Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr. Sabriquet Pinder-Butler is cautioning against the lifting of the quarantine requirement for domestic and international travelers without an adequate alternative in place.
Pinder-Butler said especially given that contact tracers are currently overwhelmed, it is a decision that requires serious thought.
“We have to be careful when we remove measures, that we think about what else we’re going to put in place,” she said.
“Are we going to have persons being tested when they come in the country?
“Are we going to be able to further sustain our contact tracing so that if someone becomes ill quickly, or even their test becomes positive, we’re going to be able to quickly identify them and notify all persons that they came in contact with in a timely fashion?
“We know that one of our rate-limiting steps is the timeliness with which we’re able to actually trace these contacts. And that’s because our numbers have far surpassed what it is that we’re able to trace for a small country.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said recently the government will soon announce a plan to remove the quarantine requirement for those entering the country and those traveling between islands.
Minnis also said The Bahamas appears to be nearing the end of its second wave of infections. Hours after his statement, 151 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the country.
Many more have been confirmed since then, with the total confirmed cases standing at 3,838 up to Saturday with 1,717 active and 93 hospitalized. There have been 89 deaths and 14 are under investigation.
Pinder-Butler said the healthcare system is overwhelmed as cases and deaths continue to rise and many in the public continue to ignore health protocols.
“We should not have to wait until we personally see a loved one die from COVID-19 or not be able to access the hospital or healthcare institutions because there is no space,” she said.
“There is no staff to help because all the staff are busy taking care of everyone else. We can’t wait. But I think we are there.”
Pinder-Butler said that while increased testing could explain some of the new cases, with confirmed community spread, there will continue to be more cases of COVID in The Bahamas.
“We also know that as you have more community spread, you’re going to also have more cases,” she said.
“So, we expect that those numbers will increase, which certainly is a concern for us because we’re still managing patients who are sick with COVID-19 and our hospitals are full.
“Our COVID centers have lots of patients that we’re dealing with on a daily basis.
“Contact tracing units are overwhelmed with patients. So, certainly this is concerning for us as we have reopened the country and some more things have been reopened.”
Pinder-Butler said that rules to deal with those who do not adhere to protocols must be enforced.
“Cases have increased,” she said. “A lot of persons in country are still not following the rules.
“I mean we’ve been talking about this a lot. I don’t think it’s time for us to continue to beg our people to do the right thing. Certainly the measures that we have noted that should be in place for persons not following protocol, they need to be enacted.
“We know that we have about 80 or so deaths in country. That’s significant and we haven’t had our ‘third wave’. We’re still in the second wave.
“So, as this continues to progress, because it will progress and it’s not ending right now, we have to do what is the right thing. We cannot throw our hands up and say if people are going on the beach let them stay on the beach for longer hours.
“We have to make sure that if we see that people aren’t doing the right things that we make sure that they know that they are putting other persons in country at risk. If it is that they need to be fined, then we need to fine them and we need to do the right thing as citizens of this country.
“We have lost enough citizens to COVID already. There are enough households that are still struggling with this condition and we need to do the right thing.”
She added, “Be concerned. We have to do our part. We know that a vaccine is not going to happen tomorrow or the next day and probably not for months.”
The Ministry of Health said yesterday that due to circumstances beyond its control, its Sunday dashboard will not be released.