MAKING ROOM FOR THE ILL: PMH bed capacity increases to 131 amid rising COVID hospitalizations

MAKING ROOM FOR THE ILL: PMH bed capacity increases to 131 amid rising COVID hospitalizations
Princess Margaret Hospital.

COVID-19 positivity rate at 21 percent

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health Renward Wells advised yesterday that The Bahamas has increased its bed capacity to 131 amidst growing cases of COVID-19 in the country.

As he seconded a resolution in Parliament to extend the state of emergency and emergency orders to November 13, Wells noted that all COVID-19 indicators are trending up and multiple islands are recording new cases weekly and daily.

“All COVID-19 care facilities are currently experiencing a sustained and increasing demand for COVID-19 beds,” he said.

Health Minister Renward Wells in Parliament on August 11, 2021.

“While this is a statistic we wish to reverse, our response to the need is something that can be touch and felt.”

The health minister indicated that 13 additional beds will be available at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in the Male Surgical and in two weeks, 15 beds, two isolation rooms and two observation rooms will come on stream in the Old Operating Theatre at the hospital to help meet the increasing demand for bed space.

Wells also advised that between April 2021 and July 2021, the number of COVID-19 beds expanded by 31 beds.

He added that of the 131 COVID-19 beds available in the country, 107 have the requisite staff to care for patients assigned to those beds.

The health minister explained that the COVID-19 positivity rate has climbed from a low of three percent in February 2021 to a high of 21 percent up to yesterday, which far exceeds the five percent or less recommend by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The health minister said the Bahamas National Reference Laboratory has continued its screening for mutations in COVID-19 positive samples, though the country currently does not have the capacity to determine which variant may be present.

Wells said officials continue to await the results of an additional 100 samples taken between May and July and sent to the FIOCRUZ Brazil Laboratory for genomic sequencing.

He added: “While we await results, the surge in new cases and hospitalizations which occurred beginning four weeks ago and the increase in new cases over the four-week period of 147 percent far outpaced the increase of the four-week period leading to the peak of the second wave, which was just 48 percent. This suggests something different is occurring in country.”

Wells noted that New Providence continues to record the highest percentage of cases, followed by Grand Bahama in a distant second, and then Eleuthera, Exuma, Abaco and Bimini.

The country confirmed 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, taking the number of cases in the country to 16,011 with 2,584 active.

Health officials also confirmed two new COVID-related deaths, including a 56-year-old man who died on August 6 and a 65-year-old man who died on August 10.

The number of COVID-19 deaths now stands at 310, with another 38 under investigation.

Wells advised that while the ministry publishes reports on RT-PCR positive cases, new infections from rapid antigen tests are also increasing, which is concerning.

He said officials have observed a number of sites where people are carrying out unauthorized antigen testing.

The health minister noted that letters have already been sent to a number of those sites, urging them to get authorized through the Ministry of Health, and further urged other organizations to do the same.

About Sloan Smith Sloan has spent the past four years as a lead news writer immersed in the field, covering a range of investigative breaking news developments. She produces daily salient pieces on natural disasters, crime, politics, policy, human-interest, and socioeconomic realities.