Cases trend since Nov 1. tourism reopening “promising”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes said yesterday that while new cases of the coronavirus in The Bahamas continue to be maintained in the single digits, there could still be a surge of cases stemming from the Thanksgiving holiday and associated travel in the days that followed.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Forbes said: “We’re still in the waiting period. Thanksgiving was the 25th of November. And that was exactly two weeks ago now. But we know that around that holiday weekend people traveled…
“So, essentially, we’re still in the waiting period. It’s generally two to three weeks — one incubation period and then the days following the incubation period where people will start to maybe have symptoms of COVID-19 or develop COVID-19 in the long end of the incubation period and if there is local transmission that should [be] clearer in just about two incubation periods.”
Fourteen days comprise one incubation period.
Forbes pointed out that with the Yuletide season comes increased travel.
When contacted, Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company officials confirmed travel has increased in November compared to the month before, and said there was an expectation for that trend to continue this month, as NAD observed “moderate” improvement.
According to Lynden Pindling International Airport Vice President of Marketing and Commercial Development Jan Knowles, officials were cautiously optimistic about the upcoming prospects with the continuation of low numbers of new cases of the virus and the possible approval and rollout of a vaccine early in the new year.
But Forbes noted that increased travel activity and local festivities from a health perspective could represent a change in the outbreak in the days and weeks to come.
“Essentially, we’re still within the first incubation period of 14 days or two weeks and if there will be local transmission and an uptick in cases associated with this holiday weekend, we would expect it in one to two incubation periods — two to four weeks after,” she said.
The Bahamas reopened its tourism on November 1.
The reopening saw a marketing push for travel to the archipelago.
Forbes was asked whether the reopening of tourism could be deemed successful five weeks after later.
“It looks like we’re more than a month out,” she said.
“So, there has not been an uptick in RT-PCR confirmed cases or hospitalizations.
“We’re still seeing declines in hospitalizations, daily numbers of cases, percent positives.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen, who has charge of border control and is part of the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit, was unable to say how many people traveled during the holiday weekend.
He advised that rapid antigen testing has not yet been incorporated in the daily COVID-19 reports.
The Bahamas recorded five new infections on Tuesday.
According to the COVID-19 dashboard, 140 tests were completed Tuesday.
Of the 7,585 cases recorded to date, 1,331 or 17 percent remain active while 79.5 percent have recovered.
A total of 163 people have died from the virus — a case mortality rate of around 2 percent.
Another 24 deaths remain under investigation.
As part of the holiday season, the competent authority — the prime minister — has authorized religious services to operate outside of the curfew hours between December 24 and January 3.
He also authorized a wide range of retail stores to operate on two Sundays this month — December 13 and December 20 — between 6am and 9pm to facilitate holiday shopping.