Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson announced yesterday that a 16-day lockdown implemented on Grand Bahama on July 23 to curb the explosive growth of COVID-19 on that island will be extended to 5 a.m. Wednesday, August 19.
“An extension of the lockdown is not something that would have been preferred, but it is absolutely necessary,” Thompson said during a press conference on Grand Bahama.
He made it clear he was speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, the competent authority.
Dr. Frank Bartlett, who heads Grand Bahama’s COVID-19 task force, put it in much starker terms, noting that five COVID-19-positive cases were hospitalized, over 900 were in quarantine and 310 were in isolation.
He said COVID-19 patients in the second wave are remaining hospitalized for longer periods compared to the first wave. He noted that since the lockdown, no downward trend has been established.
“There is still not strict compliance with the public health and social distancing measures in place,” he said during the same press conference.
“Daily, patients are accessing the healthcare system complaining of symptoms compatible with COVID.”
Bartlett noted that hospitalizations for suspected COVID-19 patients are “surpassing non-COVID-19 patients” and added that ICU bed capacity was at 100 percent for the past month with non-COVID-19 patients.
“If we were to see an increase in sicker/critical patients, the healthcare system will be overwhelmed,” he said.
He also said that there are challenges in manning multiple sites.
Despite this, Grand Bahama did not record any new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, according to the Ministry of Health. This is the first time Grand Bahama hasn’t recorded a new case since July 17.
Thompson said extending the lockdown will help slow and control community spread of the COVID-19 virus on Grand Bahama.
“As of Wednesday, August 5, health officials have confirmed 336 confirmed cases on COVID-19 on the island,” Thompson said.
“The extension of the lockdown is necessary in order to save and protect the lives of the residents of Grand Bahama.
“To be clear, the national lockdown order that took effect for the entire country on Tuesday evening will continue to apply to Grand Bahama through the end of this extended lockdown period.”
Since July 22, all domestic and international flights and sea vessels were prohibited from entering or exiting Grand Bahama, except for emergencies and to transport essential services and goods.
Grand Bahama had eight cases of COVID-19 prior to July 8. Since then, it has seen that number mushroom well beyond 300.
Health officials have pointed to travel by Bahamians to Florida as a factor in the explosion of new cases.
Since being placed on lockdown on July 23, Grand Bahama has seen 255 new cases.
On Tuesday, the country was placed on a two-week national lockdown, which ends on August 19.
When he announced the lockdown on August 3, Minnis said, “We are taking the required and necessary measures to comprehensively battle COVID-19.”
He noted that the country’s ICU beds are at capacity and that non-critical care beds are approaching capacity.