Opposition leader says death of Bimini COVID-19 patient has “undermined” public confidence in govt’s ability to manage cases on Family Islands
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday made an impassioned plea for the government to do its “damndest” to provide relief and rescue every distressed resident amid continued COVID-19 emergency measures.
Referring to Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar suggestion last week that the government cannot “rescue everyone from this crisis”, Davis said the government has an obligation to do just that.
He said the remark has sparked concerns “friends and family of people high up will go to the front of the line” when it comes to assistance and relief.
“…It is the morale obligation of this government to try their damndest to do just that,” Davis said.
“We have to try. We cannot surrender.
“We cannot surrender to this enemy that we face by throwing up our arms and saying the government cannot rescue everyone from this crises.
“It is our morale obligation to try our utmost to do so, and as you have acknowledged prime minister, Bahamians understand very well that there are resource constraints.
“They understand. This cannot be another situation where Bahamians wonder that the friends and family of people high up go to the front of the line.
“This virus does no discriminate and neither should this government in deciding who should get relief.
“That’s the inference that can be drawn to the suggestion that we can’t help everyone.”
A complete shutdown of all businesses, with the exception of essential businesses and services will begin tomorrow at 9pm.
The measure will come to an end next week Tuesday at 5am.
Thereafter, a complete lockdown will occur every Friday at 9pm through Monday at 5am until the end of April.
While Davis encouraged public support of the measure to prevent the surge of COVID-19 cases, he expressed concern about certain “unfair” public policies, namely, whether certain businesses were getting preferential treatment.
“These orders have left Bahamians in a bad way,” the PLP leader said.
“I am not talking about looking forward to a time of hurt.
“I am talking about now where people are already hurting
“Many Bahamians live paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings.
“When jobs are gone, a lot of other things are gone too — food, lights, security and dreams.
“When night falls, there are a lot of people tossing and turning.
“They are in a terrible situation through no fault of their own.”
Davis said the packages the government has announced are welcomed, but given the extremity of the needs of the people it may not be enough.
Davis called the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian, and the current threat of COVID-19, an “especially cruel blow” to The Bahamas.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was expected to have a teleconference with Family Islands administrators this afternoon.
Davis, the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador, said many Family Island residents wonder if they have been forgotten.
He said the unfortunate loss of Kim Johnson-Rolle, a Bimini resident who tested positive for the virus and became the first COVID-19 death in the country, has “undermined public confidence in how this pandemic is being managed in our Family Islands”.
Today, the prime minister announced the defense has mobilized to provider greater oversight of the Family Islands.
Davis said this was welcomed news.
“If someone is suspected of contracting COVID-19, what measures are in place to keep them isolated from the rest of the community?
“If, Heaven forbid, there is widespread community outbreak on any island, what plans are in place to ensure a rapid response?”
There have been five COVID-19 deaths and 29 confirmed cases — 23 in New Providence, five in Grand Bahama and one in Bimini.
Davis recommended the deployment a larger defense ship to act as a sickbay for the northern islands in emergency situations as a stopgap measure.