NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Newly appointed Minister of Health Renward Wells today likened COVID-19 to “Satan” as he moved to second a resolution to extend the state of emergency and emergency powers in The Bahamas.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Wells said the public could expect a full update from him, and the prime minister on the new infections confirmed in the country this week.
Health officials have not released details for the majority of new infections confirmed in the country this week.
The last time officials released case details was on July 18, with limited details on some cases provided in yesterday’s update.
Since then, there have been 81 new cases.
However, Wells provided few details during his address today.
“During the four months that our borders were closed, only 104 COVID-19 cases were confirmed. In the two-week period since the opening of our borders, the number of cases has more than doubled,” he said.
Wells said there are currently 115 active cases, 14 of which required hospitalisation.
To date, 3,759 tests have been conducted for COVID-19.
“Our cases are distributed among the following islands: Grand Bahama, 73; New Providence, 32; Bimini, four; Berry Islands, four; and Cat Island, two,” he said.
The health minister said officials are aware of other cases that will be included in today’s COVID-19 Dashboard.
He said his 79-year-old aunt, his 37-year-old cousin, and her 21-year-old daughter, are among the COVID-19 numbers.
“In summary, the majority of our new cases are directly or indirectly as a result of Bahamians’ and residents’ international travel,” Wells said.
Wells noted health system capacity remains limited, notwithstanding accommodations for COVID-19 care at Doctors Hospital West, as well as repurposing the community clinic at South Beach.
He said government has accelerated efforts to shore up the healthcare system, among them renovating the medical infrastructure in New Providence and Grand Bahama, particularly.
Wells said the government’s response to the ongoing pandemic has been “proactive and exemplary”.
“We are now in a surge, which will get worse if we do not adhere to restrictive and public health measures, which must not be taken for granted,” Wells said.
“This virus is much like Satan, roaming to and fro, seeking whom he may devour. We must do all that we can to save lives and avert countless infections with an aggressive and proactive offence.
“The devil is busy, Mr. Speaker, and the church is encouraged to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’.”
Wells noted the human, infrastructural, and technological foundations of the country’s health system were challenged before the pandemic.
He said the global pandemic has compounded an already strenuous situation on the heels of Hurricane Dorian, adding he has seen first-hand how many have struggled with mental health.
He noted newly formed local and international mental health alliances continue to maintain its presence and activity in respect of COVID-19, providing virtual access to mental health services and support.
Wells expressed confidence in the wealth of experience and knowledge of his health team, stating the country will “win the day”.
“This is no game,” he said.
“Our freedoms are the products of ancestral blood, sweat, tears, and determination. Restricting those freedoms is not easy to mandate or to endure. Hence, even while curtailed, we have allowed many of those liberties. All of us want to see the back of COVID-19. We pray that Yahweh Rapha would hasten the healing of our nation and our world.”
Wells continued: “As a government, we have had to employ restrictive measures across the entire Bahamas. We were forced to re-impose those measures in Bimini, and now we have done so in Grand Bahama. The reality is that, for other islands, we may have to employ the same offensive measures for the greater good.
“God is our guide. The scripture says ‘a very present help in times of trouble’. We press on with Him as master of our vessel. For as one songwriter wrote, with Christ in the vessel, we can surely smile at any storm.”
He added: “I second this resolution that supports our acts and expressions of humanity. We are all called to be our brothers’ keepers.”
Wells said the Ministry of Health will continually keep the public abreast of the changing dynamics and fluid situation related to COVID-19.