The third wave of COVID-19 infections in The Bahamas is “basically” at an end, Dr. Nikkiah Forbes said yesterday.
But Forbes, the director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, and one of the leading voices on the fight against COVID in The Bahamas, warned residents not to become lax during the holiday season.
“We’re at the end of the third wave, basically,” she said.
“We’ve seen a sustained decrease in the number of cases over a significant period of weeks. The hospitalizations are down, the deaths are down. The percent positivity in the tests are also going down – all very, very good.”
The latest COVID numbers reported by the Ministry of Health showed that 15 new cases were reported on November 23. Nine of those cases had a recent history of travel. Hospitalizations are also down to 16. Just two months ago, daily cases, on some days, exceed 100, and hospitalizations were in the triple digits.
The third wave began around March 2021.
As the holiday season approaches, Forbes said residents must continue to observe the public health protocols.
“… Our cases were at a low last year this time, too,” she said.
“So, you have to consider, are there things that are impacting the curve, like our behavior?”
She added, “These surges related to summer, the summer travel, and gatherings both in 2020 and this year.
“Now last year, the Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday, there were a number of recommendations about reducing holiday gatherings.
“Last year in the US, there was an advisory that people should not travel during the Thanksgiving period in the US, that there were a number of recommendations to cut down on holiday gatherings and other things.
“But that’s different this year and, so, we have to be mindful that if we are traveling … there could be an uptick in COVID-19 cases both here and in the US.
“We have to be careful. Travel is an independent risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.”
She noted that a number of COVID cases in the country are travel-related.
She reiterated that “we have to make sure that we have good mitigation and good public measures in place”.
“I’m talking about mask-wearing, vaccination, and following the other public health protocols,” she said.
“Universal mask-wearing. We need everybody to wear a mask properly fitting over the nose, mouth, and chin with a well-woven material. Masks can cut down on the incidence of COVID by 53 percent, that alone.”
She said this risk reduction strategy, of being vaccinated, wearing masks properly, and avoiding large crowds, can help limit the spread of COVID-19.
“We have to remember that as we go into the holiday season,” she said.