Contact tracing search expands surrounding COVID-19 patient
Lockdown of hospital to facilitate additional infection and prevention control protocols
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen confirmed last night the woman who tested positively for the coronavirus (COVID-19) after presenting at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) also visited the Fleming Street Clinic on Deveaux Street last week.
Brennen, who appeared as a guest of ILTV’s “Beyond the Headlines” with host Clint Watson, said health officials were satisfied that all of the necessary protocols were followed when the patient visited.
Eyewitness News reported Monday that doctors and nurses stationed at the clinic and the Accident and Emergency Department of PMH were asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
“While in the facility they did receive the appropriate care and the appropriate approach,” Brennen said.
“So, the patient did have a mask on; was placed in isolation; however, we ended up closing the clinic for multiple purposes — one, to clean as was mentioned, but another one was actually so that we could have a meeting with the staff, letting them know that their approach to the patient was appropriate.
“But finding out was there anyone who may have come into contact with the patient, who didn’t necessarily have the appropriate personnel protective equipment on – even though our assumption is most people did. But we need to make sure; allay their fears to let them know who may have been at risk and needed self quarantine, and that most people were fine and didn’t need any additional precautionary measures.”
Brennen said health officials were monitoring the situation closely and those who may have had any exposure to ensure it prepared to deal with any “mushrooming issues from there”.
The Fleming Street clinic came under scrutiny last week after a viral video purported to show healthcare professionals abandoning their posts due to fears an ill-patient had COVID-19.
Last Wednesday, video footage of the clinic showed staff standing outside wearing masks last Wednesday.
The video prompted fears among quarters of the public about a potential case; however, later that day, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands advised that patient had tested negative for COVID-19.
Brennen reaffirmed the incident and ensuing videos, which made the rounds on social media, was not related to the patient who visited the clinic and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, becoming The Bahamas’ first case.
Surveillance teams were conducting “aggressive contact tracing” to determine the extent of exposure the woman had after presenting to PMH last Friday.
Last night, Brennen said that investigation has led to additional people being placed under self-quarantine.
He said none on those people have exhibited symptoms of the virus.
“We continue to — in larger concentric circles — to say, okay, we know who her immediate contacts were and as we get in contact with them and place them into quarantine, we do some testing of contacts,” Brennen said.
“And if, we don’t find an index patient in that grouping, then we find out who they may have been in contact with or even widen the circle for her to say where else might [she] have been, so that we can start to address those other areas.”
The contact tracing has covered approximately 25 people, including relatives, and healthcare providers, Brennen said.
Of those people, none have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 as of Monday.
He said that search is expected to continue until an index patient is located or that search is so wide “that it is impossible at that point to figure who may have been in contact with her and passed it onto her”.
The patient in question, who is in isolation at PMH, had no travel history in the last 20 days.
According to Brennen, she has been recovering well.
Noting that 80 percent of those who contract COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms, Brennen said health officials have widened testing as it continues its “search mission”.
As it relates to PMH’s “lockdown” Monday, Brennen advised that the facility is “transitioning” to ensure there is the appropriate isolation facilities in places; control over who moves in and out and additional security, and infection and prevention control scenarios in place.
He said: “We’re really trying to get our handle around what’s going on right now before we start slackening our procedures. We don’t want inadvertently for someone to end up in an area where they could be infected or they may come in contact with someone who is infected and then we can have a snowball affect, where that person passed onto another; and another; and it become a bigger issue.
As of Monday evening, there are more than 180,000 cases of COVID-19.
More than 7,000 people have died from the disease.