Wednesday 2 December, 2020

Bahamas: Beaches, parks reopening despite COVID spike in some areas

[iStock.com/Nerthuz]

[iStock.com/Nerthuz]

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is urging Bahamians to remain hopeful even in the face of a surge in COVID-19 cases.

During a national address on Sunday he said even with the resurgence of the virus through courage, resilience and unceasing prayer they will overcome the virus.

Prime Minister Minnis said as the territory continues to grapple with the effects of the virus, their core objectives are:

  • Preserving life and health
  • Providing basic social security and food assistance to those in need
  • Boosting jobs and the economy as much as possible given the devastating blow the pandemic has dealt to the tourism-based economy
  • Ensuring the security and safety of Bahamians and residents

The Prime Minister said the global pandemic has forced the government to make sizable, non-budgeted financial investments to use privately owned facilities as the public healthcare system is severely limited.

“The Princess Margaret Hospital had an inpatient complement of 420 beds. We are living in a healthcare environment with the dramatically increasing use of health services by more critically ill patients as well as social cases at PMH. There is also an exponential growth in healthcare costs. The regrettable practice of leaving elderly family members in the Emergency Department at PMH after they no longer require hospitalisation has also given rise to recurrent long-term boarders.”

PM Minnis said as the hospital approaches capacity, the Public Hospitals Authority sought alternate accommodations for the relocation of patients.

The government has established a Contact Tracing Command Centre which will be manned by a group of public health experts with support from the Surveillance Unit, National Health Insurance Programme, other government agencies and private entities.

According to PM Minnis, the core objective of the centre is to strengthen the Surveillance Unit’s ability to identify new cases and their contacts and intervene with the appropriate measures.

He said it is imperative that residents cooperate fully and honestly with the authorities.

Commenting on the effects of the pandemic on the territory’s economy, he said the strategy for economic recovery is still being finalised.

In the interim, the government will continue to offer assistance to those in need.

“In my contribution to the recent budget debate, I noted the allocation of $16 million for food assistance. Your government is delivering on this commitment. We are now providing $1 million per week to the National Food Distribution Task Force to ensure those who are truly in need of food are being helped.”

Prime Minister Minnis said the Food Assistance programme is entering its eleventh week.

To date 27, 705 households in The Bahamas have registered for assistance.

During Sunday's press conference Prime Minister Minnis also announced plans to relax restrictions in some islands.

Based on the advice of healthcare officials normal commercial activity and some social activity will be allowed to resume.

Effective 5 am on Monday, August 10 beaches and parks will reopen and church services can resume.

This applies to:

  • Mayaguana
  • Inagua
  • Crooked Island
  • Acklins
  • Long Cay
  • Long Island
  • Rum Cay
  • Ragged Island

PM Minnis said health officials will continue to monitor and assess the COVID-19 developments on each island and determine on a case by case basis when it is safe to relax restrictions.

On Sunday the Ministry of Health confirmed that 20 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the territory, 15 cases in Grand Bahama and five in New Providence.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 898.

The Prime Minister said: “We have a long journey ahead with this virus. Do not be misled by conspiracy theories, fake news magical thinking and fake therapies. We have to learn to live with this virus until there is a vaccine, pursuing the best policies and behaviours to allow commerce and interaction while also limiting infections.”

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