NO TIGHTENING JUST YET: Health minister expresses concern of rising cases, but says COVID indicators remain

NO TIGHTENING JUST YET: Health minister expresses concern of rising cases, but says COVID indicators remain

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Notwithstanding COVID-19 cases more than tripling in recent weeks, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville said the government is not minded to tighten any restrictions at this time, pointing to the low COVID-19 indicators such as hospitalizations.

As of Sunday, hospitalizations stood at 14, up from the nine hospitalized cases the day before.

The COVID-19 dashboard for Monday reflected a decrease of seven hospitalized cases.

“We’ve been watching the cases rise,” he said.

“We are concerned, always concerned when the cases go up. But one of the good things and a good report is that the cases in hospital are very low. Last week, the cases were about 11. This week it’s about 12.

“And that is across the board at Doctors Hospital, the Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital and the Sandilands Rehabilitation Center. That is good news for us. Our team [is] concerned about the numbers. but while that’s happening, we have no plans to tighten any restrictions at this time.”

Of the 23 infections recorded on Sunday, seven had a history of travel in the last 14 days.

Twenty-eight of the 63 cases last Friday were imported.

Despite low COVID hospitalizations, the minister said there continues to be a shortage of beds.

“As we speak right now, the hospital is challenged with cases that are not COVID related,” Darville said.

“We are working very diligently to sort those cases out and to deal with some of the backlogs that were in place at our tertiary facilities as a result of the impact of COVID 19.”

Eyewitness News has reported on the significant backlog with many awaiting surgeries.

Darville said the government was hopeful that the government will be able to lift the mask mandate.

“The situation is very fluid,” Darville told the media at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“We are in a relatively good position, despite the numbers going up and we will keep watching what’s happening internationally and our tourism sector and the amount of cases that’s coming in that are travel-related before any final decision would be made.”

Doses expiring

Darville was also asked about COVID-19 vaccine doses expiring as uptake remains sluggish.

“There are some vaccines that will approach expiration and we are concerned about that,” he said.

“It’s a problem across the region where we have a good supply of vaccines and really don’t have the response for vaccination uptake. For us, the situation in The Bahamas is good as relates to vaccines, and we’re encouraging Bahamians everywhere to come out to receive their first and second dose, as well as their first and second boosters.”

Darville said: “With that being said through PAHO and COVAX, we have the ability to acquire more vaccines as the need is necessary and we will continue to do so, and we’re doing everything in our power to convince Bahamians that we need to take our vaccination count from 51 percent to at least 70 percent, as recommended by WHO.”

He said if additional vaccines were acquired now, they would expire at the end of August, advising that the government will seek to acquire more doses in mid-August.

Darville was unable to say how many doses will expire but added that more information will be made available.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.