COVID-19 cases in uniform branches manageable, Dames says

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday downplayed the large number of uniformed officers who were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.

“These agencies are very large agencies and they’re just a microcosm of our wider society,” he told reporters outside Cabinet.

“So, it is expected, therefore, that given the nature of what they do and the fact that they are a microcosm of our wider society, we expect that there would be some numbers within the ranks of these agencies impacted.”

His comments came after it was revealed that the large majority of people exposed to COVID-19 in their workplaces were members of the uniformed branches.

According to data provided at a Ministry of Health press conference on Monday, uniformed officers were exposed to COVID-19 while at work, with the majority of them being police officers.

Health officials indicated that 93 police officers on New Providence and Grand Bahama contracted COVID-19 since July 1, resulting in 126 contacts being identified in the police force. In the defense force, there were 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases on New Providence.

Dames said yesterday the defense force has 18 active cases, but only a small number of those cases in the police force are still active.

“I mean, to date, I believe that the defense force has some 18 active cases,” he said.

“The police force [has] three active cases. And so, as far as the police force is concerned, those cases have trended down significantly. And the prison, I believe they may have had two overall cases.

“So when you look at it across the board, these agencies are doing extremely well and we, from the beginning of COVID, each of these agencies would have had their own individual COVID plans and they continue to manage those plans.

“Their plans are much more stringent and strict than what we see on the outside, because we know that if we allow it to run rampant within these agencies, it could have a devastating effect on their ability to deliver services to the Bahamian people.

“And so, to date, while these agencies have been impacted, I think the numbers are all manageable.

“We continue to meet on a daily basis and have discussions with the commissioner of police, the commissioner of corrections, as well as the commodore of the defense force. Part of the reasoning behind that is to look at strategies and see how we can improve and mitigate.

“So, they go the extra step.

“Whenever there is a case, they ensure that the quarantine net is expanded significantly so we can avoid a massive outbreak in these agencies. So, I feel very confident.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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