Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said the already-existing healthcare model used to provide medical attention to Family Islanders will be unchanged for the management of a potential COVID-19 outbreak in The Bahamas.
“We have a very well-developed public health system with the ability to move seriously ill patients to the capital or to the medical centers,” he said.
“It hasn’t failed us yet. I don’t believe that it’s going to fail us.
“…The prime minister and a number of Cabinet ministers were at the air ambulance yesterday. They verified their ability and willingness to retrieve patients identified as ill and we are going to rely on that model.”
There are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.
The country’s first patient was identified as a 61-year-old woman who had no recent travel history.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath and, in severe cases, pneumonia and even sepsis.
As of yesterday, there were nearly 245,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in at least 160 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
At least 10,000 people have died from the disease.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last week. Shortly after, it announced that the epicenter of the pandemic is now Europe.
Minnis announced earlier this week that foreigners who have been in the UK or Europe in the past 20 days will not be allowed entry into The Bahamas. Bahamians who have recently visited the region will face quarantine upon entering The Bahamas.
At the last report, there were over 10,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 149 deaths.
Sands said there is little that can be done about the lack of facilities and trained personnel to handle respiratory failure on the Family Islands.
“The skills to take care of a patient with respiratory failure are unique skills,” he said.
“You can’t train somebody in two days or three days or a week or a month. And so, we don’t see this as a time to create mischief for the uninitiated or the untrained, but we are going to rely on the model that has served us well for years.”
He added, “A ventilator is no use to anybody if there are not the appropriately skilled professionals to put somebody on a ventilator, to intubate them and to manage that ventilator. A ventilator can be a deadly tool in the wrong hands.
“The only skilled practitioners – respiratory therapists, nurses with critical care training – exist in the major communities of Grand Bahama and New Providence.”
Sands added, “So, it’s very important that the strategy be a reasonable strategy and one that doesn’t put additional persons at risk.”