The Bahamas ranks last among 184 countries in the COVID-19 recovery index, according to a report issued by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI).
The GCI report, published on July 28, gave The Bahamas an index score of 6.99 out 100, putting it at the bottom of the countries that have made the most progress in curtailing the spread of the pandemic.
The score indicates that The Bahamas is among the countries who are “struggling to cope with the crisis and who may need to consider maintaining stringent non-pharmaceutical measures”.
It received a 33.67 out of 100 in the report’s severity index.
This indicates that The Bahamas is among the countries “who are coping with the crisis with a low percentage of infections and resulting deaths per population”, according the report.
The Bahamas also ranks lowest in the region, followed by the Dominican Republic with a score of 22.57 and Guyana with 33.46.
St. Lucia ranked highest in Caribbean with a score of 56.75, followed by Dominica with 54.01 and St. Kitts and Nevis with 52.99.
Health and government officials are currently battling a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas.
There were 104 cases reported during the first wave, which started in March and ended in June.
A state of emergency was declared in March as a result of the pandemic and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis imposed a series of restrictions — including weekend lockdowns, nightly curfews and border closures — following the confirmation of The Bahamas’ first cases.
On June 28, Minnis, who was also serving as minister of health, encouraged Bahamians to be “very proud of what we have done in the spirit of love and unity”.
He cited a BBC News interview where a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), professor described The Bahamas’ response to COVID-19 as “excellent”.
On July 8, which marked the first day of The Bahamas’ second wave, the prime minister touted that the country had been “a model nation” during the first wave of the pandemic.
He said this was the result of The Bahamas’ handling of the health crisis and “because we locked down early”.
“We have been widely praised internationally, news which has apparently not reached some quarters, including the opposition, which seems to be deaf and blind to any news that does not suit their agenda,” Minnis said in the House of Assembly.
“Mr. Speaker, my government took the crisis seriously from the beginning.”
The Bahamas has reported 794 new cases since the prime minister gave that address.
The total now stands at 898 with 777 active cases.
On June 24, while speaking at the Commonwealth COVID-19 virtual leader’s meeting, Minnis said his government recognized that preparation for the pandemic had to be “different and had to take on greater complexities”.
“At the outset of our response, there was the urgent need to identify additional health facilities and to repurpose health facilities for managing positive cases, while providing a safe environment for staff to work,” he said.
“Adequate quantities of appropriate equipment and supplies were procured for all frontline groups, including the health sector, other government ministries and agencies, for caregivers in nursing homes and other congregate residential facilities across our extensive archipelago.”
Nearly five months after its first COVID-19 case was confirmed, The Bahamas still lacks adequate bed capacity to manage an influx of cases.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the government promised a 20-unit COVID-19 facility on the Royal Bahamas Defence Force’s (RBDF) Coral Harbour Base.
However, in April, RBDF Commodore Dr. Raymond King told The Nassau Guardian that plans for the facility were scrapped.
There are 30 COVID-19 beds on New Providence and 16 on Grand Bahama, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan.
On July 24, she said Grand Bahama, which was declared a hotspot, was fast approaching its bed capacity.
On Friday, with 30 cases hospitalized, Minister of Health Renward Wells noted that, “While improving health infrastructure to accommodate this and potentially other waves is our chief objective, ensuring the most efficient use of beds is also critical.”
He noted that there are 33 boarders staying at Princess Margaret Hospital, adding that health officials “need those beds”.
In a national address on Sunday, the prime minister said sourcing of private facilities and reshuffling patient treatment centers would result in an increased capacity of 80 beds.