Minister of Health, Renward Wells, during his presentation at a press conference hosted by the Ministry of Health on Friday afternoon, July 23rd, 2021, announced a number of new measures in response to the uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases across the Bahamas during recent weeks.
While New Providence remains the epicenter of cases and hospitalizations, along with Grand Bahama, a number of Family Islands were also highlighted as being a concern for health authorities, with a close eye being kept on growing case numbers – including Eleuthera.
Dr. Jillian Bartlett, Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for Family Islands, shared on Friday that as of July 23rd, 2021, Eleuthera had a total of 42 active cases currently on island (2 in Spanish Wells, 14 in North Eleuthera, 8 in Harbour Island, 9 in Central Eleuthera, and 9 in South Eleuthera).
260 people in Eleuthera were said to be in quarantine (33 in Spanish Wells, 79 in North Eleuthera, 62 in Harbour Island, 21 in Central Eleuthera, and 65 in South Eleuthera).
40 people in Eleuthera were said to be under investigation (PUI’s) – (6 in North Eleuthera, 2 in Harbour Island, 9 in Central Eleuthera, and 23 in South Eleuthera).
Three deaths in Eleuthera, since the beginning of the pandemic have been related to COVID-19 (1 in North Eleuthera, 1 in Harbour Island, and 1 in Central Eleuthera).
Minister Wells announced the following new measures on Friday, saying, “Based on the recommendations of our health professionals, the Government of The Bahamas has decided to take the following measures which shall come into effect on Monday, 26th July, 2021, at 5:00a.m.
“For New Providence, Grand Bahama and North and South Eleuthera (including Harbour Island), a curfew will be implemented between the hours of 10:00p.m. to 5:00a.m.
“RT PCR Testing will be required for travel from New Providence Grand Bahama, North and South Eleuthera (including Harbour Island). This applies to persons who are NOT fully vaccinated.
“For New Providence and Grand Bahama, religious worship will be limited to 33% of the occupancy capacity of the religious facility. Services are to be limited to one hour, and all safety guidelines of the Bahamas Christain Council are to be followed.
“In regards to funerals, no funerals or cremation services are permitted indoors, and funerals or burial services are to be held at the graveside only. Cremation services will only be permitted provided that they are held outdoors. A maximum of 30 persons are allowed at funeral services. This excludes the officiant and the funeral workers at the funeral, burial or cremation services. Repasts will not be permitted at this time.
“A maximum of 30 persons will be allowed to attend a wedding indoors or outdoors. This number excludes the officiant.
“Exercise groups are limited to a maximum of 10 persons. It is recommended that there be no recreational or sporting activities at this time. Groups congregating on the beaches and parks should be no more that 5 persons. Professional athletes can continue to train. Maximum capacities as gyms and movie theatres are now set at 33%.
“As regards to restaurants, dining is restricted to outdoor and takeaways services, and it is encouraged that there be no loitering of groups outside restaurants or at fish fries. These restrictions, however, do not apply to hotel properties.
“No spas will be opened. This includes massages, waxing, threading and facials.
“For all islands of The Bahamas, private gatherings will be restricted to 5 persons provided that the individuals are vaccinated. Lastly, persons who are campaigning, must be fully vaccinated and campaigning teams are restricted to 5 persons.
“In appreciation for the sanctity of life, let us continue to adhere to the public health precautions. Wear your masks, continually practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings and do not forget to frequently wash your hands.
“We must not let our guards down. We must continue to take the necessary precautions. As we work to limit the spread of this deadly virus through vaccination and national vigilance.”
Minister Wells, in his presentation, also gave the latest national COVID-19 report, revealing that 110 new cases were confirmed in the Bahamas on Thursday, July 22nd (10 of those were in Eleuthera), and that 92 people were currently hospitalized. An additional death of a 50 year-old female from New Providence was also reported on Thursday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in the country to 280 people. 23 deaths in the country remain under investigation.
A dire picture was given of hospital capacity in the capital, which also serves all the Family Islands, described as being at its absolute maximum currently. Morgue services, with a capacity of 73 deceased, were also highlighted as ‘being at three times their capacity’, currently holding 225 bodies. Minister Wells urged family members to claim the remains of their loved ones, before the government was made to take legal action to manage ongoing services.
Wells highlighted a donation of 3,496 vaccines which arrived in country on Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 from UK Overseas Territories – Anguilla and Montserrat – to be used for people receiving their second dose of the vaccine. The third tranche of 33,600 vaccines originally expected to arrive from the COVAX Facility on July 26th, was said to now be delayed with a new expected arrival date during the first week in August. Other sources of vaccines, through CARICOM’s CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency), and the United States – also through COVAX were said to be possible sources of additional vaccines in country during August 2021.
See the link provided, to read Minister Renward Wells’ full presentation.