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Health ministry: COVID fatigue driving latest uptick

Amid a continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas in recent weeks, Ministry of Health and Wellness Registrar Philip Swann said COVID fatigue appears to be driving the latest uptick.

“Basically, we think it is more related to COVID fatigue,” he said during an Office of the Prime Minister press conference.

“There are persons who are pushing for mask mandates to be removed and some of them are just going along the way and removing those mask mandates themselves.”

Swann’s comments came after several New Providence schools shut down campuses this week due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and exposures among staff and students.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Health said 38 cases had been reported in schools across the country in the previous four weeks, as of May 10.

“These cases were dispersed over a number of schools and represent a small proportion of the overall COVID-19 caseload,” the statement read.

“The ministry also confirms that no clusters have been reported within schools in the Family Islands.

“While these numbers do not reflect an outbreak in our community, the Ministry of Health and Wellness maintains that it is imperative that individuals continue to strictly adhere to the standard health safety protocols of hand sanitization, the appropriate wearing of masks – especially in closed quarters, and to isolate or quarantine as appropriate if suspected of or testing positive for COVID-19 infections.”

Stephen Dillet Primary School, St. Anne’s School, Queen’s College and Saint Augustine’s College all advised parents on Wednesday of plans to temporarily return to virtual learning due to cases on their campuses.

However, the Ministry of Health said it did not recommend the closure of any schools.

“The Ministry wishes to underscore the importance of strong relationships with schools and its surveillance unit/contact tracing team in guiding decisions to manage potential health challenges related to infectious diseases as such decisions have both academic and psychological consequences on the nation’s student,” it said.

“That being said, the Ministry of Health & Wellness has not recommended the closure of any schools during the past several weeks.”

After more than a year of draconian measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Davis administration has removed many restrictions and emphasized the importance of personal responsibility.

Large events still require the approval of the Ministry of Health and mask-wearing remains largely mandatory indoors.

With the government having given authorization for carnival events, which is slated to happen in just over a week’s time, Swann urged attendees to be responsible.

“It’s an outdoor event that’s going over a long distance for say 500 to 1,500 persons,” he said.

“… The approval to have the event is just that, approval to have the event. It’s not a waiving of any of the public health measures that we have asked persons to adhere to.

“Coming back to individual responsibility, if you are saying that you are going to this event, I am sure that you are not going to this event to catch COVID.

“So, I would hope that as you go to this event to have fun, you would take some measures to protect yourself from contracting COVID and carrying it home to relatives or carrying it to your workplace.”

There were 340 active COVID cases in The Bahamas as of the latest update on May 10.

At the time, eight people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Swann said yesterday that most of the individuals hospitalized with COVID were in the hospital because of other issues.

“We have zero persons who are in hospital requiring advanced care and the majority of the persons who are in hospital who are on the hospitalization list actually are there for another reason and not because they are ill with COVID,” he said.

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Rachel Scott

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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