NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials last week defended the level of information provided to the both the media and wider public concerning the recent surge in COVID-19.
In recent weeks, health officials have limited the extent of information released on new cases, particularly regarding the age and travel history.
Health officials have also opted not to respond to reports of exposure at different health and government facilities as they seek to get a handle on the spread.
The level of responsiveness of health officials to media inquiries was raised at press conference on Friday.
Asked whether officials are being transparent with the media amid leaked reports of exposure at various institutions, newly appointed Health Minister Renward Wells maintained press engagement is not the first priority of health teams.
“The first response of health is to access the situation, understand what is going on, seek to do the contact tracing, get the requisite information first in responding to it, and in responding to it then the information is given to the wider public as to what Ministry of Health is doing in that response,” Wells said.
He indicated that apart of that response is informing the public whether or not they should visit those facilities.
“That is what the Ministry Health has been doing,” he continued.
“I have been Minister of Health for 18 days and I have seen no evidence, none whatsoever that health is withholding information from the general public.
“It serves us no purpose to do such.”
Chief medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillian also offered reassurances to the media and the public that it did not benefit officials to withhold essential information.
“Keeping you well informed better equips you to make the right decisions and to plan for you and your families,” McMillian noted.
“That said, the Ministry of Health will not violate privacy and confidentiality to provide the information required, if it is not in keeping with our ethical background.
“The information that is important is reflected daily on our dashboards, press releases and our conferences. It is also important to understand the mammoth task being undertaken by a relatively few small health team.”