With no vaccine for COVID-19, the best medicine to stop the virus is physical distancing, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reiterated in the House of Assembly on Monday. With more than 70,000 people dead, globally, due to the pandemic, Minnis stressed the importance of social distancing as means of prevention.
“We must stay apart as much as possible to prevent the spread of this coronavirus and more deaths. That is why I began the curfew and lockdown measures,” he said while announcing a second complete lockdown, which will be implemented effective Wednesday, April 8 at 9 p.m., ending on Tuesday, April 14 at 5 a.m., at which time the 24-hour curfew will again resume.
“They are essential to save lives. As prime minister and as a medical doctor, it is my duty to do what is necessary to protect our people. We, therefore, had to strengthen measures because we are in a surge and there is community spread.”
As of Monday, The Bahamas had 33 confirmed COVID-19 cases, five deaths and 325 people in quarantine. Globally, there has been 1,260,104 cases.
“It has killed young and old; rich and poor. No one is exempt. No one has found to be immune from this deadly virus,” said Minnis.
Due to asymptomatic carriers of the virus and based on medical advice, he said longer lockdown periods may be imposed over the coming weeks.
Under the 24-hour curfew, a person may only physically exercise in his own yard, or on the roadways in his immediate neighborhood.
When under lockdown, people cannot leave the confines of their property for any reason – not even to exercise in their immediate neighborhood. The only reason they can leave their property is if there is an emergency, or they are working in an occupation exempt from the lockdown order.
For COVID-19 emergency health and health-related questions, the public can call 511. For general information about COVID-19, not connected to an emergency or immediate health-related matter, the public can call 411. For all health emergencies and life-threatening conditions, the public can call 911.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) has set up a COVID-19 command center that can be called at 311 for shutdown and curfew-related inquiries.
The prime minister said the tough decisions had to be made because some people were not listening and were not taking the deadly virus seriously.
“We, therefore, had to strengthen the measures because we are in a surge and there is community spread. The total lockdown we just experienced was done on the advice of public health officials in order to prevent and to slow the spread of the virus during the surge we are in.”
He informed the House of Assembly that Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, co-ordinator of the COVID-19 response and a special adviser to the prime minister, warned from March 26, that The Bahamas was in the surge.
“We have watched on the news the consequences around the world of waiting too long to act aggressively. Some countries and jurisdictions that did not act fast enough are experiencing hundreds of deaths per day. We are learning from what happened in those places and applying the lessons to The Bahamas,” said Minnis.
The prime minister noted that The Bahamas does not have the resources of larger countries, or their production capacity to create drugs and equipment to fight the virus. He said The Bahamas must put its focus and efforts on prevention. The institution of curfews, shutdowns and lockdowns was the result.
“For this to work, all of us must do our part. We need our citizens and residents and visitors to comply and to follow the rules. Compliance will help to determine how many deaths there are. We all have it in our hands to save lives. If we follow the rules and listen, if we stay at home, fewer people will die and will get sick. If we are slack, if we do not listen, if some sneak out and break the rules, more people may die,” he said.
The prime minister said the deadly outbreak is not just happening on TV and around the world, but is spreading in The Bahamas.
“Not everyone who has it looks or acts sick. There are infected people who have no symptoms.”
He said people should remember that while someone is next to them not following the rules and having fun, he or she could give it to them and they, in turn, could take it home and spread it to the people they love.