50 Coronavirus tests in country; more on order

50 Coronavirus tests in country; more on order

80 percent of cases will not require hospital-level care

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials have ordered additional test kits for coronavirus (COVID-19), according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan, who said there are 50 available currently.

During a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, McMillan said there is sufficient supply to conduct testing, but indicated mass or random testing will not be performed at this time.

She underscored The Bahamas is prepared to sufficiently respond to protect residents against the threat of the virus.

The ministry gained the capability to test for the Coronavirus last week.

She said turnaround time for testing of an individual is approximately 12 hours for a “presumptive” status, and confirmed status within two days.

She also said there is an ample supply of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare staff and the capacity for laboratory testing.

There are no suspected, reported or confirmed cases of the virus in The Bahamas.

Dominican Republic reported its first case of the Coronavirus Sunday.

A 62-year-old man from Italy tested positive for the virus and was in stable condition, the country’s health minister Rafael Sanchez confirmed. Another tourist from France, a 56-year-old man, was under observation at the hospital and awaiting test results, according to the New York Times.

Asked if consideration was being given to change The Bahamas travel status relating to Italy, McMillan said officials are following the cases appearing in the sub-region, but have not yet made a decision to change its border control measures.

However, she said: “A policy decision will need to be made with respect to whether or not we begin to include other countries as we learn of additional cases occurring.”

The World Health Organization has recommended travelers avoid non-essential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and Italy due to widespread outbreak of the virus in those countries.

McMillan recommended that people who must travel to any affected region, take precautions to protect themselves and to “be diligent, [and] pay attention”.

As it relates to equipment and adequate space in the event a case presents in The Bahamas, McMillan said efforts are underway to shore up the health sector’s capacity.

She said based on what has taken place globally, namely China, 80 percent of people contracting the virus will not require hospital-level care, however, sufficient facilities for isolation are being put in place.

“As this evolves, we have begun preparedness at the hospital level to put in place what is required in the event we have a case diagnosed, requiring hospital level care

“What we know is that most cases thus far — from the China experience — about 80 percent will not require hospital level care, but the 20 percent we are putting in place facilities for isolation. We would have actually identified on the hospital compound, kind of a modular facility; what we can use for ensuring that we are able to isolate should we need to and provide the necessary level of care.”

Twenty-eight people have been quarantined in The Bahamas and subsequently released.

As of yesterday, no one was in quarantine, according to McMillan.

However, she said the number is expected to fluctuate.

The Ministry of Health has partially convened its emergency operating center, and has met with stakeholders ranging from tourism officials to border control and customs; as well as aviation and law enforcement officials.

McMillan said while one case of the virus entering The Bahamas can be detrimental to the “very fabric of our country”, the spread of the virus to the nation, given its spread worldwide “can become a reality”. 

“Be assured that the Ministry of Health in partnership with essential stakeholder groups is ready to ensure the health protection of all residents and visitors to The Bahamas should COVID-19 make it to our shores.”

There have been more than 85,000 cases confirmed worldwide.

Just under 3,000 people have died, while another 42,112 have recovered.


Why is The Bahamas using test kits from the CDC instead of those of WHO or Germany?

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