Prime Minister, The Most Honourable Dr. Hubert Minnis in a National Address to the country on Sunday afternoon, August 9th, 2020 at 5pm, announced several changes in the most recent Emergency Orders, which began a nationwide two-week lockdown on Tuesday, August 4th, 2020, including updated shopping hours, and a lifting of the lockdown for several islands in the southern Bahamas, with no cases to-date of the COVID-19 virus.
The islands where the lockdown was lifted as of Monday morning, August 10th, 2020, for regular commercial activity, as well as unrestricted travel between them, included; Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Long Island, and Ragged Island.
PM Minnis revealed that a suspected swab test from the island of San Salvador was still pending, and the fate of the island’s lockdown status would depend on the negative or positive result of that test. He also added that each island in the country would continue to be monitored on a case by case basis.
A need for greater access to food stores had been observed added the prime minister, so, he said there would now be an extension of food store hours to 7pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – and to 6pm on Saturday. Food stores would also be allowed to re-stock on Tuesday, Thursdays and Sundays.
Tackling the question of overrun healthcare facility capacity in the country for treating patients ill with the COVID-19 virus, Minnis outlined the government’s plan going forward.
Super Clubs Breezes in New Providence has been engaged as a partner. “The plan is to utilize the east building of the hotel as a National Response Facility to meet the needs of non-COVID 19 “low medical care” patients during the pandemic. This facility will accommodate both the employees that are attending the patients on one floor, and clinical and management operations on other floors. Security services will be provided by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, supplemented by a PHA (Public Health Authority) contracted security firm. This facility will be up and running very shortly,” said Minnis, adding that the government is only being asked to cover utility costs during the use of the hotel as the new national response facility – and thanked Breezes for their role as a corporate citizen during this pandemic.
The PM confirmed that, moving forward, clinical management of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases will be treated at the South Beach Center (mild to moderate presentation), the Princess Margaret Hospital – PMH (moderate to severe presentation), and at the Doctors Hospital Health System – West (moderate to severe presentation). He also clarified that PMH would continue to manage medical and surgical patients at the main hospital. “The relocation,” he detailed, “from the Princess Margaret Hospital of boarders and the establishment of the National Response Facility off-site, will make available more beds so that COVID-19 patients can be more easily accommodated at PMH.”
The combined strategy to increase bed capacity in both the public and private healthcare systems would result in an increase of approximately eighty patient beds, said Prime Minister Minnis.
With one additional death reported on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard on Sunday evening, the overall case count in the country stood at 898, with 777 active cases and 35 people now in hospital. Eleuthera, was the latest island to report a case, with one confirmed on Saturday, August 8th. Abaco has 28 confirmed cases, Exuma has 3, Cat Island has 3, 12 cases have been reported in the Berry Islands, and 45 in Bimini. Grand Bahama stands at 389 cases to-date, and New Providence has 417.
In his address, the prime minister also spoke about the adequacy of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the public health system, his outreach to health related unions to address their concerns, the continued efforts of the national Food Assistance Task Force, expansion of the contact tracing Command Center at the Melia hotel, Police actions to enforce current safety measures, as well as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Disaster Preparedness Ministry’s readiness during the remainder of the 2020 hurricane season.
For the Prime Minister’s full national address read more here. To follow the daily updated Ministry of Health COVID-19 Dashboard and corresponding case updates, read more here.
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