Sands: “We are not winning this battle”

Sands: “We are not winning this battle”
Former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.

Former health minister says testing insufficient to justify full reopening

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Underscoring the country’s coronavirus cases and deaths per capita, former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said notwithstanding the hard work and noble efforts, the nation is “not winning this battle” against COVID-19.

The Bahamas ranks 36 out of 215 countries and territories around the world in cases of the coronavirus per capita.

“We have a case incidence rate per million, which is twice the average of all countries in the world — 8,797 per million as compared to an average of 4,075 per million,” said Sands during debate on a resolution to extend the emergency orders to October 31.

The former health minister abstained from the vote.

“We have the 38th highest instance of deaths of COVID-19 in the world per capita.

“So, notwithstanding the noble intentions, the hard work, the resources expended to date, we are not winning this battle and we have paid an incredible price to this day.

“Our economic performance although ably managed and guided by the member for East Grand Bahama is facing hurricane-force headwinds. Let me compliment the efforts of the executive. Let me compliment you for the work you are attempting to do.”

As of yesterday, there were 3,618 COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas, of which 1,594 cases had recovered.


Sands said health officials have done a better job with testing, but The Bahamas is still not testing enough — notwithstanding the engagement of the private sector, which has performed around 10,000 tests.

He said this is evidenced by the 25 percent positivity rate of recent tests.

Adequate testing and tracing take place when test rates remain around five percent or lower for two weeks, according to Erin Bromage, a comparative immunologist at the University of Massachusetts.

“We are not testing enough,” Sands said.

He continued: “Without a robust and consistent ability to test, definitely screen, isolate and track, we will lose this battle. In June, I said if we take our eye off the ball and lessen our vigilance, we can and should expect a second wave of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. I also said if that happens I dread even considering the potential economic peril. Unfortunately, our fears have been realized.”

Yesterday, Sands said widespread random testing will allow The Bahamas to achieve the 152 tests per 100,000 suggested by Harvard Institute experts to be a safe level for reopening.

“For The Bahamas that equates to 600 tests per day,” the Elizabeth MP said.

“Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is critical to tracking the virus, understanding the epidemiology, informing case management and suppressing case transmission.

“We have appropriately and reasonably relied on RT PCR testing, but I call today for The Bahamas to embrace antigen testing as a far cheaper alternative to RT PCR; not as sensitive, but certainly a $20 or $30 test which can be supported by RT PCR testing, which runs anywhere from $120 to $480 a test. [It] may make it easier for us to control this pandemic.”

During debate, Minister of Health Renward Wells said officials were exploring the efficacy of a low-cost and non-invasive saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that was recently authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration.

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.


Without wide scale testing of the public at large the numbers, especially the positivity rate will always be skewed. If you really want to know the infection rate and get a handle on this virus, offer free testing to everyone. When your personal finances are tight, who is going to pay for a test especially if there are no symptoms. Pay for a test or pay for food???

Testing is not a big issue in my opinion. The public needs to be better educated on medications and how to take care of one’s self if the virus is contracted.
Antihistamine medication (Benadryl) helps with the information that causes joint pains and congestion.
Robitussin for the coughing.
Hot liquids throughout the day.
B12 or B complex for energy ( the virus lowers ones blood pressure and causes a feeling of tired weakness)
A dip in the salt water to break the mucus congestion in the lungs.
And I am sure there are many more.

The numbers clearly suggest that the illness caused by this virus is survivable if one is not already immuno compromised or have a lifestyle illness.

The issue with these test is that it detects the virus and the Antibodies but dose not differentiate between the two.
So A person who is now “immune” ( as the PM said that Brave Davis is now that he has recovered) can be tested and receive a positive result. They are telling us that these people are just asymptomatic when they are actually healthy because of a properly functioning immune system.

The focus should be on providing proper care to the most vulnerable citizens in our society. The elderly and chronicly ill, for they are the ones who’s lives are being taken by this virus. Especially those with lifestyle Illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.

As a nation we need to change the way we eat. The love of fried foods and nutrition void foods is causing a problem that our health system obviously can not handle.

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