Bahamas News

Bahamas COVID-19 trend threatens to overwhelm health system; strong push to augment supplies

#Nassau, The Bahamas – April 7, 2020 — COVID-19 cases for The Bahamas have been steadily increasing and the Minister of Health, on Monday, said his team is bracing for a surge while suffering a severe loss in front line health care workers who are under quarantine.

April 3, 2020 photo of meeting at Bahamas Ministry of Health

“Among these confirmed positive COVID-19 health care worker, two (2) have had to be hospitalized.  What is more worrisome, is that more than fifty (50) health care workers have been identified as contacts of diagnosed/confirmed cases. These health care workers are currently in quarantine, and are being monitored for the development of symptoms. 

Clearly, if more health care workers are removed from the available pool, there will be no soldiers left to fight the COVID war.   We must protect our frontline workers.   The best way to do this is to stay at home!”

Minister, Dr. Duane Sands wants what officials around the world want – for people to live through this pandemic by following the protocols, though difficult.

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“Currently, there are 23 cases in New Providence; 5 cases in Grand Bahama; and  1 case from Bimini. This equates to almost one new case each day. If we continue on this path, our health care system will be overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands.  Social and physical distancing and responsible handwashing are the two mitigating actions that will help us to combat the strength of this virus,” said the Minister during a presentation in the House of Assembly.

The nation learned that the People’s Republic of China has donated 1,000 test kits and The Bahamas now has 10,000 rapid tests which will mean wider screening at the community level. 

“We are exploring the introduction of rapid testing. The first step in the process requires in-country validation of the rapid serological testing. Once this validation is completed, wider screening for COVID-19 at the community level will commence. There are 10,000 rapid test kits in-country.”

Chinese Embassy, The Bahamas

More challenging however, as the world competes for the same products, is for The Bahamas to ensure the frontline soldiers in Health Care are adequately outfitted for the battle.

“With this in mind, we are aggressively exploring various ways and means to acquire more personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory and other supplies. The global shortage of PPEs and other needed supplies have resulted in supply chain disruptions.  Many countries are holding on to their stock, and others are coveting the stocks found in other countries. Hence, we must manage our current supplies judiciously.  Our goal is to ensure that there is a consistent supply of PPEs to frontline nurses, doctors and support staff.  With this equipment, they can provide the necessary care to individuals presenting to and being admitted to health care facilities,” said Minister Sands.

The Bahamas Ministry of Health currently has:  1,000 boxes of surgical masks;  43,995 of  N95 masks; 2,418 surgeon gowns; 1,672 healthcare barrier gowns;  238 face shields; 4,590 boxes of gloves; and 6,033+ PPE full kits, (masks, 2 gloves, boot cover, head cover, face shield).

On Monday, Bahamas Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis informed that the Public Hospitals Authority will label their medical face masks, that government will purchase all of the medical masks within the marketplace and soon to come is a ban on the sale of these specialized items to the general public. 

The Bahamas has over 29.5 million surgical masks and another 691,000 cloth masks according to the Health Minister in his update.  As for gloves, there are nearly 270,000,000.

From Bahamas Ministry of Health, Facebook

“The Ministry of Health will continue to trump up efforts to ensure that our frontline health care workers are provided with appropriate PPEs and training to minimize their level of exposure to the COVID19 virus.”

Dr. Judson Eneas

The Bahamas, up to Monday April 6 recorded 33 positives for COVID-19 and five deaths, including a medical doctor. 

Dr. Judson Eneas, 71, died on Sunday April 5 as a result of contracting the coronavirus; one of five medical care workers who had been infected in service to the public.

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