Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen said The Bahamas has to take a “hard stance” in order to flatten the spread of COVID-19 locally, including shutting down some non-essential services in the country.
He said church services are among those that should be discontinued.
“If you’re going to take a hard stance, you’re gonna have to say we discourage people from attending those types of services,” Brennen said today on the Guardian Radio show “Morning Blend” with Dwight Strachan.
“So when we get calls from the Ministry of Health, we say, ‘We would strongly discourage you.’
“And they say, ‘Should I do this.’ And we say, ‘No, don’t go to church services’.”
While he said he is not trying to hurt businesses, Dr. Brennan added that it is incumbent on Bahamians to practice social distancing across the board.
“If you know we have it in country and you know we have community spread, why would you continue to put yourself at risk,” he said.
“If you miss the movies for 30 days, you will be okay. If you have to walk somewhere for 30 days, you will be healthier.
“These are the things that we have to take seriously if we are going to halt the passage of this within our society.”
He added that he personally thinks restaurants should close or reconsider the way it does business.
“I’m not trying to knock on anyone’s business,” he said. “I just think we have to take this seriously from a global perspective. When we see people who have done it well, they have shut it all down and said this is for this period.
“Only essential services are going to need to be in place because that is how you can halt progression or at least slow it significantly.”
He said The Bahamas still has an opportunity to learn from some of the countries that are doing well.
“If we can say this is how we are going to do it, we are really going to take this social distancing thing seriously – that’s how we can continue to lead.
“I absolutely think we can do more and when I say restaurants should shut down, it’s our approach to how we currently do it. Do I think we should do dine in? No. Do I think you should be able to order food from a restaurant, show up, pick up your food and go? Absolutely.
“So I don’t think the people are going to lose totally by shutting down their entire business. I think how we go about doing business should be different.”
He said employers should allow employees to work from home, where possible.
The first confirmed case of the virus in The Bahamas was announced on Sunday at a press conference at the Ministry of Health, where it was revealed that the patient has no recent travel history.
Brennen said officials have yet to determine how the patient, a 61-year-old resident of New Providence, contracted the virus.
The virus, which can cause pneumonia, originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.
Since then, it has spread to all continents except Antarctica.