PM: Coronavirus presents “grave concern”

PM: Coronavirus presents “grave concern”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis
  • Govt. to establish national coordinating committee

  • Health officials assure of ability to contain, combat virus

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The globally spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) represents a grave threat to the safety and security of The Bahamas, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

However, the prime minister assured The Bahamas is capable of containing and combating the virus, and is actively shoring up its health institutions in preparation for the potential threat.

“As a husband, father and grandfather, the outbreak of COVID-19 is a matter of grave concern,” Minnis said at a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“As a doctor it is equally concerning.

“I have instructed this government and its health officials in particular to do everything in our power to combat, communicate and if needed, contain this health risk.”

As pointed out by health officials, there are no suspected, reported or confirmed cases of the virus in The Bahamas.

Twenty-eight people have been quarantined to date, but have all been released after showing no symptoms of the virus over the 14-day inoculation period.

As has been widely reported, common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Health officials recommend regular handing washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing or sneezing.

Minnis acknowledged the increased spread of the virus globally, with cases being confirmed in countries 64 countries.

He said the government will not take any chances with this serious public health threat.

“I want to be clear, when it comes to public health threats, the government will not take any chances,” the prime minister said.

“We take this outbreak very seriously. We will utilize the resources necessary to ensure the safety of all Bahamians and residents.

“Public health is an absolute priority.”

According to the prime minister, the Ministry of Health has developed a national preparedness and response plan to ensure readiness and response to the virus in the event in affects The Bahamas.

He announced the government will establish a national coordinating committee that will include relevant civil society stakeholders and government representatives.

He did not indicate when that commitment will be established.

The prime minister also advised that he spoke to other CARICOM heads of government via video conference to discuss the regional management of the virus.

He said this included strengthening existing protocols for seaports, and aligning best practices.

Additionally, leaders considered whether a regional rapid response team should be reestablished to provide assistance across the region to countries that require it.

“Coordination and information-sharing with regional partners are essential,” Minnis said.

“We have been working in tandem with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) since COVID-19 was identified.

“We will remain vigilant and proactive.”

The risk of coronavirus disease transmission in the region was raised to “moderate to high”, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

There have been more than 85,000 cases confirmed worldwide.

As of yesterday, 2,977 people died as a result of the virus, while another 42,112 have recovered.