“We are now in the surge” says public health expert on COVID-19 spread

“We are now in the surge” says public health expert on COVID-19 spread
Dr Mercline Dahl-Regis
  • Nine confirmed cases in country

  • Officials say four cases could impact at minimum 200 contacts

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Health officials yesterday confirmed community transmission of the coronavirus (COVID) in The Bahamas

This comes as four more cases of the virus were confirmed on New Providence – none of which were connected to any of the previous five cases.

Community transmission means the source of infection for the spread is unknown.

“Based on the cases, the contacts and where they are, and the onset of the symptoms, we have determined that it is community spread,” said Dr Mercline Dahl-Regis, Bahamian public health expert with specialty in regional disease elimination.

Dahl-Regis is the former chief medical officer and consultant to the prime minister.

Officials warned on Sunday that while the numbers were increasing slowly, the health system was bracing for a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We have been in the preparatory phase in the last three of four days for a surge,” Dahl-Regis assured.

“We are now in the surge as far as our population response and the tests are becoming positive so we are monitoring the clinical presentations.

“We have an active hotline. We are looking at the contact tracing, we are monitoring the contacts.”

She furthered that their teams are now in the process of plotting areas where the cases are occurring to address the clusters.

“We do have to GIS map our contacts and our cases so that we can look at interventions or modalities of moving forward and where to anticipate cases.,” she said.

The first four cases of the virus were in New Providence and were all connected.

The fifth case in Grand Bahamas had no connection with the previous cases and had no significant travel history.

Of the four latest cases – only one has had recent travel history to the Dominican Republic, dating back to March 13.

Dahl-Regis said yesterday that two of those cases are “related in friendship and companionship”.

All of the most recent cases are in home isolation and are being closed monitored by healthcare professions, said Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.

He noted that they do not require hospitalization at this time.

Sands insisted yesterday that the contract tracing is aggressively underway and the Ministry of Health Surveillance Unit has already contacted the large majority of those who were in contact with the initial case.

Officials have indicated that first confirmed case would have come into contact with about 45 people and the second case with about 75 people.

Tracing for the other confirmed cases are still ongoing.

Dahl-Regis said the estimated contact tracing for four cases is at minimum 200 contacts.

She explained health officials have switched surveillance outreach from individual visits to temperature monitoring and patient referrals to monitor the health condition of identified contacts.

Dahl-Regis said officials have adjusted in order to better manage capacity demands and the physical constraints of distancing measures.

A state of emergency was declared last week, just two days after the first confirmed case.

The government has implemented a 24-hour curfew and a shelter in place order in order to maintain the spread of the virus. The emergency orders could be extended on Monday based on recommendations over the effectiveness of those measures.