Wells: More than 4,000 COVID contacts under surveillance

Wells: More than 4,000 COVID contacts under surveillance
Health minister Renward Wells (file photo)
  • 151 new COVID-19 cases, three confirmed deaths
  • More than 50 percent of cases have recovered

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health Renward Wells yesterday revealed more than 4,000 contacts were under surveillance, signaling transmission of COVID-19 was still a serious threat.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 151 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, along with  the COVID deaths of two men aged, 49 and 73, on Tuesday (September 22).

The death of a 40-year-old woman on August 30 was also confirmed as COVID-related, taking the total number of deaths to 80.

All three victims were from New Providence.

As of yesterday, there were 1,594 active cases with recoveries accounting for 53 percent of total cases.

Of the new cases, there were 128 in New Providence, four in Grand Bahama, 17 in Abaco, and one each in Andros and Inagua.

In Parliament, Wells noted the second wave of the virus was claiming “younger lives”, with the average age of deaths at 61.

This represents a decrease of 12 years from the average age of 73 during the first wave.

Wells said 48 percent of infected people were between the ages of newborn to 39-years-old.

He provided the data during his contribution to debate on a resolution to extend the emergency powers orders for another month.

The health minister said he believed the administration held “large consent” to move forward with the extension based on the level of public cooperation thus far.

We acknowledge that we must avoid further disruption of our already fragile economy and additional uncertainty for our constituents, who have made huge sacrifices,” he said.

“The economy will therefore have to be restarted while COVID-19 is still an active and immediate threat. We therefore support smart targeted containment coupled with economic restart to curtail human and economic losses.”

Wells stressed lockdowns were implemented to break the chains of transmission and control the number of infected people.

He said more than 20 patients suspected of having COVID-19 were airlifted to New Providence from the Family Islands.

“We have taken the decision, with the improved situation in Grand Bahama, to transport suspected cases from the islands of Bimini and Abaco and their cays to Grand Bahama for emergency services.”

The islands of Cat Island, Berry Island, Acklins, Bimini, Mayaguana and Crooked Island have gone almost two weeks or more with no new reported COVID-19 cases, he said.

Cat Island has gone 42 days, Berry Island 39 days, and Acklins 24 days.

Wells said: “We will continue to effectively respond to COVID-19 by promoting public health and safety, encouraging community participation, social mobilization and peer responsibility which is holding each other accountable.

“All of us want to see the back of COVID-19. In this environment we must not lose hope. With all that we do we ask that Jehovah Rapha, the Lord our healer would hasten the healing of our world and in particular our nation.

“We are in the ‘new normal’. Getting back to business requires physical distancing measures, minimizing person-to-person contact, wearing masks, washing our hands frequently, and ensuring that frequently touched surfaces are disinfected regularly.”

He added: “Based on the public’s cooperation thus far, I am still of the view that we have large consent to move ahead.”

Wells said the Department of Public Health continues to reassign its health human resources to strengthen the Disease Surveillance and Contact Tracing Units despite the human resources challenges.

Testing

Wells said officials have made “significant strides” in testing, pointing to an expanded testing protocol that maximized the use of “scarce resources”.

The health minister confirmed there were adequate supplies of RTPCR test kits, RNA extractor kits and regents; however,  he said adding that all avenues for procurement of additional supplies are being explored amid global challenges.

Health officials reported 18,263 tests have been completed as of yesterday.

Wells said officials were testing the efficacy of a low-cost and non-invasive saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 that was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).