EWNEWS SPECIAL REPORT: Bahamas’ COVID-19 case per capita low in region, but case fatality rate notably higher

EWNEWS SPECIAL REPORT: Bahamas’ COVID-19 case per capita low in region, but case fatality rate notably higher

Cayman Islands has seven times higher case rate than The Bahamas

WHO: Global mortality rate at 3.4 percent

Health minister: “Every death is one too many”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While The Bahamas’ cases per capita of COVID-19  are on par with most of its Caribbean neighbors, its case fatality rate (CFR) appears notably higher than other countries where deaths have occurred.

The finding comes from an analysis of cases of COVID-19 in the country in comparison to 16 countries in the region.

In its situation report, dated April 2, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) provided COVID-19 data on 16 member-states, including The Bahamas.

As of March 25, there were five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

As of April 3, cases had climbed to 24.

Three patients, who tested positive for the virus, died as of April 2.

With a population of around 385,000, according to the World Bank, it can be calculated that The Bahamas has just over six cases per 100,000 people.

However, The Bahamas’ case fatality rate — the number of COVID-19 patients who have died —  was 12.5 percent at the tine.

This was more than double the CFR rate of the countries CDEMA with reported deaths have occurred up to the same point.

As of Sunday, cases in The Bahamas climbed to 29 and the number of deaths rose to five; placing the CFR at just under 18 percent.

The Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tobago were the only other member-states to have recorded COVID-19 deaths, according to CDEMA’s situation report.

It noted; however, that there were 1,926 cases spread across 32 countries in the region.

As of last Wednesday, the Cayman Islands had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death.

With a population of just over 64,000, its cases per capita was 44 per 100,000 — seven times greater than that of The Bahamas’ and Trinidad and Tobago’ where 24-hour curfews and social distancing orders exist.

The Cayman Island’s CFR was 3.5 percent.

According to local reports, the Cayman Islands closed its borders on March 23 and introduced a 9pm to 5am curfew on March 24 following two confirmed cases of the virus.

In Trinidad and Tobago, there were 90 confirmed cases of the virus, and five deaths as of April 2.

According to the World Bank, the population of the island is 1.389 million people, giving the country a COVID-19 rate of 6.5 cases per 100,000 people.

With five deaths among the 90 patients, its case fatality rate is 5.5 percent.

A 24-hour curfew was implemented on March 29.

Meanwhile, use of public transportation has been reduced by 50 percent, according to CDEMA’s report.

St. Kitts and Nevis, which has a population of just over 53,000 people, had nine confirmed cases as last Thursday.

This places its cases at 17 per 100,000 people — almost triple that of The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago.

The country closed its airports and seaports on March 25, and non-essential services and schools remain closed.

CDEMA put Jamaica’s confirmed cases at 47 as of last Wednesday.

However, the country recorded another six cases last Thursday, according to the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, who was quoted in the Jamaican Observer.

With its population of just under 2.93 million people, Jamaica’s case rate is two per 100,000 people.

The analysis on cases per capita does not take into consideration the extent of testing or mass testing for COVID-19 carried out in each of the respective countries CDEMA listed.

Additionally, as pointed out by Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands when contacted for comment, while simple observations can be made from existing data, it is limited due to a small sample of cases and changing variables.

One such variable is the death rate, which is age specific.

When asked whether there was concern about the death rate, Sands said: “We are in the surge. Every death is one too many. We have expressed concern repeatedly.”

Based on the rate of increase to date in The Bahamas, former Chief Medical Officer Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis said there could be as many as 35 cases of COVID-19 in the next two weeks — a trend she called “alarming”.

Around the world

Globally, there have been over 1.2 million cases.

The death toll has soared to over 69,000.

According to international reports, countries such as Germany had a low case fatality rate of just over one percent — nearly 85,000 cases and just over 1,100 deaths — well below its European neighbors.

Italy’s CFR was 11 percent at the end of March — almost nine times higher than Germany.

According to data cross referenced from Italy and China, the CFR rate among older people is higher — 14.8 percent among COVID-19 patients over 80, compared to 3.6 percent death rate among patients aged between 60 and 69.

In the United States, Louisiana’s CFR rate was 4.2 percent — one of the highest in the nation, compared to California’s 2.1 percent.

As of March 3, the World Health Organization estimated the global mortality rate at 3.4 percent among COVID-19 patients.

The mortality rate in China as of February 20 was 3.8 percent nationwide, 5.8 percent in Wuhan and 0.7 percent in other areas.

An American Medical Association study of 138 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, published on February 7, found that 26 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients required admission to hospitals’ Intensive Care Units and 4.3 percent died.

In The Bahamas, seven of the 24 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, meaning 29 percent of patients have required hospitalization.

The three patients who died were at the hospital, putting the mortality rate among hospitalized patients at 4.2 percent.

A 57-year-old Bimini woman died at Princess Margaret Hospital this week.

The two other patients who died were a man, 79, and woman, 67.