NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said today that had the government not enacted the COVID-19 Emergency Orders there would have been “many more deaths”, as he defended his administration’s actions as “morally and constitutionally right”.
Minnis, who kicked off debate in Parliament on a resolution to extend the state of emergency to May 23, urged Bahamians to remain disciplined in order to keep COVID-19 cases low.
He noted that, following meetings with US officials, The Bahamas will be moved down from a Level 4 to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but stressed that “we cannot think the pandemic is over because we had a few good months”.
“We must remain disciplined to keep the numbers low,” said the prime minister.
He added: “With new strains circulating, it is quite possible for us to have additional waves before our population is vaccinated. We cannot under any circumstance let our guard down.”
Minnis stated: “The right to life must be protected and preserved, through the actions and policies of the government of the day. During the pandemic, my government used every measure possible — measures provided for by our Constitution — to preserve, protect and defend human life.
“Through the emergency orders, we have sought to prevent death, illness and suffering. Without these orders, there would have been many more deaths.
“With these orders, we have protected the Bahamian people. We have done what is morally right and constitutionally right.”
He slammed the opposition for opposing extensions to the emergency orders, stating that by doing so the opposition was “advancing a policy of chaos, sickness and death”.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is the “worst crisis in modern history” with more than 100 million cases worldwide and the death toll surpassing two million. The Bahamas has recorded 8,133 total cases and 175 COVID-19-related deaths.
“We need these measures to continue to keep Bahamians safe,” said Minnis.
“The pandemic is not over, though there is light on the horizon because vaccines are slowly starting to reach more countries. We still have a long way to go before we get back to normal.”
The prime minister said that the government is working on all fronts to secure the COVID-19 vaccine and at this point has secured enough to vaccinate 20 percent of the population.
“I wish to assure Bahamians that vaccines approved for use in The Bahamas have met the strict standards of the World Health Organization,” he said, adding that the vaccine will not be mandatory and will only be administered to adults who chose to take it.