‘Race against time’

International travel and relaxed adherence causing COVID surge

New COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas are being driven by international travel and relaxed adherence to the health guidelines, according to Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, special health advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister.

She said The Bahamas must return to heightened surveillance and contact tracing “if we are going to win this race in the shortest period of time”. 

“To help control the surge in new cases, we must test, isolate, trace, treat and vaccinate,” Dahl-Regis said during a National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee press conference yesterday.

“Contact tracing is being stepped up on New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. All cases and contacts of cases must be identified to bring the spread of COVID-19 under control.

“As part of the contact tracing process, private lab reporting requirements are also being enforced to ensure that information reaches health officials in a complete, accurate, timely manner.”

According to the COVID-19 dashboards, 336 cases were reported in January and 335 cases were reported in February.

Data from the Ministry of Health indicated that COVID cases nearly doubled in March with 613 cases reported.

Six hundred and twenty-nine cases were reported between April 1 and April 19.

The data shows that 1,913 new COVID-19 cases were reported so far in 2021.

Dahl-Regis said that nine new cases were reported for Monday – eight in New Providence, one in Bimini.

She said one of the cases was imported from travel.

Forty-six people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday – 37 in New Providence, nine on Grand Bahama.

The total number of cases now stands at 9,800.

Dahl-Regis said the Ministry of Health is moving to accelerate its vaccination program throughout The Bahamas.

She noted that vaccination is “a critical element” in controlling the spread of COVID-19.

However, according to Dahl-Regis, “At this time vaccinations alone will not get us out of this pandemic. We must simultaneously address the increase in cases, the identification of resistant strains and adherence to the public health measures if we are to win this race and return to a sense of normalcy.

“As we seek to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine and the number of vaccinations administered, we have also been observing an increase in case numbers on a daily basis, over the last two weeks.”

She said The Bahamas is “in a race against time”.

“The pandemic is not over,” Dahl-Regis said.

“COVID-19 is continuously presenting new challenges.”

She said the COVID-19 vaccine will provide an opportunity to develop an immune response to combat infection.

“Your immune response will neutralize the severity of the COVID-19 virus,” she said. 

“There may be side effects from the vaccine but these side effects have not shown to be life-threatening.”

Dahl-Regis said The Bahamas is making progress.

However, she noted that its work is “far from over”.

“This is no time to relax,” Dahl-Regis said.

“We must continue to practice the public health measures. Avoid large gatherings. Abide by the emergency orders.”

She added, “The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can fully open our economy. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to work.

“The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can get back to enjoying the activities we love, like Junkanoo. I say to you, each one help and together we will get through this pandemic.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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