NASSAU, BAHAMAS — National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Director Dr Nikkiah Forbes yesterday confirmed the country has flattened the curve of its COVID-19 rate after more than two months of emergency restrictions and border lockdowns.
The Bahamas recorded its first cases of the coronavirus on March 15.
As of yesterday, the number of confirmed cases stood at 103 with 11 deaths.
To date, 67 people have recovered from the respiratory illness.
There remains 25 actives cases and one hospitalized case.
“We have flattened the curve,” said Forbes, in an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday.
“We’ve been successful to this point because of all the collective efforts that every person did and by overall strategies by multiple agencies.
“But this is not a static situation. As things progress to moving through the phases there is the chance that there’s a second wave.”
In late January, the Ministry of Health said it was monitoring an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (nCoV) in Wuhan, China.
As the virus quickly spread throughout and later outside of China, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic – warning countries to take drastic measures to protect their citizens and health care system.
Public health professionals advised early on that the outbreak could be slowed if residents practiced social distancing by limiting their movement and avoiding public spaces and large groups.
This would allow the country’s health system to properly treat seriously ill patients, as there is still no cure for the easily transmittable virus.
The daily number of cases would remain at a manageable level for medical providers and “flatten the curve”.
The curve represents the steep increase in the number of cases per day followed by a quick decrease in the number of cases.
The Bahamas has been in a state of emergency since March 17 with a 24-hour curfew and weekend lockdowns.
While weekend lockdowns came to an end this week, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said the 9pm curfew will remain in effect.
The country is moving into Phase 4 of the government’s plan for reopening, with the resumption of operations of restaurants, bars, and beauty professionals by Monday.
But despite the low number of cases and the easing of restrictions, Forbes insisted, “COVID-19 is still here”.
“The majority of the Bahamian population and everyone who lives here is susceptible to COVID-19,” she said.
“It has not spread throughout the whole population, so therefore the whole population is not immune. So please do not have a false sense of security.”
She advised that people continue to follow social distancing and hygiene protocols in order to prevent a resurgence in cases.
There have been eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Grand Bahama, 81 in New Providence, one in Cat Cay, and 13 confirmed cases on the island of Bimini.
“As there is domestic travel and people are leaving islands where there is COVID-19, it can spread to those islands where there have been no reported cases,” she added, “So all the more we need to continue following those protocols.”
The country is expected to reopen its economy on July 1 and a practice opening on June 15.
“It is a concern and we will have to keep that in mind when we consider policies related to entry and how we will live our lives too.
“Coronavirus is not going away until there’s a vaccine or a treatment that can stop people from having serious symptoms or dying; until then we are going to be contending with this for a long time.”