#NASSAU, The Bahamas — March 26, 2020 — Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19, it is important that the public follows the advice consistently given by the Ministry of Health Medical Professionals including himself.
“It is important that you listen to and follow this advice. Ignoring this advice could lead to you contracting the virus, getting sick and dying. Ignoring this advice could lead to the spread of it to your family and friends. They could get sick and die.
“Ignoring this advice could put doctors, nurses and health care providers and workers at risk who are needed to care for the sick,” Dr. Sands stressed during a press conference at his office, Thursday, March 26, 2020.
“There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.”
He explained that COVID-19 is primarily spread between people who are in close contact with each other through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The Health Minister noted with respect to cleaning your hands — water and scrubbing motions with one’s hands create more soap bubbles, which disrupts the chemical bonds that allow the virus to stick to surfaces: “You want to scrub, build up bubbles and scrub some more, getting into every crack and crevice of your hands and fingers, including under your fingernails, for at least 20 seconds.
“Cold water works well but warm water with soap works even better because it makes a better lather and more bubbles. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective too if they are used properly.”
He said they need to have at least 60 per cent alcohol in them, and persons must use enough all over the surface of their hands. They should rub it all over their hands and between their fingers until it dries completely.
He stated that alcohol also helps break up the membrane of the virus and kills it, but you need to make sure it gets into direct contact with the virus.
Dr. Sands added that while hand hygiene is critical, it is equally critical that individuals avoid touching their face – especially their eyes, nose and mouth.
“Once contaminated, your hands can transfer the virus into your body through contact with the eyes, nose or mouth.”
He said, “Additionally, make sure you and the people around you practice good respiratory hygiene at all times.
This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then, dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.”
Dr. Sands said if individuals have mild cold- or flu-like symptoms, stay at home. “We do not want medical healthcare facilities filled with people who do not need urgent treatment.”
He said to persons should call their medical health professional or our COVID-19 hotline if they need advice. The 24-hour Hotline at 502-7382; 376-9350 from 8am to 8pm; 376-9387 from 8pm to 8am, and toll free (242) 300-2619.
The call centre is reserved for COVID-19-related questions only.
“If your symptoms escalate and you think you need medical care, please call ahead first. If you have a medical emergency call 911.”
Dr. Sands stated that a major part of the prevention strategy is physical distancing.
“By limiting the number of people you are in contact with you lessen the chance of being infected, and we reduce the spread of the virus.
He stressed, “We strongly advise that you stay at home as much as is possible. I repeat, stay at home as much as is possible!”