NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Declaring that transmission of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama has been reduced by 75 percent, Minister of Health Renward Wells said the government continues to explore how to effect the same outcome in New Providence where cases continue to climb.
Wells fielded questions from reporters outside the Churchill Building about the potential for a third wave of cases as the country largely reopens and eases restrictions, yesterday.
He said there will be a reduction in the number of cases “over the process of time” once residents continue to adhere to the health guidelines.
“At the end of the day, we have reduced the spread of COVID inside Grand Bahama by some 75 percent,” Wells said.
“We are looking to see how we continue to manage the spread of COVID here in New Providence.
“We are looking at how best we can help to flatten the curve, but that depends on all of us [and] what we do — whether we physically distance; whether we wear our masks; whether we wash our hands; whether we adhere to the health protocols — and over the process of time we will see a reduction in those numbers.”
Wells did not provide the data or timeline compared to arrive at the percentage decrease.
For example, in the last two weeks (August 24 through September 7), Grand Bahama recorded 62 infections, down from the 94 cases recorded in the two-week period prior (August 10 through August 24)
This represents a reduction of 34 percent.
Amid a surge of cases on the island, which was called a “hotspot” the prime minister announced a two-week lockdown for the island beginning July 23 through August 7.
In early August, the prime minister announced a nationwide lockdown to curb a rapid spread of cases, extending the lockdown in Grand Bahama to August 19.
Wells continued: “A third wave? As I said, we’re in the midst of a second wave.
“There is talk that perhaps when it gets colder like the flu, because the coronavirus is that kind of virus, that there may be much more increase among the numbers that we have.
“We’re hoping that’s not the case, but I would advise the Bahamian people to help us in that regard.”
The verdict remains out on whether there is a link between COVID-19 cases and temperature as researchers and experts offer mixed opinions.
In July, the UN health agency said the virus was likely not impacted by the changing seasons like other respiratory diseases and urged much greater adherence to physical distancing measures to curb the spread.
“The season does not seem to be affecting the transmission of this virus”, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said at the time.
“What is affecting the transmission is mass gatherings; it’s people coming together, and people not social distancing, not taking the precautions to ensure they are not in close contact.”
Yesterday, Wells urged Bahamians and residents to opt for the flu vaccine to help to reduce cases of the flu that could be confused for COVID-19.
“Flu season is coming and we certainly don’t want individuals also presenting with the flu,” he said.
“The flu vaccines have been tried and tested for 20, 30, 40 years.
“So, at the end of the day I would advise the Bahamian people to do all they can to maintain their health, and if need be, once we do have the flu vaccine in-country, they should take it so we don’t begin to confuse those individuals who have flu with coronavirus as well.
As of Monday, there were 2,585 confirmed cases of the virus.
Of the total cases, New Providence continued to lead in infections with 1,667.
This represents 64 percent of cases in The Bahamas.
Grand Bahama followed with 584 cases, just over a third of cases in New Providence.
Abaco had the third-highest number of cases with 86, following by Bimini with 54.
Another 89 cases were spread over 10 islands, while 105 cases had “locations pending”.
There have been no new cases in the Berry Islands, Cat Island and Crooked Island in nearly two and a half weeks.
Data presented by the Ministry of Health last month, reflect transmission and exposure occur predominantly among families and the workplace.