Editorials

Think about those with COVID-19

Individuals living with COVID-19 in The Bahamas are people and not merely a statistic.

As of yesterday, there were 1,372 people confirmed by the Ministry of Health as being actively infected with COVID-19, but we know nothing about most of the individuals represented by this figure.

We do not know their ages or their sex; whether they are Bahamian, resident or a guest; the breakdown of those in self-isolation versus those in government facilities, or the daily provisions established for those in government facilities.

We do not know the conditions of those who are hospitalized, the kinds of symptoms they first presented with at medical facilities or what arrangements exist in-hospital for assisted virtual communication with family members who are restricted from visiting their isolated loved ones.

And if COVID-19 claims the life of someone infected, we rarely speak their names.

When COVID-19 statistics are released without details such as these, society can unwittingly begin to regard those living with the disease as out-of-sight, out-of-mind impediments to normalcy, reducing them to statistical roadblocks that Bahamians grow tired of hearing reported about each day.

Since active case indicators such as age are no longer reported to the public, we do not know how many of the cases in this second wave are children, how severe their symptoms were, if any, and what the same means epidemiologically for The Bahamas and how its approach to in-person schooling could be tailored.

Due to backlogs in testing, individuals have had a protracted wait for their results, an undoubtedly stressful experience for them and their families.

With health officials pointing to the challenge of re-testing large numbers of positive cases to determine recovery, any delays in clearance for those who would have recovered from the virus, would invariably result in delays in individuals being able to return to their families, jobs and their own personal sense of normalcy.

Two weeks of isolation from one’s children, relatives and friends is a lonely ordeal that creates varying levels of hardship for those who are directed to quarantine, and their ability to weather the same can be impacted, in part, by how society regards those with the disease.

Sentiments that divide those infected into categories of disobedient disease spreaders and irresponsible disease catchers, have the potential to cause pain for COVID-19-positive individuals and their loved ones that the public needs to be better sensitized about, particularly since we are told the disease will always be with us.

Officials report that some who are ordered into self-quarantine have broken quarantine and left their homes.

As unacceptable as this action is, what has not been discussed is the extent to which individuals in self-quarantine might feel forced to attend to urgent needs outside the home, that cannot be attended to by others due to inadequate social support.

Now into the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, concerns persist about evacuation and shelter provisions in the context of containing the spread of COVID-19.

Though officials indicated ahead of Hurricane Isaias that efforts would be made to isolate evacuees who seek shelter and who are also under quarantine orders, the logistics of this assurance were never outlined.

Given the stigma some have attached to COVID-19 and the fear associated with the virus, one can imagine the hesitation an individual under quarantine might have in deciding whether to seek shelter from a storm threat, while not knowing what facilities might await him or her at a shelter, and what kind of treatment might be encountered once one’s COVID-19 status is known or suspected.

COVID-19 has so negatively altered everyday life, that developing disdain for it and anything connected is symptomatic of those wearied and beset by its impact.

But we must not allow our upset about the virus’ fallout to detract from caring about and protecting those who become infected.

Individuals living with COVID-19 in The Bahamas are people and not merely a statistic.

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