Health officials should be more forthcoming

Dear Editor,

I just finished watching the Ministry of Health’s press conference to update the public on the COVID-19 situation in The Bahamas.

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands’ opening statement was authoritative and informative.

Following the statement, however, the responses to questions from the media were not.

Many responses appeared to be tentative and gave the impression that responders were unsure of information being given or as we say, they were “under heavy manners”.

Precious time was wasted instructing journalists like school children.

Too much emphasis is placed on the number of questions a reporter or news outlet can ask. The rules of the game have been set. Get on with it.

I think the briefing should facilitate as many questions as possible and responses should be given with candor so that reporters and the public feel that they have full information.

In the future, it is suggested that those responding to questions be as declarative as possible. For example, today’s briefing might have been along the following lines:

1. We now have nine positive cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. Of these, one person, the first patient, is recovered and has been released from the hospital.

2. Eight of the COVID-19 patients are resident on New Providence.

3. One is resident on Grand Bahama.

4. None of the infected patients now require hospitalization.

5. The first three cases were related.

6. Case No 4 had no contact with any other known infected person. And so on… This info should not have to be dragged out by the journalists; they are known facts.

7. “X” persons are in quarantine in a facility operated by the Ministry of Health on a 24-hour basis.

8. “Y” persons are in self-isolation at home because their symptoms are so mild as not to require observation by medical staff.

9. Contact tracing is underway in respect of each infected person.

10. Those with close exposure to infected persons are being tested.

11. So far, “X” tests of contacts have been conducted.

12. These tests resulted in only nine positive outcomes, “XX” negative outcomes and we are awaiting results on an additional “YY” tests.

13. All contacts of infected persons who are not exhibiting symptoms and who did not have significant or prolonged contact with an infected person are being advised of symptoms that they should be conscious of and told to contact their doctors or the COVID-19 hotline should symptoms appear.

14. Infected persons thus far live and work in the following communities:

a. ____

b. ____

c. ____

15. Persons in communities thus far unaffected are advised to follow social distancing and the other recommendations from the Ministry of Health on washing hands, covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and cleaning surfaces to help in keeping their communities virus free.

16. Persons in communities where infections have been identified should be especially meticulously following the directives of the Ministry of Health and following the COVID-19 Order and Regulations.

17. All Bahamians are reminded that the country is under a 24 hour a day curfew. Everyone should leave home only for essential purposes and at all time practice social distancing. On returning home everyone should be certain to wash their hands and to disinfect any new items being brought into the home.

Concerned Bahamian

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