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‘I am furious’

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday expressed fury with The Bahamas nearing its bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, noting that “we are a nation in crisis”.

His comments came after The Bahamas experienced nearly 500 COVID-19 cases last month — a significant increase in comparison to the 104 reported in the first four months of the country’s pandemic.

Both health and government officials have attributed the spike in cases to Bahamians traveling to COVID hotspots after The Bahamas reopened its borders on July 1.

In a statement, Davis said, “The prime minister knew; he knew when he opened our borders that our testing capabilities were not sufficient and that our contact tracing system was not strong enough to handle a surge of new cases.

“He knew but he chose not to tell Bahamians. We asked questions about the nation’s ability to test, trace and isolate dozens of times. No answers were given. For weeks, the prime minister has used these national addresses as a crutch, a way to issue orders but shield himself from tough questions from the media.

“I am furious to learn that our ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds are full. A patient with COVID-19 can require weeks of critical care treatment. What will happen to those being diagnosed now with the virus?

“Where will they go when they need critical care? It is indefensible that the government waited until this moment to act. 

“In the meantime, doctors and nurses are being treated as disposable. We are months into this crisis. How is it that the government has failed to support and protect them?”

One hundred and forty-one cases have been reported in The Bahamas so far this month.

Thirty-six of those cases were reported yesterday alone.

On July 24, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said Grand Bahama, which has reported more than 300 new cases in the last month, was “fast approaching its bed capacity” for COVID-19 patients.

There are 30 COVID-19 beds on New Providence and 16 on Grand Bahama, according to McMillan.

At the time of her comments, there were 11 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

As of last night, there were 22 hospitalizations. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the recent “exponential increase” in cases has caused the country’s bed capacity and human resources to become “increasingly stretched”.

That same day, Minnis announced a two-week national lockdown following the strain of COVID-19 on the health system.

“This lockdown is only necessary because of a series of specific mistakes made by this government,” Davis said yesterday, referring to the lockdown.

“A lockdown is a blunt instrument, a last resort, when everything else has failed. And the government has failed.” 

He added, “Earlier lockdowns in which economic activity was stopped, at enormous cost to small businesses and families, bought the government some time to act.

“They should have used that time to upgrade our hospitals and clinics to meet this moment of crisis. The Rand [Memorial Hospital] in Freeport especially is in a shocking state.

“Hubert Minnis promised transparency but he won’t answer questions. He promised accountability but blames Bahamians for his mistakes.”

Davis said Minnis has an obligation to face the media and the people.

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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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