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Controlling Transmission of COVID-19 Requires a Combination of Strategies, says Bahamas Health Minister

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#NASSAU, The Bahamas — November 11, 2020 – Minister of Health the Hon. Renward Wells explained that controlling the transmission of COVID-19 requires a combination of strategies and one part of that strategy is testing.

“The Ministry of Health’s testing protocol is expanding. Although the RT PCR test remains the gold standard in-country to diagnose COVID-19, selected Rapid Antigen Tests are now being incorporated in our protocol to detect an acute infection of COVID-19 in patients who are experiencing symptoms,” Minister Wells said during the COVID-19 Update press conference at the Ministry of Health, Friday, November 6, 2020.

Renward Wells, Bahamas Minister of Health (file)

He stated that despite being less sensitive than the RT-PCR test, rapid antigen testing is relatively inexpensive and provides rapid results. This type of testing has the potential to provide wider access to COVID-19 testing at an acceptable turnaround time when there is limited access to RT-PCR testing.

The Minister noted that currently, there are two antigen tests that have been granted World Health Organization Emergency Use Authorization –

  • the SD Biosensor; and
  • the Abbott PanBIO rapid antigen tests.

“Both these tests have been independently validated and found to have high sensitivity and specificity in symptomatic persons.

“The only drawback is that there are currently no published studies of rapid antigen test performance in asymptomatic populations.”

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He said, “The Ministry of Health wishes to advise that any antigen test used in The Bahamas must meet 4 criteria as outlined in the National Protocol. The test should –

  • be administered by trained healthcare providers; undergo local validation before use;
  • be performed with continuous quality assurance and applicable biosafety precautions; and
  • be performed by a facility that has been certified by the Health Care Facilities Board.”

Minister Wells stated to make a COVID-19 test available to a wider cross-section of Bahamians, the Ministry continues to explore other testing strategies.

He explained that the Saliva Test for COVID-19 is an alternative to the current nasal swabbing protocol. The Saliva test is an easy alternative to test symptomatic and asymptomatic persons by RT-PCR.

“This test is a streamlined version of the RT-PCR test. This is because it is –

  • cheaper than the currently used swab-based RT-PCR test;
  • it does not involve swabbing the nose or throat of people; or
  • it does not require viral extraction in the lab.

The Minister said the saliva samples are easily obtained and stored at refrigerator temperature for one week. A swab can only be preserved for three days. This method offers benefits to the Family Islands for easy storage and transport.

Samaritan’s Purse sets up Covid-19 tent hospital at PMH in Nassau, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis toured the site soon after it was erected in October, 2020. BIS Photo

He noted that recently, the National COVID-19 Ethics Committee approved the SalivaDirect test to undergo an evaluation, by being piloted within New Providence and selected Family Islands. The study will be targeting asymptomatic persons.

“In this pilot evaluation exercise, consenting participants will be swabbed as normal, and a saliva sample will be obtained at the same time. This way we can compare the results and measure the accuracy of the saliva-based method against the swab method.

“This pilot is anticipated to proceed during November. The National Reference Laboratory will present its findings and recommendations as it relates to the performance of and potential future use of the SalivaDirect Test.”

Minister Wells said, “We hope to be able to utilize the Saliva test to enhance access to testing in the community as well as introduce greater cost efficiencies into the national testing policy in The Bahamas.”

BIS News By Llonella Gilbert

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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BFN urges Bahamians to pay attention to hunger ‘crisis’

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Great Commission Ministries thanks network for nearly a decade of support

 

#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) director, Mario Carey, is making an urgent plea to the public to pay attention to the hunger crisis that many face in The Bahamas.

Carey made the comments as he and BFN Executive Director Archdeacon James Palacious paid a visit to Great Commission Ministries, one of nearly 100 feeding centres that BFN regularly supports and a beneficiary of the network for nearly 10 years.

“It’s sad and shocking to see the extent of this issue in The Bahamas,” said Carey.

“This is a crisis that isn’t being adequately addressed. How is it that in The Bahamas so many people go hungry every day and it’s such a struggle to feed them?”

The plea came just days ahead of the BFN’s inaugural golf tournament, ‘Tee Off for Hunger’ which BFN hopes will raise funds to provide more than 50,000 meals in the fight against hunger.

In recent months, BFN has been providing more than 70,000 meals per month to the most vulnerable in The Bahamas. And Palacious said the hunger problem in the country continues to be a dire one.

Palacious said the demand BFN is facing has remained steadily high, particularly as Bahamians continue to struggle with an increasing cost of living and continued high unemployment.

“It’s concerning to see the extent of the need in our country,” said Palacious.

“And at the Bahamas Feeding Network, we do all we can to provide assistance, but the demand is great and ceaseless. We deeply appreciate and ask for the continued support of the business community and the public at large to be able to carry on our work in these difficult times.”

Bishop Walter Hanchell, founder and president of Great Commission Ministries, said the organization has been seeing a sustained increase in people seeking help with the basic necessities in recent months.

Great Commission Ministries provides hot meals to roughly 500 people each day, in addition to distributing meals to the sick and shut-in, as well as the provision of grocery packages to struggling families.

Hanchell, who has been helping to feed Bahamians for over three decades, said the past few months have been challenging, as more and more new faces show up seeking assistance. Although the organization receives monetary and in-kind support, the need frequently outweighs the supply.

“Every day you see it,” said Hanchell. “And we are seeing more middle-class people who are now struggling. We help as many as we can, but of course we have limited resources.”

Carey said Hanchell’s observations point clearly to a worsening problem.

“The thing is, this is just one organization, and there are hundreds of them,” said Carey.

The Bahamas Feeding Network spends over $120,000 on its monthly efforts. And Palacious said a generous patron who covers the network’s monthly rent helps to ensure that just a small percentage of donations goes towards administration costs.

Carey said now is the time for everyone to take the issue of hunger in The Bahamas seriously.

“This is beatable,” he said. “We can beat this if people buy into it and everyone makes a contribution.”

Hanchell echoed his sentiments, noting that homelessness is another serious issue that he is working to combat, with plans underway to construct a 100-bed shelter next year.

“We are going to be asking a lot of corporate Bahamas, and the government and private citizens to make that happen,” he said.

Hanchell added, “In November we celebrate 35 years of nonstop ministry and we thank God for the Bahamas Feeding Network and all that they have done to support us over the years. They have been a tremendous blessing.

“It’s not been an easy road but the Lord has been with us.”

 

Photo Caption: Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) representatives visit long-time beneficiary Great Commission Ministries. L-R: Great Commission Ministries Elder Mina Hanchell, Great Commission Ministries President Bishop Walter Hanchell, BFN Executive Director Archdeacon James Palacious, BFN Director Mario Carey, Aventus Ventures CEO Kevin Hobbs, Great Commission Ministries Operations Manager Maxine Bethel

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Da Rocks’ Jonquel Jones and Sun aim to repeat win in bid for WNBA Championship

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#USA, September 18, 2022 – Jonquel Jones of Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama power forward and centre for the Suns had 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in a victorious and glorious effort against the Las Vegas Aces on Friday night. The Connecticut Suns holding on in game three, which could have been elimination if that score went the Aces way.

Now, on ESPN Sunday Jones is hoping for another win and a tie of the series which is a best of game five.

The Sun are now 4-0 in elimination games in the playoffs so far this postseason.

There was other good news on the weekend for Bahamian Jonquel, as she was named an All-WNBA Second Team selection.  Jones scored 126 overall, receiving 12 first team votes and 22 second team votes which came as no surprise to many.  Jonquel leads the Suns in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots.  She averages 14.6 points per game, ranking in the top 20 in the WNBA for scoring.

Add to the road Jonquel is still on for WNBA Champion and historic Bahamian athlete, as a member of the All- WNBA First Team, she will receive $10,300 and each member of the Second Team will receive $5,150.

The Bahamas continues to be proud of this outstanding player.

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Tourism, Investments & Aviation Minister I. Chester Cooper Elected Vice Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization

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#TheBahamas, September 16, 2022 –  The Hon. I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, was elected to continue to serve as a vice chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) during the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism Meetings this week.

DPM Cooper is leading a delegation which includes Latia Duncombe, Acting Director General (ADG) and Dr Kenneth Romer, Deputy Director General and Acting Director of Aviation, to the four-day CTO Business Meetings which are taking place in the Cayman Islands 12-15 September 2022.

“I am grateful and honoured to serve in this capacity on behalf of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and the entire Caribbean region,” DPM Cooper said.

“It is important that we continue to forge deeper relations with our tourism counterparts and support each other as we aim for full economic recovery. It is my hope that ongoing efforts will enhance our tourism product across the region and position the Caribbean as the most desirable destination year-round.”

In his role as CTO Vice Chairman, DPM Cooper will provide updates regarding the region’s performance and developments.

The CTO is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising over 24 member countries and territories and provides support to those members in marketing, sustainable tourism, communications, and research & information technology. This year’s conference focuses on regional recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for the future of tourism.

CTO Business Meetings have been on hold since 2020, making this meeting the organisation’s first in-person event following the onset of the pandemic.

For more information, visit Bahamas.com.

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