NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition leader Philip Davis yesterday pointed to the latest lockdown order as evidence of the government’s failure to effectively mitigate the COVID-19 crisis.
Davis said he was infuriated by the prime minister’s revelation over the capacity of ICU beds, and apparent failure to support and protect healthcare workers – particularly doctors and nurses.
He furthered the government should have used previous lockdowns to build capacity, adding the prime minister was obligated to “face the media and the people”.
“This lockdown is only necessary because of a series of specific mistakes made by this government,” he said.
“A lockdown is a blunt instrument, a last resort, when everything else has failed. And the government has failed.”
Davis reiterated criticisms of the border reopening, underscoring the prime minister’s failure to sufficiently adjust policies even though cases in the US, and especially in Florida, were exploding.
He said: “I am furious to learn that our ICU beds are full. A patient with COVID-19 can require weeks of critical care treatment. What will happen to those being diagnosed now with the virus? Where will they go when they need critical care? It is indefensible that the government waited until this moment to act.
“In the meantime, doctors and nurses are being treated as disposable. We are months into this crisis. How is it that the government has failed to support and protect them?”
Davis said the prime minister promised transparency and accountability but claimed Minnis won’t answer questions, and blames Bahamians for his mistakes.
“In a democracy, and especially during a time of crisis, the Prime Minister has an obligation to face the media and the people,” he said.
“If the so-called Competent Authority regularly faced questions, his policies would be stronger for it. Instead, no questioner is permitted to point out the problems and inconsistencies in his policies, and we lurch from one disaster to another.”
In a statement yesterday, Davis listed the following questions:
- “What’s the positivity rate in The Bahamas? That is, how many tests are being conducted daily, and what percent are positive?
- What is the government’s capacity to conduct testing at this time? When can an expansion of testing capacity be expected?
- Is testing currently available to all Bahamians who are experiencing any COVID symptoms?
- How long does someone who reports COVID symptoms have to wait until they’re given a test?
- Does the government at this time have the capacity to regularly test nurses, doctors, and emergency technicians?
- Is the government conducting regular testing of police, defence and immigration officers?
- How many Bahamians are conducting contact tracing? How quickly are people being told they have had contact with a COVID-positive patient? Are contact tracers working only on the phone, or are they also working on the ground in communities to reach people?
- Is there a plan to hire and train additional contact tracers?
- What special steps are being taken to prevent outbreaks in nursing homes and long-term care facilities?”
Davis said: “I want to reiterate a crucial point: There was nothing inevitable about this moment.
“This government has shown it is only capable of slowing the spread of the virus if it locks everyone in their homes.
“But with widespread distribution of a vaccine still many, many months off even in the best-case scenario, we must be able to have economic activity and contain the virus at the same time.
“The Prime Minister seeks to hide behind the experience of other nations – but he is to blame for not learning lessons from those examples,” Davis said.
“Bahamians across our islands are now facing risk, uncertainty, and suffering. Bahamians are angry about the chaos in the government’s decision-making. Bahamians are fed up with lockdowns necessary only because of government mistakes.”
He said: “The government must now do two things simultaneously. They must act to reduce the suffering caused by their lockdown. And they must take steps so that future lockdowns are not necessary.”
The Progressive Liberal Party leader also made clear that the prime minister did not consult or collaborate with the opposition on the decision to impose the lockdown measure.
He said members of the PLP’s task force attended a short health briefing at the Cabinet Office, and had a limited opportunity to ask a few questions about the current state of infections.
“Our views were not invited,” Davis said.
“The Prime Minister’s implication in his statement last night that he made a joint decision with the Opposition is not true. We were simply given information a few hours ahead of the general public. That is not consultation and it is not collaboration.”