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Despite contradictory statements between PM, Wells, ministry denies conflict

The Ministry of Health insisted yesterday there was no miscommunication between Minister of Health Renward Wells and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis over the use of SuperClubs Breezes to house patients.

Minnis said in the House of Assembly on Wednesday the Cable Beach hotel is not being used to house COVID-positive individuals and branded as “fake news” reports to the contrary.

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

“The Ministry of Health is aware of the headline ‘PM conflicts with Wells’, printed in The Nassau 

Guardian today, September 10, 2020,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The article refers to a statement made by the minister of health on August 14, 2020. The Ministry of Health makes it unequivocally clear that there is no conflict or miscommunication between the minister of health and the prime minister.”

But Minnis and Wells have not consistently been on the same page regarding the use of the Breezes.

At a Ministry of Health press conference on August 28, as he touted improved bed capacity for COVID patients, Wells said there were 18 beds available at SuperClubs Breezes for housing those patients.

“For COVID-19 response, there are…18 beds currently available at the 62-bed National Response Facility at SuperClubs Breezes resort,” he said.

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.”

At a Ministry of Health press conference on August 14, Wells said: “Breezes has been secured offsite for quarantining and treating suspected COVID-19 cases. 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”.

However, in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Minnis said there was “misinformation” that COVID patients were being housed at the hotel.

“I only want to remind the public that there’s been some misinformation,” he said.

“Breezes hotel, which has been offered, [is] assisting the Ministry of Health in establishing itself as a hospital facility for strictly non-COVID patients.

“All patients at Breezes are non-COVID. 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.”

In his communication in the House on Wednesday, Wells also emphasized that Breezes is being used only to accommodate non-COVID patients.

“Just over a week ago, the prime minister and I toured the east wing of Breezes, now repurposed to accommodate 61 care rooms for medical, surgical, non-COVID, minimal risk patients,” he said.

Neither Minnis nor Wells acknowledged that he (Wells) had previously said otherwise.

The Ministry of Health yesterday thanked SuperClubs Breezes for its assistance throughout the pandemic.

“The Ministry of Health wishes to thank SuperClubs Breezes for its willing cooperation and for being a good corporate citizen and partnering with the government of The Bahamas during the fight against COVID-19,” it said.

“Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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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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