Seven hundred and twelve people were in quarantine yesterday, a more than 200-person increase over the 492 who were in quarantine the day before as health officials monitor them for possible exposure to COVID-19.
According to Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen, 709 of these people were self-quarantining at home and three were in quarantine facilities.
Brennen said the sharp increase is a result of the influx of contacts of new cases identified over the weekend, as well as contacts of older cases who were only recently identified.
“The more the cases have an opportunity to evaluate where they may have socialized, the people they may have come into contact [with] via work, their family members, their lists get extended,” Brennen said.
“So prior cases, from before the long holiday weekend, let us know about more of their contacts along with the new cases that we’ve had over the course of the weekend. They gave us their contacts as well.
“Now that we have some people who are finishing up their quarantine period based on previous cases, that number will likely decrease going into the middle of this week and the remainder of this week as well.”
Brennen said not everyone who is in quarantine will be tested.
“As we acquire additional supplies, then we can modify our testing strategy in order to test more of the contacts and additional health care workers and [the] like.
“So, it is likely that some of them will fall into that category, but not all of them will because even with that having more testing supplies, we will still have to make sure that we’re testing according to our algorithm. So, we’re not just going to test people at random. We’re going to make sure that people still fit within our testing criteria.”
Brennen said the testing criteria vary depending on if the person is a health care worker or a non-health care worker.
He said that contacts in both groups are asked to quarantine and are tested if they display symptoms of COVID-19 during the quarantine period.
However, he said all health care workers are tested before going back into clinical care, whether or not they developed symptoms.
Brennen said they use multiple avenues to ensure that people who were told to self-quarantine are doing that.
“We do calls, spot checks,” he said.
“And then if we’re not able to reach them via phone or spot check, then we have the ability, using the Quarantine Act, to ask the uniformed branches, whether that’s the Royal Bahamas Police Force or Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to assist us with being able to locate persons.”
Asked whether it has ever been necessary to contact law enforcement agencies, Brennen said there have been “rare occasions” when it’s come to that.
In a national address on Monday night, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the Ministry of Health will expand its COVID-19 testing this week.
He predicted this will lead to an increase in the number of cases in The Bahamas and, therefore, a decrease in the case fatality rate.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that approximately 600 people have been tested for COVID-19 so far.
Sands said health officials expect to test a few hundred more people by the end of this week.
As of yesterday, there were 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. Eight people have died of the disease.