‘Marked increase in COVID cases’

Health ministry says case rise ‘disconcerting’

There has been a marked increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama that has “become disconcerting”, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

“The Ministry of Health has been closely monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases since January 2021,” the ministry said in its daily COVID-19 press statement.

“Notably, it is observed that there is a marked increase in COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations on the islands of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Abaco that has become disconcerting.

“Consequently, the Ministry of Health encourages the general public to continually adhere to the health precautions – avoid social gatherings, maintain adequate social distancing, wash hands frequently, and wear a mask.

“The public is reminded that COVID-19 vaccinations are now available in-country for those who wish to exercise the option to be vaccinated.”

Between January 2 and March 24, New Providence recorded 599 new COVID-19 cases; Grand Bahama recorded 258 new cases and Abaco recorded 102 new cases.

The latest COVID-19 dashboard, for March 24, showed that there were 33 new cases recorded in The Bahamas: 21 on New Providence; eight on Grand Bahama; two on Abaco; one on Eleuthera and one on Exuma. 

Three of the new cases from New Providence were cases with a history of travel within 14 days, the ministry said. Fifteen of the new cases were males and 18 were females. 

In all, the country recorded 8,986 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020. 

There was a total of 31 people in hospital as of March 24 – 11 at Doctors Hospital; two at South Beach Acute Care and Referral Centre; four at Princess Margaret Hospital and 14 at Grand Bahama Health Services. 

One of the 11 cases at Doctors Hospital was in the intensive care unit, the ministry said. 

In all, there are 928 active cases in the country. There are 7,816 recovered patents.

According to health authorities, 188 people died from COVID-19. Thirty-nine people died with COVID but not because of it, and 15 deaths remain under investigation. 

A total of 450 tests were conducted on March 24.

The ministry recently warned of an increase of cases on Grand Bahama, noting that the majority of cases were travel-related. 

Increase in
campaign events

The warning from the ministry comes after a notable increase in political party campaign events where large crowds have been gathering in the streets or parks, but there is no evidence this is responsible for increased cases. 

The current emergency order outlaws social gatherings. 

However, this past Saturday, both the Free National Movement (FNM) and the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) took to the streets to persuade Bahamians to support them and their respective candidates.

Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle was recently asked about the campaign events. While he said he has not seen any of the political gatherings, he said he heard that “they were complying with the emergency orders”.

“…I would encourage all of the persons who are going about to do their demonstrations to abide by the social distancing,” he said.

“I think they said that they were doing that.”

On March 13, when asked to respond to Bahamians who might question the number of people participating in the walkabout, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said, “Every individual [is] wearing their mask.

“They’re wearing it properly and when we visit homes, they don’t go inside. What happens is only two or three would go – myself and the candidate.

“If it’s a very elder[ly] individual, we speak to them from the outside. We don’t go inside. In terms of the numbers, the numbers are large; but in addition to that, the numbers [are] adhering to the protocols that we put in place.”

The Bahamas recently received 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the government of India.

The government of The Bahamas is awaiting 100,800 doses from the COVAX Facility with the first shipment of 33,600 doses expected by early April.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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