• Two more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in The Bahamas
•Governor General signs proclamation order for public state of emergency on Tuesday
•Churches suspend services and plan to move online
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the country is in a public state of emergency as confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) rise to three people.
Minnis made the announcement in the House of Assembly this morning, tabling the Governor General’s proclamation order, and emergency powers regulations.
He also announced all churches have agreed to immediately cancel all services, and move to online streaming in a bid to support social distancing measures.
“Mr. Speaker, late last evening health officials confirmed two additional cases of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 on New Providence,” he said.
“These individuals were identified through contract tracing.
“The Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit has aggressively undertaken contact tracing activities for the additional case reported.
“These contract tracing investigations have revealed that household members of the COVID-19 positive patient travelled to jurisdictions with known community transition. That is Canada, Trinidad and Dubai.”
The patients have been quarantined.
The prime minister did not identify the gender of the patients or their relationship to the original patient – a 61-year-old Bahamian woman.
Minnis said samples have been taken from the “household contacts” for testing and healthcare professionals who came into contact with the patients were being assessed to determine their level of exposure and risk.
He advised that 30 contacts of the original patient have been identified.
Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands is expected to provide further details to Parliament today.
The Ministry of Health is also expected to hold a press conference this afternoon to advise of the status of the patients.
During his address, Minnis said the COVID-19 pandemic is a threat that most people have not seen in their lifetime.
“I must say that the world is at war with this virus,” the prime minister said.
“As prime minister; as a medical doctor; I will do everything in my power to protect the Bahamian people.
“Over several decades I have seen, I have treated and comforted thousands of patients.
“Some were in life and death circumstances, and the most difficult and painful days of my life were when a mother or child or both lost their lives.
“I took a medical oath upon completion of my training to save lives. That oath only really became real when my heart broke and I couldn’t stop the tears after I lost a patient or when I saw a mother crying because she lost her baby.
Minnis continued: “My heart was also most broken when I watched my mother at home lie in her bed with both myself and my younger son at that time — who is now in his final year of medical school — we both slept in the same bed with my mother that night and we both witnessed her passing away…that had broken my heart and that is something I will never forget.
“I insisted that my son stayed there because I wanted him to experience that for himself and I felt that for the remainder of his life he would never, ever forget his grandmother. This made me even more determined Mr. Speaker to save every life I could.
“This is the same resolve and determination I am bringing to this fight today.”
The prime minister said as a doctor there were times where he had to take extraordinary measures to save mothers and newborns.
As prime minister, he said he has a determined mission and responsibility to save and protect every life possible during this health crisis.
The prime minister said: “I can say with confidence that we will defeat this threat, but we can only do this with every man, woman and child on board.”
Minnis said he will lead the fight against the threat COVID-19 with strength and determination, and the government will decisively to save lives.
The prime minister advised Governor General CA Smith declared a state of public emergency, which took effect Tuesday.
According to Minnis, the new emergency measures being enacted “are to save lives and protect our country”.
He said those who oppose the measures are simply “not interested in lives nor are they interested in their country”.