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Health officials have not ruled out recommending full lockdown

Health officials said on Friday they have not ruled out recommending a full two-week lockdown where not even essential businesses would be permitted to be open as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in The Bahamas.

When asked at a Ministry of Health press conference on Friday if health officials were considering making that recommendation, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said, “I am hoping that we won’t have to.”

However, she added that if things don’t improve in the short-term, “I would not say that that recommendation would not come forward.”

A two-week national lockdown is currently in effect and is set to end on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has said that that lockdown may be extended. 

Minnis is scheduled to make a national address tonight.

Speaking on Friday, McMillan said, “The lockdown is about decreasing the likelihood of transmission and by decreasing movement of people.

“This virus is transmitted by people. If we decrease the contact of individuals, we decrease the likelihood of transmission and we increase our chances of actually not having additional cases.”

With 741 cases already reported this month, rumors of an extended lockdown have been making the rounds.

On Friday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen told The Nassau Guardian, “People are throughout the islands. They are congregating. They are mixing with each other.

“So, the same activities that you are trying to prevent are still occurring so there’s no surprise that we’re still going to see the numbers that we are.

“Likely, if that continues, we are going to see higher numbers. We need to have an actual functional lockdown where people aren’t actually moving around.

“There’s no real reason for us to see what appears to be the same amount of movement and traffic that you would on a day when school is open.”

He said The Bahamas would find itself in a position “where it is difficult to suppress the spike” in cases if it continues to take “this approach where we are partly on lockdown”.

When compared to the previous week, there was a 41 percent increase in cases as of Friday, according to McMillan.

McMillan said health officials were “not seeing the impact of the lockdown” on New Providence yet.

She said they were monitoring indicators to determine whether they will recommend more restrictions.

“We look at a number of indicators as it relates to what will actually give us the data required to make the recommendation,” McMillan said.

“We will look across all of those indicators as we move forward; testing is one, and given our capacity challenge, that may be a strong reason why we may need to continue in the lockdown, but certainly that is just one of the indicators that we will look at.” 

The Bahamas has reported 1,315 cases of COVID.

So far, 18 deaths have been reported.

Health officials said eight additional deaths — four on New Providence and four on Grand Bahama — were being investigated.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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