We join the nation in mourning the passing of five compatriots who succumbed to the wrath of the coronavirus over the past week.
We extend condolences to the families and friends of these souls and we ask that God hold them in the palms of His hands.
Those lost represent a cross section of our community: 57-year-old Bimini restaurateur and sister of Elsworth Johnson, minister of financial services, trade and immigration, Kim Johnson-Rolle; hurricane Dorian transplant to Nassau, 67-year-old retired sister of Rick Lowe of Nassau Motors, Susan Julie Cates; well-known surveyor, engineer and former civil servant, 79-year-old Stafford Coakley; prominent Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama, electrician and former electrical inspector for the Grand Bahama Port Authority, 80-year-old Clarence Bartlett; and 72-year-old Dr. Judson Eneas, preeminent renal specialist, head of the Medical Department at Doctors Hospital and founder of the Gentlemen’s Club in The Bahamas.
The long shadow cast by the coronavirus has been stretching over the world since December 2019.
It reached our shores and is methodically obliterating every myth or hope that we would be spared from this modern-day plague.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in The Bahamas was disclosed on March 15.
The first fatality occurred 15 days later on March 30.
Close to 350 individuals are quarantined: the known contacts of infected individuals, including the asymptomatic. All are reportedly being monitored and tested as appropriate.
The number of deaths, so far, reflects a very high percentage of confirmed cases.
Our inability to conduct widespread testing in the population makes it difficult to develop reliable national statistics on infection, recovery and mortality rates, but it is safe to say that our mortality rate is higher than rates anywhere else internationally, including Spain and Italy.
It is likely that the high incidence of underlying conditions in our population — hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, asthma and cancers – will continue to impact the outcomes of many COVID-19 cases.
In response to the threat of the spread of the novel coronavirus and in an effort to minimize COVID-19 infections and deaths, all schools were closed beginning on March 16 and all school and youth-related scheduled activities were postponed or cancelled.
On March 18, the government enacted Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations under which it put in place an eight-hour overnight curfew. This was soon followed by a 24-hour curfew.
Far too many residents, in defiance of the orders and the advice of the Ministry of Health, failed to adjust their behaviors notwithstanding the looming threat.
After a series of restrictions limiting traffic at public and private air and sea ports of entry around the country, followed by the closure of our borders to international visitors including in-transit passengers, the government closed our borders to returning Bahamian citizens and residents on March 27.
These measures failed to keep many people at home, very particularly on New Providence.
Both local and international experts say that social distancing is the most effective weapon against COVID-19 spread.
COVID-19 thrives on human contact. Social distancing saves lives.
On Friday past, the prime minister ordered the lockdown of The Bahamas for three nights and two days.
We strongly support the lockdown.
Should it be determined that further lockdowns are required to secure public health, we encourage the public to comply.
Now is the time for mindful, deliberate and disciplined support of measures put in place to safeguard our health and that of the nation.
Now, more than ever, is the time to demonstrate our fullest support for our medical and healthcare community.
They are on the front line of this battle.
Already, the health of several is threatened from exposure.
One, Dr. Judson Eneas, has paid the ultimate price.
The medical community asks that we stay at home. The least that we can do is to heed their advice.
Stay at home and save a life.