NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Progressive Liberal Party’s COVID-19 task force is calling on the government to partner with local telecommunications providers to develop a cell phone app that would track individuals in quarantine or isolation at home.
The task force said it believes many people in self-quarantine were not following the protocols and still interacting with the public.
It called for the mandatory government isolation of all positive COVID-19 patients, and outlined recommendations to boost contact tracing efforts in a report released today.
Among those recommendations are plans for telecommunication providers Aliv and BTC to provide technology and infrastructure to assist monitoring.
“The government must work with BTC and Aliv to develop a cellular screening app to monitor persons in self-quarantine, to trace their whereabouts and if the phone is turned off, that could mean a breach in the agreement forcing that person into a government quarantine facility,” it stated.
“We are also advocating for the government to establish stricter protocols for individuals to be able to self-quarantine. For example, attention should be paid to the home environment, house size, water and electricity, the overall hygiene and number of occupants in the home.
“We are still not sure of the testing protocols for those in quarantine but recommend that all be tested at some point during the possible incubation period. Those who have tested positive should be immediately referred to the contact tracing team, and the algorithm continued.”
The task force suggested the government utilize a “hotel-like a facility with a cafeteria and adequate toilet facility”, adding the state must also be prepared to house and feed them for up to a month.
The party’s task force also renewed demands for officials to aggressively increase random testing as part of strategic initiatives to manage the crisis.
To this end, it suggested the government partner with private laboratories in Grand Bahama to decentralize testing for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“To date, just under 500 people have been tested,” the report stated.
“With a current population size of approximately 394,000, this represents less than one eighth (492.50) of one percent of the population (3,940). This is far too low of a sample size to get an accurate idea of the effect of COVID-19 as it relates to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”
The report noted the government has approximately 4,000 molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits and over 10,000 serological test kits in their possession.
It continued: “Understanding the government’s fear about challenges with flow chains and the complicated logistics to get more molecular tests and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s), we must aggressively increase random testing.
“This increase will not only assist with flattening the curve but will increase the probability of getting ahead of the curve. More of these tests should be done in Nassau and Grand Bahama.”
The report suggests the government partners with Lucayan Medical or Sunrise Medical to build the capacity for molecular PCR testing and assist with training for the quick serological test.
It also raised concerns about the gender disparity among positive cases, noting 61 percent of cases are women.
As for contact tracing, the PLP task force estimated the country needs 320 workers based on teams in Wuhan.
It noted that model placed 45 contact tracing workers in Grand Bahama, 10 in Bimini and 265 in New Providence.
The task force suggested the government utilize the Department of Statistics to recruit a pool of semi-skilled workers who have experience in data collection.
“That experience could be augmented with training from the Ministry of Health contact tracing team in the short term to advance the current COVID-19 surveillance unit,” the report stated.