Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020
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Losing confidence in PM’s handling of COVID-19 response 

Dear Editor,

At the beginning of our unwelcome journey through the problem which is COVID-19, I felt comfortable and safe.

We had a well-respected doctor as our minister of health, and a prime minister who had, as a previous minister of heath, guided us through other serious epidemics.

We also had a fantastic health team headed by internationally renowned Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis; supported by Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, a specialist epidemiologist; Dr. Pearl McMillan and Dr. Delon Brennen.

These persons were further supported by other competent and dedicated medical professionals, particularly nurses.

Regular press conferences were held by the Ministry of Health, with the minister in attendance, and the prime minister himself held press conferences answering questions from reporters.

Some weeks into our journey with lockdowns and curfews, I am not feeling as comfortable as I did before.

I accepted the lockdowns and curfews, although I had difficulty understanding some portions of it. But I have great difficulty with the ad hoc minister of health not appearing at recent press conferences and leaving political questions unanswered, as medical personnel are not able to respond to such questions.

Further, the prime minister no longer hosts press conferences; he addresses the nation and burning issues are left in limbo.

For instance, the competent authority under the emergency powers recently granted an interview with a reporter from the state radio station. At that time he attempted to let us know why some islands were opened and others remained closed although none had cases of the virus.

We were given a lecture on the importance of crabs to the economy of Andros. However, he was not questioned about the value of the pineapple industry to the Eleuthera farmer, and, as far as I know, this period is much shorter than the crab season. Also, if my memory serves me right, Exuma has quite a crab industry as well.

I have been somewhat perplexed concerning what businesses should be opening and the criteria for such openings.

For instance, the gaming houses have not been allowed to open.

As they are now legal entities, and if they are following proper health protocols, it would appear that morals or some other factor is involved in keeping the doors shut.

I also do not understand why fishermen are not allowed to sell their fish. This would provide healthier eating for Bahamians than the fast food fare.

Yes, Prime Minister, with your added power comes more responsibility and the need for more transparency. A good start would be to make yourself available to the national press and not to just one portion thereof.

I am further concerned with the hefty punishments which have been attached to curfew breaches and the sentences being handed down. Please, police and judicial officers, show some compassion. Why make a jailbird out of a coconut water and jelly vendor? Or a person in need of water? A bit of discretion will not go amiss in these troubled times.

Thanks to the kind persons who came to the aid of the young man who was trying to avoid being a crime statistic.

 

Jeanne Thompson

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