As he sought to make a case for another extension to the state of emergency, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis highlighted the deadly impact that COVID-19 has had around the world in recent weeks and the emergence of more dangerous variants of the virus.
“Countries are struggling with record cases, hospitalizations and death,” he said in the House of Assembly today as he led debate on a resolution to extend the state of emergency to May 23.
“…The official death toll is more than two million, with around 100 million confirmed cases.
“In the United States of America more than 400,000 individuals have died and it is projected that by the end of this month that would be in excess of half a million.
“We have a population of 400,000 and if we were to follow that course or pattern, every Bahamian within The Bahamas would have been dead.”
Minnis said the measures currently in place have helped to stop the first and second waves in The Bahamas.
“We need these measures to continue to keep Bahamians safe.”
“…With new strains, it is quite possible for us to have additional waves before our people are vaccinated.
“It may be painful, but we cannot let our guards down.”
The Bahamas is nearly one year into a state of emergency as a result of the COVID pandemic.
The first state of emergency was declared in March, shortly after The Bahamas recorded its first case of COVID-19. However, a “procedural oversight” in the Office of the Attorney General led to the inadvertent expiration of the first state of emergency on June 29, 2020, leading to the governor general’s declaration of a new state of emergency on the same day.
Minnis said the availability of the emergency order is like having life-saving measures such as medicine, equipment and personnel at a hospital.
“Voting against these emergency measures would be like being against the food assistance, the unemployment assistance and the economic assistance put in place by my government. All of these measures, including the emergency measures, were absolutely necessary as part of a comprehensive response to one of the gravest emergencies in our history.”
During his hour-long address, the prime minister also announced that following a reassessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Bahamas will be moved down to a level three travel health notice from the more serious level four.
“This reassessment came after discussions between myself, other Bahamian officials and the U.S. government,” Minnis said.
On the CDC’s website, The Bahamas is still listed as level four country, which indicates a very high level of COVID-19.
Level three indicates a high level of COVID-19.
“We will, I believe, be moved to level 3, because the CDC sees how much progress we have made and are convinced that we will continue to be vigilant,” Minnis continued.
“A part of this vigilance is the availability of quick emergency measures we can use because of the emergency orders.”
The prime minister also used the opportunity to take shots at the opposition, which he categorized as a danger to the country.