NASSAU, The Bahamas — Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands explained that late on Tuesday evening medical professionals confirmed two additional cases identified through contact tracing.
“These contact tracing investigations have revealed that household members of the COVID-19 positive patient travelled to Canada, Trinidad and Dubai — territories with known community transmission,” Dr. Sands said as he presented his Contribution in the House of Assembly on the COVID-19/2019 Corona virus, Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
“These household contacts have been quarantined and samples taken for testing. Other contacts, including healthcare providers, are being investigated to determine their level of exposure and risk. A total of 30 contacts of the COVID-19 positive patient have been identified.”
The Health Minister also noted that the first confirmed person with COVID-19 in The Bahamas, a 61-year-old female resident of New Providence who does not have a relevant travel history, continues to be monitored in isolation at the Princess Margaret Hospital and is in stable, clinical condition.
He stated that this first case triggered the operationalization of the Health Disaster Plan, and the full activation of the Health Emergency Operation Centre (EOC).
Dr. Sands added that now that the Ministry has transitioned from preparedness mode to response mode, it is sharing some of its mitigation actions:
• Re-tooled health services to redirect staff to enhance the COVID-19 response;
• Modified existing protocols;
• Manned a 24-hour hotline to ensure the public has an avenue to ask COVID-19 related questions and convey concerns;
• Re-doubled efforts to ensure adequate needed supplies, especially, and Personal Protective Equipment supplies; and test kits;
• Augmented public messaging to educate the public;
• Embedded advanced policy recommendations to bolster the social, labour, educational and economic response within a National COVID-19 Co-ordinating mechanism;
• The dedicated COVID website to go live covid19.gov.bs;
• Formalized plans to take services to the public in our communities;
• Enhanced testing capacity with an additional 750 test kits in county, seeking to order an additional 1000 – 5000;
• Tested suspected cases and close contacts of confirmed cases; and
• Collaboration between public health system and private sector for enhanced treatment capacity, and the instillation of a modular unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Dr. Sands stressed that the steps taken now and in the days ahead will determine the degree of the spread of the Coronavirus in The Bahamas.
He said all Bahamians should follow proven public health advice by closely adhering to the following recommendations:
1. Maintain a distance of at least 3 – 6 feet between you and others. This is social distancing; and in practical terms means you should avoid recreational and leisure activities, large crowds, playdates, in-person meetings and public transportation;
2. Disinfect surfaces regularly. Examples of these include work surfaces, phones, light switches, door knobs, play toys, tables and floors;
3. Wash hands with soap and water. If you do not have access to washing facilities, use hand sanitizers with at least 65% alcohol;
4. Avoid unnecessary travel;
5. Stay home if you are sick;
6. Stay home if you are at higher risk of being infected with COVID-19. These people include the elderly and those who have diabetes, hypertension, lung conditions (example asthma), heart disease and kidney disease. This also refers to those who already have a weakened immune system such as cancer patients, those on high-dose steroids, pregnant women and those morbidly obese.
By Llonella Gilbert
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