PM says don’t panic as virus classified a pandemic
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan and Organization for Responsible Governance Executive Director Matt Aubry have been named co-chairs of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19.
The committee is comprised of a cross section of civil society stakeholders and government representatives.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister read: “In addition to serving as a coordination and steering committee, the NCCC will also engage with the COVID-19 multi-governmental agency task force to implement decision of The Bahamas government, recommend policies to the Cabinet and provide sector and society impacted analysis and feedback to Cabinet, as applicable.”
Government committee members include, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister David Davis; Ministry of Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu, and Director of Education Marcellus Taylor.
Central Bank of The Bahamas Governor John Rolle, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander, Bahamas Maritime Authority Chair Denise Lewis-Johnson, Downtown Nassau Partnership Director Ed Field, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Chair Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association President Carlton Russell, Doctors Hospital Health System President Dr. Charles Diggiss, National Congress of Trade Unions President Bernard Evans make up civil society and stakeholder representatives.
As part of its preparedness and response to the globally spreading virus, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced last Monday the government will establish a committee to help combat the “grave threat” COVID-19 represents to The Bahamas.
Speaking to reporters today, the prime minister said he met this morning with the committee, which presented a proposal to him.
He said he planned to brief Cabinet on the committee’s discussions and recommendations at 3 pm.
“Their goal and objective is like ours; maintain [a] Coronavirus free environment; to reassure the populous and those visiting our shores that they are safe; they must still take the necessary precautions in terms of hand washing; and whatever else; and be assured that the government is doing all it can and using all of our resources necessary to ensure that we remain at that status ,” the prime minister said on the sidelines of a ceremony at the New Providence Ecology Park, formerly known as the New Providence Landfill.
The Office of the Prime Minister is expected to name the second co-chair this afternoon.
Earlier today, the World Health Organization officially classified the COVID-19 as a pandemic, saying it is “deeply concerned” by the rate of the spread and severity, and by the “alarming levels on inaction”.
Minnis said he had hoped the WHO would make the classification some time ago as the virus rapidly spread across the globe.
Globally, there have been more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries and 4,291 have died.
As it relates to The Bahamas, the prime minister said he is satisfied with efforts made to date to prepare the nation.
Social media posts purporting to have information of a confirmed case of the virus in The Bahamas continue to make the rounds.
Health officials directly debunked some of these posts this morning, while maintaining there were no suspected, reported or confirmed cases in The Bahamas to date.
Minnis suggested there is no need to panic.
“Again, reassuring the Bahamian populous there is no case of Coronavirus recorded here and they must continue with their normal lives,” he said. “However, still take all the necessary precautions in terms of hygiene [practices].”
The prime minister said officials have also been monitoring for price gouging as shoppers prepare in anticipation of the health threat.
He said: “If we detect any, we will deal with that appropriately by the law, but we will not tolerate it. Absolutely not.”
This article was updated from its original version at 5:30 pm.