed yesterday – Sunday, March 22 – during a nationally televised update.
“As of Sunday, March 22 the Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed four cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. These cases are all in New Providence. Seven people are in a quarantined facility, and 35 persons have been released from quarantine.
“The first case remains in hospital. She is in stable condition and is being managed in isolation. Health officials continue to follow the condition of the three other COVID-19 positive cases, who remain in isolation and who do not require hospitalization at this time. These three cases are contacts of the first. The MOH is aggressively conducting contact tracing with people who were in contact with those infected with the virus,” said the minister.
He added that COVID-19 remains a serious threat.
“The MOH has activated its Emergency Operations Centre as part of its strategy to mitigate the spread of this Coronavirus and to save lives. This ministry has expanded its testing capacity. There are 1,750 test kits on New Providence and 10,000 rapid test kits have been ordered. Two-thousand-five-hundred (2,500) test kits are expected in New Providence by mid-week. Our partner, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), is helping to build lab capacity and continues to assist in sourcing test kits.
“COVID-19 testing is conducted at the MOH’s National Reference Laboratory, which is internationally accredited by the College of American Pathologists. It is the only laboratory in The Bahamas certified to perform COVID-19 testing. The Doctors’ Hospital facility on Blake Road, which will be used to treat ill COVID-19 positive patients, will be on stream tomorrow (Monday, March 23).
“To better respond to the critical demand information, at least 30 nurses and physicians have been oriented to man a Virtual Call Centre. You can call the 24-hour hotline at 502-7382 or 376-9350, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. or 376-9387 from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and Toll free at 242-300-2619. Additional numbers will come on line in the coming days,” advised Dr. Sands.
He noted that the call centre is reserved for COVID-19 related questions only; not for general questions unrelated to COVID-19, nor for medical emergencies. “If you have a medical emergency, call 911.”
If persons have a National Insurance Board (NIB) number, they are asked to have it readily available, when calling the hotline numbers.
“On the readiness of the Family Islands, the ministry has ensured that all working health protocols are in place for clinics and health facilities throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, as it relates to quarantine and isolation facilities and assessment and treatment guidelines. Family Island health teams are working closely with Family Island Administrators and other allied health officers, including Immigration and Customs officers to ensure the health and safety of our residents.”
As it relates to Grand Bahama, specifically, Dr. Sands expressed that should the need arise, measures have been put in place to quarantine persons, if found to test positive for the virus.
“The PHA is responsible for acute care services in Grand Bahama and have completed the construction of a special COVID-19 facility at the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH). Patients will be managed there, separate and apart from the regular care of patients which will continue in the Samaritan’s Purse Unit as well as those parts of the RMH, which are open. There will be no lack of continuity of care provided to the people of Grand Bahama,” the minister assured. He added that all residents play a vital role in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He thanked all medical professionals that are on the frontlines, in the war against the disease. “These brave workers need the help of every person in this country to fight the virus. We need you to follow the public health advice given. Stay home if you feel ill and have fever and or respiratory symptoms. If you have a cold or flu symptoms and you think that you need to see a physician, call ahead first to alert them that you are coming. Frequently wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing and then discard it properly; or cover your mouth and nose with your upper sleeve and refrain; if possible, try to refrain from touching your face.
“Social distancing is keeping away from others as much as possible. Effective social distancing is critical to us stopping the spread of the virus. Do not congregate at hang out spots or in the neighbourhood. Do not entertain visitors or family members in your home.”
He added that persons are encouraged to maintain a three-to-six-foot distance from others when standing in lines, among others.
“Stay at home unless you have to go out for essential items or if you are an essential service or health worker,” he stressed.
“We need every Bahamian to help to save lives by following this advice. By unnecessarily moving around in the community, you could contract the virus and spread it to your friends and family but by following the public health and social distancing advice, each Bahamian can help to save lives. The success to which The Bahamas controls this pandemic is not dependent on just the health sector response, but on each and every one of us doing our part. From the youngest child to the oldest citizen, we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Sands.