FNM touts pandemic response, says Minnis administration is “focused”

FNM touts pandemic response, says Minnis administration is “focused”

“Our prime minister knows more work needs to be done”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — On the heels of the country recording its lowest single-day total of COVID-19 cases since the second wave began in July, the Free National Movement (FNM) yesterday issued a statement touting the progress made in the fight against the disease.

“From the outset, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis prioritized the health and safety of all
Bahamians as we fought this global pandemic,” it stated.

“He understands that a sustainable reopening of our economy will come with successful implementation of life-saving safety protocols. Recent data show this leadership is getting results.

“After implementing containment measures, we have seen reported cases drop to single digits several times over the past eight days — an encouraging trend we want to continue.”

On Tuesday, December 1, the country recorded just two new cases of COVID-19, both of which originated from New Providence, and had a positivity rate of just over one percent — well below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of five percent.

There have been a total of 163 COVID-related deaths, with another 23 classified as “under investigation”.

The country remains in a public state of emergency, which Parliament last week passed a resolution to extend to January 31, 2020. Under the state of emergency, the country has faced curfews, lockdowns and other restrictive measures intended to curb community spread of COVID-19.

Members of the official opposition have been critical of some aspects of the measures, with Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip Brave Davis slamming the recent extension as “unnecessary”.

Tuesday evening, the competent authority also signed new emergency orders that moderately eased some of the restrictions that were in place.

“The pandemic is raging in other countries,” the FNM statement continued. “We have contained the latest surge because Bahamians came together to enact and follow protocols that save lives as the prime minister called for. Preventing the spread is helping position the country for the road ahead.”

The FNM pointed to a focus on restoring the economy, which has suffered a major blow with the global decline in tourism as a result of the pandemic, and also highlighted the government’s efforts to provide food and financial assistance to those suffering from the resulting economic fallout.

The prime minister earlier this year appointed an Economic Recovery Committee (ERC) to make recommendations to Cabinet on the long-term economic recovery of the Bahamas economy. The ERC submitted an executive summary report in October, however, it is unclear whether those recommendations will be implemented.

A National Food Distribution Task Force was also tasked with providing food assistance to Bahamians in need during the crisis, with an additional $10 million recently being allocated towards the initiative just last month.

The National Insurance Board (NIB) has also doled out “historic amounts” of benefits to Bahamians who have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

However, during the crisis, the Minnis administration has also seen the resignation of two Cabinet ministers and most recently an NIB executive.

Elizabeth MP Dr Duane Sands resigned as minister of health in May after accepting responsibility for what Minnis termed “a breach of protocol” amid the country’s border closure.

East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest resigned as deputy prime minister and minister of finance last week amid untested allegations of his involvement in a $30 million “bogus loan” scheme — an allegation he has denied.

And on Monday, Dr Nicola Virgill-Rolle resigned as NIB director to become the next executive director of Lyford Cay Foundation.

Neither a new minister of finance nor new NIB director have been named as yet, although the government has indicated appointments will be forthcoming.

The FNM in its statement said, “Our prime minister knows more work needs to be done to lift people up and he’s committed to lead that effort.

“Our FNM government will continue to prioritize the health of all Bahamians while pressing onward with job growth, infrastructure improvements and better education because we know Bahamians deserve nothing less from our elected leaders.”