NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite reinstated restrictions in The Bahamas amidst a continuous increase in COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization is appealing to world leaders to stop using lockdowns as a method to curb the spread of COVID-19 in their countries.
Dr David Nabarro, WHO’s special envoy on COVID-19, made the appeal during an interview with the British-based show, Spectator TV last week.
He insisted that countries must learn to coexist with the virus in a way that does not require constant closing down of economies, or associated with high levels of suffering and death.
Nabarro said that “the middle path” is being able to hold the virus at bay while keeping economic and social life going, which is doable but requires a high level of organization from governments and engagement by their people.
“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” he said.
“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”
Nabarro noted that globally lockdown measures have significantly impacted economies, often making poor people poorer.
“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said.
“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world…Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year.
“We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition…This is a terrible ghastly global catastrophe. And so we really do appeal to all world leaders, stop using lockdowns as your primary control method, develop better systems for doing it, work together and learn from each other.
“Remember, lockdown has just one consequence that you must never ever belittle and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.”
Nabarro said countries must put in place robust defenses against the virus so countries can catch it quickly and suppress outbreaks fast.
He continued: “Lockdowns only serve one purpose and that is to give you a bit of breathing space, to stop everything, the virus stops moving and while you’ve got that breathing space you should be building up your testing, building up your contact tracing building up your local organizations, so as you release lockdown you are bound to get more cases, but you can deal with it very elegantly.”
The Cabinet of The Bahamas met last week with the Pan-American Health Organization and World Health Organization representative to The Bahamas, and the government’s health consultant and representatives of the Ministry of Health.
The prime minister announced additional lockdown measures for New Providence and Abaco, purportedly based on the meetings with health professionals.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Davis said in a statement that he attended a virtual briefing by the country representative for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday.
“PAHO confirmed that The Bahamas is behind countries like Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados in securing therapeutic medicines for patients with COVID,” Davis said.
“This is another reason why our country is performing much worse than our peers in the region. Indeed, we continue to rank at the bottom of countries globally when it comes to our country’s response to COVID.
“As we have said repeatedly, our country cannot begin to recover economically until we first contain the virus. The United States has already warned its citizens not to travel to The Bahamas and PAHO indicated other nations were considering similar warnings.”