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COVID patients were initially at Breezes

Individuals suspected of having COVID-19 were housed at SuperClubs Breezes and were removed from the Cable Beach hotel and taken to other facilities after they were confirmed to be positive, according to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) Chief of Staff Dr. Caroline Burnett-Garraway.

The revelation came days after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said COVID patients were not held at the hotel and labeled reports to the contrary as “fake news”. His comments were in spite of previous comments from Minister of Health Renward Wells, who said there were 18 beds available for COVID patients at Breezes.

Burnett-Garraway said yesterday the Breezes facility was opened for the purpose of housing persons under investigation (PUIs). She said those at the facility who tested positive for COVID-19 were moved out as soon as there was space to house them in other designated facilities.

“The Breezes facility, the National Response Centre, was opened because we had a need for management of persons under investigation (PUIs),” she said at a Ministry of Health press conference yesterday.

“At the time that came on stream, the hospital was overwhelmed, the whole healthcare system with PUIs. So, we had 18 beds placed there along with adequate staff for mild to moderate PUIs to be managed there with the understanding that if we got back a positive test, those persons would immediately, or once a facility was available, be moved from Breezes, either to Doctors Hospital West, back to Princess Margaret Hospital, or to the South Beach Clinic.

“At this time, because our labs are so efficient, the results are coming back very quickly. And, as you know, there’s a surge.

“So, we have a lot more positive cases. So, positive cases were not kept at the Breezes hotel. However, we did have persons when we found out they were positive, they were moved as soon as we could get them out of there.”

In the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Minnis said Breezes was only being used for “non-COVID” individuals.

“All patients at Breezes are non-COVID,” he said.

“So, the fake news and misinformation out there that Breezes has COVID patients, thus impacting its future, is fake news. It’s all non-COVID patients.”

However, Wells said on August 14 that suspected COVID-positive patients were being cared for at the hotel.

“Breezes has been secured offsite for quarantining and treating suspected COVID-19 cases,” Wells said.

“This approach minimizes the potential spread of the virus among non-COVID-19 patients and staff within the Princess Margaret Hospital. Resources inclusive of security have also been enhanced at Breezes to treat patients under our care.”

On August 9, during a national address, Minnis said Breezes will be used to meet “the needs of non-COVID-19 low medical care patients during the pandemic”.

But in an August 27 press release from Bahamas Information Services regarding Minnis’ and Wells’ tour of Breezes, it was stated that the facility was identified as a “National Response Facility”.

The press release read: “…the prime minister and Minister Wells toured SuperClubs Breezes, which has been identified as a national response facility to accommodate mild to moderate patients under investigation for COVID-19. There are approximately 60 beds for the patients.”

Wells followed up in his speech on August 28, “For COVID-19 response, there are [18] beds currently available at the 62-bed National Response Facility at SuperClubs Breezes resort.”

However, in the House of Assembly last week, Wells did not include the 18 beds at Breezes in his tally of available beds for COVID patients.

Yesterday, before Burnett-Garraway addressed the situation at Breezes, Wells maintained that position, critiquing The Guardian for an article that noted that his and the prime minister’s statements have been contradictory.

“The Ministry of Health did put out a press release as to the position of Breezes,” he said.

“Interestingly enough, the news report that most folks are referring to, the paper came out on Thursday morning. But it was 24 hours before that on Wednesday in the House of Assembly, around 11 o’clock in the day, the prime minister and I said the exact same thing about what was taking place at Breezes.

“But that was not what was reported the next day in the papers.”

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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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