NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Up to 80 percent of people in The Bahamas could be exposed to the coronavirus if there are no mitigation measures or public compliance, according to Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme at the Ministry of Health.
Forbes said The Bahamas was a long way away from herd immunity, even as the number of confirmed cases continues to climb, adding the immunity strategy will increase the death toll in The Bahamas.
As of Sunday, there was an additional COVID-19-related death, pushing the total number of deaths relating to the virus up to 18.
There were 1,315 confirmed cases yesterday, representing a case mortality rate (CMR) of just over one percent, a rate in line with global standards.
“We know generally with an infectious virus, if sick people are mixing with well people who are susceptible that a virus such as this can spread quickly and it is very contagious,” she told Eyewitness News.
“So, if we don’t follow the instructions then most of the population can be impacted. Up to 60 to 80 percent of the population can be impacted if there is nothing done to stop the spread.
In the first wave, marked between mid-March and July 1, there were 104 cases.
Up to that point, health officials determined The Bahamas had flattened the curve of the virus.
The Bahamas opened up its borders to international commercial carriers on July 1 after more than three months of a border closure, and other measures including a 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns.
In the second wave, there have been 1,211 cases alone to date.
Total confirmed cases stood at 1,315 as of Sunday.
A two-week lockdown was implemented nationally to curb the explosion of cases.
However, some islands, predominantly those in the southern Bahamas where there have either been few or zero cases, have since been allowed to resume commercial activity.
“If you have a population of persons that are at-risk, they do not have immunity, they’re susceptible,” she said.
“The population projection of The Bahamas for 2020 is about 400,000 people.
“If most of those people are not immune to COVID-19, meaning they can easily get COVID-19; if you have rapid spread of the virus; what equals is a lot of people getting sick at the same time, which a healthcare system cannot deal with. That’s putting the healthcare system under too much pressure.”
Forbes pointed out that healthcare capacity is factored based on the number of available healthcare personnel, hospital beds, lab testing, and ventilators among others factors.
She said if a lot of people get sick at the same time a number of them will be moderately to severely ill and require hospitalization and support.
“Without that support, they will die,” she said.
“So, when you just go about business as usual and people are gathering; children are in schools; everybody is close together — what happens is the virus spread quickly and plenty of people get sick. And because the healthcare capacity is pushed to way above capacity [in that instance] you cannot take care of those people who are seriously ill, so then people die.”
Forbes said health officials continue to focus on flattening the curve amid the second wave — slowing down the spread with prevention measures, including restricting movement to limit the number of people getting sick per day, which prevents the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed.