RECORD BROKEN: 330 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Christmas Day

RECORD BROKEN: 330 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Christmas Day

No new approvals for large gatherings; all previous approvals suspended

Health officials to make announcements on free testing and N-95 masks this week

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas had a record number of COVID-19 cases in a single day over the weekend, with 330 cases confirmed on Christmas Day, taking the number of cases in the country to 23,960.

Health officials advised that 320 new infections were confirmed on New Providence, three on Grand Bahama and one each on Abaco, Eleuthera, Exuma and Andros; while three infections have locations pending.

We are working to procure treatments for COVID-19 and we are taking steps to enhance our hospital capacity.

– Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville

The number of active cases, as of Saturday, stood at 1,294, though hospitalizations were relatively low with just 19 cases.

There have been 713 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with another 38 under investigation.

The significant spike in cases comes as officials indicate that the more transmissible omicron variant is believed to be in country, though gene sequencing on samples sent abroad has not confirmed this.

Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Michael Darville.

In a statement on the marked increase on Sunday, Health Minister Dr Michael Darville advised that the government will announce details for the rollout of free COVID-19 testing on New Providence and will also provide details regarding the distribution of free medical-grade masks. 

Darville said: “We are working to procure treatments for COVID-19 and we are taking steps to enhance our hospital capacity.”

The Ministry of Health also advised on Sunday that it will not approve any large gatherings and has suspended all current approvals.

Several holiday events had already received approval for gatherings of up to 300 people with COVID-19 protocols in place, Eyewitness News understands. 

On Friday, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said The Bahamas could be headed for the worst phase of the pandemic.

“We are looking at a few extremely difficult weeks ahead because of the omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

With daily cases more than tripling in recent days, Davis announced new precautions to mitigate COVID-19 that will see stricter measures at the borders and on social gatherings.

According to the latest rules, an indoor gathering must be limited to no more than 20 people, while outdoor gatherings may have up to 30.

To enter The Bahamas, a visitor must present a travel health visa.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.

The traveler must either be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 test or health clearance letter, and if not fully vaccinated, a negative RT-PCR test or health clearance letter.

The newest omicron variant continues to spread swiftly around the world and has become the dominant strain in the United States.

Data shows that while omicron remains more transmissible, it does not appear more deadly or severe.

Cases in The Bahamas increased by 1,226 over the past month, with the country confirming 22,734 cases up to November 25. At the time, there were just 254 active cases and 17 hospitalizations.

As of December 23, there were 154,157 fully vaccinated people in the country, including Bahamians and residents who were fully vaccinated abroad and registered their jabs with the ministry.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.