Over $150,000 spent so far, Sands says
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas’ response to the rapid global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is projected to cost the government in excess of $1 million, according to Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands.
There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in the country.
“We anticipate that all of the things we need to do, given the kinds of scenarios that we’ve have been advised we might have to expect, could cost more than $1 million, and we have spent to date, more than $150,000,” said Sands.
That cost to date represents expenses relating to the isolation unit at Lynden Pindling International Airport; security, quarantine meals, personal protective equipment, testing capacity, among other things.
To date, 19 people have been quarantined.
Four Bahamian residents remain in local quarantine after being exposed on February 14 while traveling domestically in Canada on an Air Canada flight.
A passenger on that flight tested positively for the COVID-19.
However, the Bahamian residents in question have shown no signs of any respiratory disease.
Dr Indira Martin, who heads the Bahamas National Reference Laboratory, confirmed the capacity to test for the Coronavirus as of Tuesday.
According to Sands, this capacity “strengthens our ability to respond to this emerging public health threat”.
When asked whether The Bahamas plans to follow suit with countries such as Britain, which has begun random testing people with flu symptoms in 11 hospitals and 100 general medical offices, the health minister said the ministry does not plan to random test as it has to be judicious with its resources.
“Bear in mind that the entire world has a limited supply of nCoV-19 tests,” the minister said.
“They have run out of them in China for instance; in some parts of China.
“You’ve got to be judicious and only test when appropriate because bear in mind that even as you’ve seen 2,700 deaths in the last two months from COVID-19, in that time you’ve had some almost 100,000 deaths from Influenza — between 75,000 and 100,000 deaths. The symptoms are very similar.
“The overwhelming majority of people come in with flu like symptoms, cough, fever do not have Coronavirus, they have Influenza.
“You can’t just be indiscriminate because you don’t have the resources; these tests cost money; and if you waste it, when you need it you won’t have it.”
According to leading international healthcare agencies, including the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, the incubation period for the virus is between two and 14 days.
However, there has been acknowledgment of “possible outliers” ranging up to 27 days based on certain cases.
A man who was infected with COVID-19 in China’s central Hubeir Province did not show signs until 27 days later, according to the local government.
Yesterday, Sands reminded the public the government has used 20 days for border control.
He also pointed out that non-residents who have been in in China up to 20 days before arrival in The Bahamas are denied entry.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is possible that Coronavirus may be detectable in the upper or lower respiratory tract for weeks after illness onset, similar to infection with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV; however, detection of viral CoV2 does not “necessarily mean that infectious virus is present”.
As of this week, there were more than 81,000 confirmed cases worldwide — over 30,000 cases were recovered while 2,770 people have died.
In an advisory yesterday, the Ministry of Health recommended frequent, thorough washing of hands and the use of sanitizer; covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing; thoroughly cooking meat and eggs; cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces and objects and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.