The Bahamas has confirmed its first case of COVID-19, Acting Minister of Health Jeff Lloyd announced today.
The patient, a 61-year-old resident of New Providence, tested positive at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) at midnight, officials said.
The patient was admitted to hospital on Friday with respiratory issues. Lloyd said the patient has been isolated in a designated area at PMH.
“At this time the patient’s exposure is unknown,” said Lloyd during a press conference at the Ministry of Health a short while ago.
Lloyd said the woman has no recent travel history.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said the Ministry of Health is conducting contact tracing to determine where the possible exposure occurred and who the patient came into contact with.
Asked if the patient’s family members are in quarantine, Dr. McMillan suggested that they are not.
She said people who are found to be exposed will be placed in isolation.
“We are early in our investigations,” she said.
“We have our surveillance team carrying out contract tracing.”
Lloyd appealed to the public to remain calm.
“Steps are now being taken to respond to this health threat,” he said.
Dr. McMillan said the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 plan is evolving. She said her team is seeking to put together a surge capacity plan to manage a large number of cases.
She discouraged large gatherings and called on Bahamians to protect themselves.
Lloyd also warned residents to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough with their elbows or sleeve, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, among other measures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday.
The virus, which can cause pneumonia, originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.
Since then, it has spread to all continents except Antarctica, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.
There are more than 150,000 cases of the virus across the globe. Nearly 6,000 people have died, with the majority of deaths in mainland China.