There are 69 active COVID-19 cases in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), according to RBDF Medical Officer Lieutenant Commander Dr. Derwin Johnson, who added that the force is experiencing a decline in cases.
“We have reached the point where we start to see a decline and now somewhat of a flattening of the curve within the ranks of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,” Johnson told The Nassau Guardian.
“That is because we were able to start our own swabbing, in terms of our medical team. So, we’re testing a lot more and we’re able to get results in a more timely fashion as [the Ministry of] Health would’ve increased their capacity testing based on the machine they would’ve obtained from PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and I think another machine they would’ve acquired from another location as well.”
He said 520 tests were conducted within the defense force so far, adding that testing is ongoing.
Johnson said the samples are sent to the Ministry of Health and Princess Margaret Hospital for processing “depending on which one has the availability to receive the samples from us”.
“The government has increased their capacity,” he said.
“Before, it was only the National Reference Lab for everybody in the entire Bahamas, so that had our results backed up.”
Johnson said results were sometimes backed up for three weeks, which caused delays with some marines returning to duty.
One hundred and nineteen COVID-19 cases were reported in the force since March, according to Johnson.
He said all but one case was reported during the second wave, which started in July.
“We’re down to about 69 that are active,” he said.
“We would’ve submitted a release a few weeks ago regarding our recruits who would’ve tested positive. A majority of those (cases) would actually be in that grouping or population of persons.”
He said more than 60 percent of recruits have recovered.
So far, the defense force reported one COVID-19 death.
There have been three hospitalizations, including the man who died, Johnson said.
“One has been released already,” he said.
“The other is making strides toward recovery.”
Johnson said 151 defense force officers and marines are currently quarantined.
He said most are quarantined “out of an abundance of caution”.
He said the force has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of its officers and marines during the pandemic.
“We have reduced our staff complement on base and any other base we have around the country,” Johnson said.
“We would’ve also sent all of our high-risk persons — those who have hypertension, diabetes, cancer — to work from home from March and that’s including our pre and post-natal marines as well.” He said the RBDF has kept its personal protective equipment stocked and available for officers to use.