Health officials monitoring holiday celebrations, bracing for possible spike in cases

Health officials monitoring holiday celebrations, bracing for possible spike in cases

“We are not seeking to close our borders again as a country,” says Wells

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health Minister Renward Wells yesterday urged Bahamians to continue to abide by the health protocols and emergency orders throughout the remainder of the holiday season.

There have been fewer than 100 new COVID-19 cases recorded in The Bahamas in the past week.

As of Monday, COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 7,846, of which 1,444 remain active.

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

“I don’t want to jinx our situation in the country,” Wells told reporters outside Cabinet.

“I’m hoping that we do not enter a third wave. So far, the numbers have been very good in regards to COVID.

“…I’m just asking the Bahamian people, I know it’s a festive season, we know it’s a holiday season, we know you want to connect with family, but let’s do so in a way that is safe, so at the end of the day, all of us will be able to move through this period having the kind of festivities that we would need to and want to have and not have the blowback from not having done what we need to as a people.”

Wells noted that given the 14-day incubation period of the virus, health officials won’t be able to determine if there has been an uptick until the second week of January.

The Bahamas’ positivity rate has been below five percent over the past month, according to the health minister.

“We do have control of it in regards to community spread,” Wells added.

“But, as I said, we are monitoring our circumstance through this holiday.”

The Bahamas saw its first wave of COVID-19 cases back March and saw a second wave in July, after it reopened its borders to international travel.

Several new variants of the virus have emerged since the original outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

One new strain of the virus is currently surging in parts of the United Kingdom and has been detected in Canada this week.

Wells insisted that The Bahamas will not close its borders again, despite the new strains being seen globally.

He noted that while the latest strain of COVID-19 may be easier to spread, “the reality is it is not more variant or deadly than the current strain we have”.

“We are not seeking to close our borders again as a country,” he continued.

“The prime minister has spoken that we are in a phase where we are seeking to keep the economy open, keep the Bahamian people working and doing what we need to as a ministry of health, as a government, as a competent authority.”

 

Lockdown

Wells noted that if Bahamians were “naughty and not nice” during the holiday, that does not mean lockdown measures or restrictions will be implemented.

He noted the healthcare system, including contact tracing and surveillance teams, is being readied to deal with any potential surge.

“We are seeking to do all of the healthcare training protocols that are necessary without having to shut the country down,” Wells added.

“We only go to lockdowns when the spread, the positivity rate is so astronomical that we need to shut the nation down to get our hands on the virus.”