Health officials yesterday touted a slower than expected increase in new COVID-19 cases as proof of the success of the 24-hour curfew and weekend shutdowns the government has implemented in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, said prior to the first total shutdown on Palm Sunday weekend, The Bahamas was on track to see exponential growth in new cases.
Officials said they were expecting 90 cases by Easter. So far, however, there are 54 confirmed cases in the country and nine COVID-19 deaths.
“We have probably avoided 26 additional cases by the lockdown over the Easter holiday,” said Dahl-Regis during a virtual press conference.
Dahl-Regis, however, conceded that this could be due to a lack of widespread testing.
“We will see more cases,” she said.
“We are hoping that the severity of those cases are not what has been. But we do expect to have more cases. We would evaluate the success or the management of our cases based on those that require a hospital stay, those that we could manage at home and those that require critical care or ICU care.
“But we anticipate to have more cases but less severe cases.”
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen indicated that only symptomatic people are being tested for COVID-19, with health care workers looking to re-enter the health care system being the only exception.
When asked how this could be impacting the recorded growth in cases, Dahl-Regis said health officials can only go off the information they have.
“I can only share with you the date and the number of cases that we have recorded based on our testing of the sick and the symptomatic. And based on our resources, that’s what we did,” she said.
Dahl-Regis added, “To me, it is apparent that the sacrifices made during that Easter weekend paid off.”
Health officials have indicated plans to increase testing.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands reported yesterday that 668 COVID-19 tests have been conducted thus far.
Eight hundred and ninety-five people were “in quarantine”, according to the COVID-19 dashboard released by the Ministry of Health last night.
However, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan said at the press conference that officials have received word that not everyone who has been asked to quarantine at home is doing so.
The case fatality rate from COVID-19 in The Bahamas has consistently been over 15 percent for the past few weeks.
Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, said the high rate is due to a lack of widespread testing.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis also noted that the case fatality rate is expected to decrease with increased testing.
Minnis ordered a 24-hour curfew on March 20, several days after the first COVID-19 case was recorded in The Bahamas.
The country was on a five-day lockdown over the Easter holidays. Weekend lockdowns have been ordered for the rest of April