National Review

Numbers tell the story

The Bahamas hit a melancholy milestone of 3,000-plus COVID-19 cases on Monday, with roughly half of those cases still active.

It has been six months since the country’s first case — a 61-year-old resident of New Providence, tested positive at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), health officials said.

Sadly, we are far off from bringing the crisis under control.

A newly released graph of cumulative COVID-19 cases by specimen collection date shows that the cumulative case line continues to climb.

“This line reminds that we remain in the fight against COVID-19,” said Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Pearl McMillan at a Ministry of Health press conference on Monday.

One positive sign is that Grand Bahama’s curve is flattening.

“The public will recall that Grand Bahama had a…lockdown, which commenced on July 23, 2020. Two incubation periods later, Grand Bahama has been experiencing decreasing numbers of new cases for the past three weeks and subsequent flattening of the curve,” McMillan said.

We hope that this is not the result of decreased testing, but a reflection of the state of COVID-19 on the island, despite the fact that many with COVID-19 will likely never get tested.

Doctors Hospital Health System (DHH) has been handling the lion’s share of testing. It also processes samples from Lucayan Medical Centre on Grand Bahama, but the graph provided by health authorities does not show what percentage of DHH samples is from Grand Bahama.

DHH went from handling 1,600 tests to just over 800 in the last week. Doctors Hospital CEO Charles Sealy explained yesterday that they reduced testing briefly as they put in place measures to build capacity and are back up and running fully.

Princess Margaret Hospital and the National Reference Laboratory account for a small percentage of the tests.

Nationally, the largest number of COVID-19 tests was conducted the week of August 31 — 23 percent of tests were positive.

Another graph included in the CMO’s latest report made public at the press conference shows that New Providence remains in a critical position as it relates to COVID-19.

“New Providence now accounts for the largest number of new COVID-19 cases each day,” McMillan said.

“The data shows that cumulative cases continue to reflect increase in New Providence. Over the past week, however, incidence or new cases in New Providence have been on a decline. On average, for the last week, 40 new cases are being reported in New Providence per day.”

The graph — New Providence incident and cumulative COVID-19 cases by specimen collection date (July 2020 to-date) — shows that the highest case count for the island during the course of the pandemic was on September 1 when more than 90 specimen collections resulted in positive cases.

Since then, cases by specimen collections on particular days have ranged from below 10 to over 70.

Between September 8 and September 14, health officials reported 369 new cases on New Providence.

The week before (September 1 to 7), 289 new cases were reported. During August 25 to August 31, 349 news cases were reported. And during August 18 to August 24, 368 new cases were reported on New Providence.

Those numbers show no clear trend of declining cases for the island, but they are also not the truest indication of the state of affairs during the mentioned weeks because they do not reflect when the samples were taken.

During the first wave, COVID-19 cases were confirmed on New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini and Cat Cay.

In the second wave, which commenced after the full reopening of the country’s borders on July 1, cases have been confirmed on 14 islands.

The latest dashboard reflects 3,032 cases; 1,482 recovered; 1,461 active; 66 hospitalized; 69 COVID-19 deaths; nine non-COVID-related deaths; 11 deaths under investigation; and 15,510 tests completed.

There have been 27 times more confirmed COVID-19 cases in the second wave of infections in The Bahamas than in the first, McMillan noted.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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