GB UPDATE: No downward trend yet, lockdown extended

GB UPDATE: No downward trend yet, lockdown extended
Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Health officials today advised that a downward trend in COVID-19 cases has not yet been established on Grand Bahama, forcing an extension of the island’s lockdown.

Dr Frank Bartlett, coordinator of the Grand Bahama Health Services COVID-19 Task Force, provided an update on island at a press conference today.

Bartlett said challenges are also present with the manning of multiple sites, adding patients in the second wave are being hospitalized for longer periods when compared to the first wave.

He said the island’s healthcare system will be overwhelmed if there is an increase in sicker or critical patients, adding these factors led to the recommendation for the lockdown period to be extended.

Bartlett said there are 900 people in quarantine in Grand Bahama, and 310 people in isolation.

There are five positive COVID-19 cases who are hospitalized, he said.

To date, 1,038 swabs have been done.

Bartlett said: “There is still no strict compliance with the public health and social distancing measures in place; daily, patients are accessing the healthcare system complaining of symptoms compatible with Covid; challenges with response to increased hospitalizations impacted by hospitalizations for Covid suspects are surpassing non-Covid patients; ICU bed capacity has been at 100% for the past month with non-Covid patients, and if we were to see an increase in sicker or critical patients the healthcare system will be overwhelmed.”

The update today was provided in a statement released by Bahamas Information Services.

The statement did not address the sickout of at least 20 nurses this morning.

Rand Memorial Hospital administrator Sharon Williams confirmed to Eyewitness News today that the hospital has activated its contingency plan to call in nurses that are off duty, and to employ overtime to remediate any shortfalls.

During the GB press conference, Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson announced the island’s lockdown has been extended to August 19.

The prime minister’s latest emergency order advised Grand Bahama’s lockdown order had been repealed, effectively placing the island under the same rules as the rest of the country.

That order was released late Tuesday night, and remains in effect until August 19 at 5am.

Under the previous order, Grand Bahama’s current two-week lockdown was slated to end tomorrow morning at 5am.

At the press conference, Thompson said the extension is an effort to slow and control community spread of the COVID-19 pandemic on Grand Bahama.

Thompson noted 336 cases were recorded for the island as of Wednesday, August 5.

According to Thompson, the Grand Bahama Food Task Force has distributed 5,366 vouchers assisting thousands of Grand Bahamians.

He said 1,202 vouchers were distributed today.

Thompson said: “I want to urge the residents of Grand Bahama and across the entire Bahamas to follow the guidelines that have been put in place for their protection and the protection of their family members and loved ones.”

“People should not be leaving their homes unless they must, and even with the lockdown there are still too many cars on the streets.

“An extension of the lockdown is not something that would have been preferred, but it is absolutely necessary. We must work together to stop the spread of the virus on Grand Bahama,” Thompson said.

Thompson urged residents to view the complete list of exempted businesses and services of the Emergency (Covid 19 Pandemic) (Lockdown) Order, 2020 on opm.gov.bs.

Information can also be found on the government’s Facebook and Instagram platforms.

Information may be provided at the following numbers: WhatsApp 727-2473; Help Desk, 727-8119, 727-0993, 727-0837, and 727-0836 or emailing opmgbinfocenter@bahamas.gov.bs.