Beach presents moderate-risk of COVID spread, says Texas Medical Assoc.

Beach presents moderate-risk of COVID spread, says Texas Medical Assoc.
A closed sign at the entrance of Montague Beach. (FILE PHOTO)

Former minister of health says US represents “greatest risk” to The Bahamas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Physicians who comprise the Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force and the committee of infectious diseases determined that attending beach represents a moderate to low risk.

The task force created a risk level chart that determined going to an amusement, movie theater or bar, and working out at a gym, for examples, as high-risk activities of possible infection.

Opening the mall, getting restaurant takeout, pumping gasoline or going camping were considered low risk events.

Activities such as grocery shopping, sitting in a doctor’s office, library or museum, eating outdoors at a restaurant or spending an hour in a playground are considered moderate-low risk events.

And in addition to attending a beach, having dinner at someone’s house, shopping at a mall, working a week in an office building and swimming in a public pool were considered moderate risks to being exposed to the virus.

Conversely, moderately high-risk events, including playing a contact sport like basketball or football, travelling by plane, eating a restaurant indoors, going to a hair salon or barbershop.

The risk assessment is based on individuals wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force Risk Assessment Chart

Beaches in New Providence, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama will be closed at 10pm today until next week Monday at 5am.

Former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands referred to the assessment during his contribution to Parliament yesterday.

He said: “Mr. Speaker, going to the beach would be listed as low to moderate risk or moderate risk with a number of things that we do in The Bahamas, like working in an office building, swimming in a public pool, visiting elderly relatives or a friend if they’re home; eating in a restaurant, traveling by plane, playing basketball or working out in a gym — all of these things are allowed, are higher risk than going to the beach, provided that the appropriate social distancing and mask wearing when people are not in the water is maintained.”

Earlier in the morning session, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis asked Bahamians and residents to sacrifice three days for the good of the nation — a request the official opposition said a further infringement of civil liberties, not backed by scientific evidence.

But the prime minister said the measure was to prevent large gathering that could exposes Bahamians.

Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis called on the prime minister to have faith in the public, which has cooperated thus far, enabled the flattening of the curve of the virus.

Beaches were reopened after a three-month closure on June 29.

Commercial international carriers resumed routes to the nation of July 1 to mark its reopening.

Some quarters of the public have expressed concerns about the influx of visitors from the US where cases of the virus continue to surge.

Yesterday, Sands said: “Now, Mr. Speaker, we have an intimate relationship with a country to our north that is currently the epicenter of COVID-19 in the world,” the Elizabeth MP said.

“I speak of the United States of America which currently accounts for some 25 percent of all confirmed cases of COVID-19. In that country, they do not have the ability to do contact tracing in much of the southern part of the United States.”

He continued: “Today, we find ourselves looking at our biggest and closest trading partner, our greatest ally; our closest friend, but we realize that they are also our greatest risk.”

St Anne’s MP Brent Symonette also called on the government yesterday to provide a full explanation as to the closure, saying he still did not understand the reasoning.

As of yesterday, there were 106 confirmed cases — six of which were active.

Sands said continued testing, as recommended by the World Health Organization, is critical.

He said recommendations include antigen testing, molecular testing and anti-body testing — the latter of which has had challenges.