Darville dismisses Minnis’ call for tighter restrictions

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville yesterday dismissed former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis’ call for tighter COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’ve listened to the former prime minister,” Darville told The Nassau Guardian.

“I’ve listened to the former minister of health. I can say this much, that I take what they’re saying into 

consideration, but I feel this is the most we have heard from the [former] prime minister in the last 18 months as it relates to COVID. The reality is that COVID should not be politicized.

“I am in the seat. The [former] prime minister and the former minister had an opportunity to make necessary changes in the fight against COVID. I found a broken system and I think they have lost an opportunity.

“I believe that the time has come for us to stop fighting in a political arena when it comes to COVID and let us work together so we come up with strategic tools that we can do a better job fighting this pandemic.”

Darville, who was sworn in as minister after the Progressive Liberal assumed office last month, said the government will not be distracted from what it is trying to accomplish. 

The Bahamas is still dealing with a worrying third wave of COVID cases.

A day after being elected, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis relaxed the curfew on multiple islands, including New Providence, moving it to 11:59 p.m.

Since then, new COVID cases appear to have decreased, though positivity rates still remain high. Health officials, including former Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands, have also warned that COVID deaths are continuing at a disturbing rate, with hospitals still overwhelmed.

Darville said on Tuesday that the government does not intend to impose any additional COVID-related restrictions at this point.

He noted that the government is watching the situation “extremely closely” and assured that if the government sees the need to implement more restrictions, it would do so.

Despite this assurance, Minnis on Wednesday urged the government to implement more restrictive measures to get a handle on the spread of the virus.

“The FNM is very concerned with the amount of partying, socialization and events occurring here in The Bahamas, as the death rate remains high,” he told this newspaper.

“I again call on the government to introduce more aggressive measures for large gatherings that we are seeing today.”

Minnis accused the Davis administration of “dropping the ball” with securing more doses.

Darville also dismissed this accusation yesterday.

“We are out there every day looking for vaccines,” he said.

“I can tell you that thanks to the Canadian government and our friends at PAHO (the Pan American Health Organization) we have acquired another batch of AstraZeneca vaccine through the Canadian government. I believe that batch is somewhere around 50,000 … and many other countries have reached out to us.

“So we are doing our work. We are a government just under one month and I think we are doing quite a relatively good job in acquiring additional vaccines.” 

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as of Saturday, 115,153 people were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in The Bahamas (including Johnson & Johnson vaccine), and a total of 127,798 people had received at least one dose of a vaccine (not including Johnson & Johnson).

The national vaccination campaign has been ongoing since March.

The Bahamas has secured more than 500,000 doses of three vaccines: Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

Roughly 57,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in the country early next month through the COVAX Facility.

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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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