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Darville concerned by spike in COVID hospitalizations 

The dramatic spike in the number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 since the start of the year is of “great concern” to health officials, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday, adding that the government is experiencing challenges obtaining field hospitals to address the surge in hospitalizations.

At the start of the year, 36 individuals were hospitalized with the virus. Of that figure, two were in the intensive care unit (ICU).

As of Monday, 148 individuals were hospitalized with COVID-19 — seven of whom were in the ICU.

“Today, we will be having some discussions with some members of the Princess Margaret Hospital and, via Zoom, the Rand Memorial Hospital,” Darville said when asked about the increase in hospitalizations.

“The Omicron variant is definitely a variant where we’re seeing a rise in hospital cases and we’re doing all in our power to ensure that services continue.”

He said the variant, which has not yet been officially confirmed to be present in The Bahamas, is putting “a serious strain” on the public healthcare system.

Darville said this strain is not limited to only the hospitals, noting that the clinics are also feeling the pressure.

“This is a challenge that every country is facing, to keep healthcare services up and going while at the same time providing essential services for those who have other medical conditions,” Darville said.

“We’re working the best we can.”

As of January 17, The Bahamas confirmed 31,376 COVID-19 cases.

More than 6,000 new cases were confirmed in the first 17 days of the year. Health officials believe this increase in cases is linked to Omicron — a highly transmissible variant.

The recent uptick in cases started last month and coincided with the start of The Bahamas’ fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is the country’s worst yet, it has not proven to be as deadly as previous waves, particularly the third which peaked between August and October.

During the third wave, many COVID-positive individuals were hospitalized as a result of severe symptoms associated with the virus.

Health officials have said that this does not appear to be the case with the current wave. 

“In the hospital, cases for COVID-positive, what we’re noticing is that there are many people in the hospital who have other medical conditions who happen to be COVID-positive,” the minister said yesterday.

“But, as far as the cases of COVID are concerned, we realize that those who are in hospital, they have to be moderately ill.

“Because they are moderately ill, we must continue to provide the care to ensure that they are able to recuperate and go from moderately ill to be able to be discharged from hospital.”

Last month, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip Swann said the government was in talks to get an additional field hospital to address bed capacity issues that continue to plague the public healthcare system.

He said it was in “the process of final negotiations” at the time.

Darville said yesterday that there is traction with securing a field hospital after the government approached many countries for assistance.

“Unfortunately, for us in The Bahamas and this administration, we are a new administration and these requests were made two weeks after becoming government,” he said.

“The Omicron variant came very rapidly and a lot of the preliminary work and search for these field hospitals are still ongoing. We have gotten some good replies.

“But, for us, we must be able to function now and, when those facilities come on stream, we will actually add them to what we have.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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