‘Things could get worse before they get better’

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that the high rate of noncommunicable diseases (NCD) in The Bahamas could result in worse COVID-19 outcomes, compared to other countries.

So far, there were 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, with six deaths.

“We have already had [six] deaths in this little country,” Sands said.

“That is not a good record, and we are still in the surge. We haven’t peaked yet. So things could get worse before they get better.”

He added, “If you look at what we believed we know about COVID-19, the people who do worse are people with comorbidities and noncommunicable diseases.

“The Bahamas is the poster child for noncommunicable diseases. We have a disproportionately high rate of morbid obesity, hypertension and diabetes. You put that together with questionable discipline as it relates to social distancing, and you have the recipe for a perfect storm. And so, we need to understand that we are vulnerable to this virus because of our comorbidities. And that ought to mean that we should be even more disciplined in our social distancing strategies, not less.”

Sands said it’s because of those particular vulnerabilities that the government has to take extreme steps to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“The decisions that are being made are being made because of the peculiar reality of The Bahamas and Bahamians,” he said.

“And so, we have to exaggerate the public health measures if we want fewer people to die or fewer people to suffer.”

He added, “We didn’t get here overnight. The evolution of NCDs in The Bahamas has been progressive. It has been intractable. And now with this virus, it brings all of these things home.

“So, I think we can dispel with the myth that black people don’t get COVID. I think we can get rid of that story that COVID doesn’t impact warm climates.”

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