Healthcare officials caution this is not the time for Bahamians to relax measures
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials warned yesterday it is not the time for residents to residents to shirk emergency measures and socialize or gathering in groups.
Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme at the Ministry of Health Dr Nikkiah Forbes insisted that this could cause a resurgence of cases of COVID-19, and potentially undermine the sacrifice made to date.
As the country continues to shoulder a 24-hour curfew, some residents have opted to shirk emergency measures by staging lockdown parties.
“It’s a very bad idea,” Forbes told Eyewitness News.
“So, we know that persons are still susceptible to getting COVID-19; most Bahamians will not have an immunity to COVID-19 and we are also seeing cases in the community.
“We know we still have patients and persons out there with COVID-19 and gathering is going to increase the risk of transmission.
“It’s compounded by that fact that persons can be asymptomatic and spreading the virus.”
She continued: “It is not the time for that yet because it can lead to an increased number of cases and we are going need to notice numbers are going down, and the number of infections are going down, and that the time interval between new cases is going down significantly before we can even consider things like reducing restrictive measures.
“I know it’s been very long; it feels very long, but we kind of have to stay the course right now.”
A 22-year-old woman, who has been unable to work since March, told Eyewitness News she attended an unplanned pool gathering at a boutique hotel in western New Providence on Friday.
She said after strict adherence to the emergency orders, social distancing, 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdown for weeks, she felt bouts of depression and anxiety.
There have been reports of residents renting or seeking to rent short-term rental homes such as Airbnbs for the purpose of hosting lockdown gatherings.
Forbes said based on evidence locally, someone who interacts with an infected person unknowingly can expose dozens, if not hundreds of other people.
She referred to international reports of a 29-year-old man in South Korea who went to five different bars last weekend as restrictions were eased, and was later found to have been an asymptomatic carrier who potentially exposed 2,000 people to the virus.
“We know from contact tracing that people will come in contact with other people,” she said.
“We really advise against it.”
She continued: “We have to be very careful when we gather and have parties because it can spread coronavirus. There are other reports in other countries were salons and other gathering places can be associated with the spread of the virus.”
As of yesterday, there were 93 confirmed cases of the virus.
The latest case was confirmed yesterday after an 88-year-old woman tested positive.
There had been a three-day lull in new cases prior.
Gatherings of more than 10 people was banned in March.
Those restrictions were tightened after the introduction of the 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns, both of which remain in effect until the end of May.
Residents can only leave their homes for essential services or exempted businesses — a list that has grown in recent days — and only essential workers may leave their homes during lockdowns.
In an effort to curb the spread of the virus, public health officials have encouraged strict compliance with the emergency measures.