Darville: Govt. not “inclusive, or receptive” to PLP feedback

Darville: Govt. not “inclusive, or receptive” to PLP feedback
Opposition Health spokesman Dr Michael Darville

PLP Senator says health officials, govt. have adopted PLP recommendations without credit

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Senator Dr Michael Darville last night labeled Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ call for the opposition to be guided by a “patriotic spirit”, more rhetoric, insisting that the government has not been inclusive or reception to feedback from the opposition amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, Minnis said he hopes the opposition will be guided by a broad-based patriotic spirit, as he announced that some decisions ahead will be uncomfortable and “will be painful”.

During a broadcasted COVID-19 briefing at PLP headquarters of Farrington Road, Darville, a member of the PLP’s COVID-19 task force, said: “While we wait for this much needed bipartisan approach in the fight against COVID-19, our team of young professionals have been hard at work reviewing and assessing the challenges we face as a country regarding this pandemic and offering sound evidence-based advice to the government on ways we can protect our citizens and residents against this virus.

Darville contended that the task force submitted specific recommendations on policy and protocol reform, noting in recent times some of the recommendations have been included in the medical task force’s action plan “without credit”.

Last month, the PLP taskforce called on the government to partner with local telecommunications providers to develop a cell phone app that would track individuals in quarantine or isolation at home.

The measure was recommended amid concerns quarantined individuals at home were not following the strict guidelines to isolate from the public.

It was revealed last week that 12 people, who had completed the 14 days isolation at home, could not be located for retesting.As health officials addressed the issue, health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Merceline Dahl Regis announced the Ministry of Health intends to sign an agreement for the use of an application for verification of those in quarantine.

The app is expected to alarm where there is a violation of the set perimeter.

Meanwhile, Darville said while the evidence demonstrates that curfew, lockdowns, social distancing, and other protective hygiene measures combined help to flatten the curve, he suggested the “draconian approach” of lockdowns and curfews in place are not sustainable.

He said the implementation of additional public health measures and protocols are essential to get ahead of the virus and begin the process of gradually opening and rebuilding the economy.

Last Monday, The Bahamas moved to ‘Phase 1B’ of the government’s six-phase plan to reopen the economy. This new phase saw increased commercial activity across the nation, and a number of southern island where the virus has not presented itself return to full commercial activity.

Darville said as the economic challenges mount, COVID-19 remains a real threat with asymptomatic carriers still among Bahamian communities.

He said despite this, there must be calculated steps to reopen the economy while remaining mindful of what other jurisdictions have done to introduce workable protocols to mitigate the threat of a resurgence of cases.

He encouraged increased testing, something the government has sought to do.

As of yesterday, over 1,600 people had been tested.

Darville said the PLP’s task force will continue to advocate for increased testing, calling the country’s response “sluggish” in this regard.

As it relates to the economy, Darville acknowledged the road will be “rough, and many uncomfortable decisions will have to be made” — similar words echoed by the prime minister during a national address Sunday.

He recommended the immediate isolation of all asymptomatic carriers and the quarantine of their social contacts.

The task force, which was formed in March, has recommended involving the private sector to increase testing capacity; testing at least one percent of the population with an aim to increasing testing to 10 percent; expanding the resources of the Surveillance Unit for contact tracing; among other measures.

As of yesterday, there were 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.