Lockdowns must be lifted strategically, says global health agency
PM has meetings with CARICOM to discuss food security, gradual reopening
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While little has been said about when The Bahamas could see lockdown restrictions lifted as the country remains in the COVID-19 “surge”, the World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested countries with lower number of cases can begin easing restrictions.
Jurisdictions across the globe have been under some form of lockdown to reduce the spread of the virus.
In certain countries, including several in Europe, new cases have begun to drop or stabilize.
“It may be a little longer that you have to remain home,” said WHO Technical Lead Dr Maria Van Kerkhove on Monday, adding that lockdowns must be lifted strategically and not all at once.
“Not lifting all at once is very critical, so that we can get people back to work, get these economies going back again as quickly as possible.”
According to WHO’s strategic advice, countries easing lockdowns should ensure that transmission is controlled; the health sector capacity is in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every positive case; outbreaks have been minimized in special settings; preventive measures have been implemented in the workplace, schools and other critical areas; importation risks can be managed; and communities have been educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the “new norm”.
In its situation reported dated April 9, CDEMA said the risk of further importation of cases to the region remains “very high”.
It reported just over 4,000 cases in 33 countries and 185 deaths in the region — a 23 percent increase in the number of confirmed cases since its last report.
“The aim for all countries now is to stop transmission, prevent the spread of the virus and save lives,” read the report.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis had an emergency meeting with CARICOM heads to address the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the region, as well it’s gradual reopening.
The prime minister stressed the importance of the region working together even more closely in the “areas of food security and the gradual and safe re-opening of the economy”.
“We have to strike a balance between the health and safety of our citizens, and residents and ensuring that our economies continue to work,” Minnis said.
Last week, Minister of Health Dr Sands said The Bahamas was “nowhere near flattening the curve”.
Health officials expected a doubling of cases to 90 by Easter weekend.
As of yesterday, there were 49 confirmed cases in The Bahamas and eight deaths.
A five-day lockdown was implemented between last Wednesday and Tuesday.
Another lockdown will take place on Friday at 9pm until Monday at 5 am.
According to international reports, Italy, Spain and Austria have eased out of COVID-19 lockdowns, allowing partial returns to work as countries across Europe continue to report moderate declines in new cases of the virus.
Workers in Spain have returned to factory and construction jobs; however, most shops and services remain closed.
In Italy, where the death toll has surpassed 21,000, laundries, bookshops, stationers and children’s clothing stores reopened on a trial basis, while forestry industry workers and those working in factories making computer equipment were allowed to return to work.
The lockdown ends on May 4.
Globally, there have been more than 2 million confirmed cases.
Over 600,000 of those cases stem from the United States.
Both Spain and Italy have reported fewer than 180,000 cases.
China, the once epicenter of the virus, has reported just over 83,000 cases.
To date, more than 128,000 people have died worldwide.