The government invested a lot in financial capital to not only bring the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH) bringing the health care facility back, but as a state-of-the-art property.
So, said Minister of Health Renward Wells, during his remarks at the recommissioning ceremony on Friday (April 23) on the grounds of the Rand Memorial Hospital.
“We took it beyond where it was previously, with state of the art construction, climate resilient construction, positive pressure inside the building to help with COVID. There are special surfaces inside the Rand. I want to thank the contractors but more so, I want to thank the hardworking and dedicated officers of Grand Bahama Health Services who have endured much since (Hurricane) Dorian, in helping to keep the people of Grand Bahama safe and healthy in very challenging circumstances.
“Now, as a government we are proud to be able to offer this kind of edifice to them, so that they can continue the marvelous work that they have been doing, for and on behalf of the Bahamian people,” Wells said.
In terms of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells, reiterated that while the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, he encourages residents to be vaccinated, in order for The Bahamas to return to some sort of normalcy as it related to re-opening the economy in full.
“The government has a three-pronged policy and we would have spoken to it on a number of occasions. The three-pronged policy is this – vaccinations are not mandatory; the vaccinations are free; and we are not going to vaccinate anyone except those under the age of 18, unless the science changes and says that it is okay to do so,” he added.
Wells noted that the Government of The Bahamas is moving forward with its vaccinations for all of the individuals that are stepping forward, who are receiving the vaccine and wanting to receive the vaccine.
“As a matter of fact, we have had a major uptick in individuals signing up to be vaccinated over the past few days. We are working vigorously to source other vaccines so that we are able to get our entire society vaccinated, so that we can move forward. Interestingly enough today, the United Kingdom experts announced that they are now beyond the pandemic based on two things.
“Number one is the large portion of their population that they have now vaccinated, and secondly, due to the fact that they vaccinated their persons while everyone was adhering to the health protocols. It brought their number of positives down dramatically. Israel is announcing the same thing, having done the same process; the process that we are now going through, the process that we have decided to ensue and ensure, as a government takes place,” he said.
Wells added that looking to, in the near future as Israel is opening up, and the United Kingdom – having vaccinated large portions of their population – there will be no need to wear a mask anymore.
“We are looking forward to seeing that take place in The Bahamas so that we can open up our economy and get our Bahamian people back to work, bringing the hope and opportunity that so many folks have been looking for and desiring.”
Regarding persons who might be a bit apprehensive about the vaccine, as it is still possible to contract the disease even after having the vaccine, he had this to say:
“There is no 100 percent safe medical process; there is no 100 percent guarantee on anything; but we do know this, with vaccinations your opportunity to contract (COVID) is greatly reduced. The clinical effects that happen with you contracting COVID is greatly reduced. It gives you the opportunity to be able, as a society, to move to a circumstance that we now see taking place with the flu, more or less, where every year there is a new strain and folks receive a vaccination shot. We do not shut down our society because of the flu and a lot of experts are predicting that that is what will end up being the circumstance with COVID.
“We do know and we have the evidence, as I stated earlier, look at what is happening with the United Kingdom and Israel, that have vaccinated vast portions of their people and were able to open up their economy, control, mitigate and manage their health circumstances. I do not believe that the Bahamian people ought to be afraid. It is always good to be concerned and to seek the requisite information, but the government, I believe has made a very good decision, in being able to move in that direction,” said the minister.
In terms of the increase of COVID-19 cases of late, Wells gave an explanation. “Hospitalizations have gone up but are actually ticking down as of today (Friday, April 23) but if you look at Tuesday and Wednesday as opposed to Thursday of this week, hospitalizations have gone down slightly. We have seen an increase in cases and the Government of The Bahamas spoke to that before we went into the Easter holiday. We noted that there was a possibility that cases might rise and, we have seen that but, we are doing all that we can to mitigate those circumstances,” concluded Wells.
On Sunday, April 25, the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee announced that the COVID-19 vaccines are now available to all persons ages 18 years and older effective – Monday April 26. Vaccinations are available throughout the country.
As of Friday, April 23, 25,692 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Abaco.