Wells: Some positive cases fell through the cracks

After it was revealed that nearly 90 COVID-19 cases went unreported for months, Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday that the cases fell through the cracks, but admitted that it never should have happened.

“We are looking at all of that,” he said.

“You know in the fog of a war, sometimes some things fall through the cracks. And the things that fall through the cracks can cause problems. We’re not making excuses in the ministry. Those things should have been reported, but back in September and October during the height of the second wave, lots of cases were taking place.”

Of the 115 COVID cases reported by the Ministry of Health on Saturday, 29 were newly confirmed cases and 86 were listed as cases not previously reported.

The Ministry of Health said that due to continuous data cleansing of the COVID-19 database and collaborations with reporting laboratories, 86 additional cases were revealed – 32 on New Providence and 54 on Grand Bahama.

It was noted that the New Providence cases were originally tested between January 2021 and mid-April 2021, and the Grand Bahama were originally tested between September 2020 and December, 2020.

Wells said the situation showed that the Ministry of Health needs to upgrade its systems.

“COVID exposed a lot of our defects and defaults, not just in the Ministry of Health but in the entire Bahamian society,” he said.

“It showed how far out of step we were.

“We are just deploying digital platforms. During the second wave, there was no way for all of the labs to be able to put in data electronically to the Ministry of Health. It couldn’t happen.

“So, we had to create a platform … where everyone was supposed to feed the data in. And so, if the data is not fed in, there was the tendency for some things to fall through the cracks.

“And while we were deploying that IT system, obviously we had some challenges. We do have [it] in place and now we are moving to an even better platform to where when someone goes to a lab, they get a barcode. If you test positive or negative, that data is sent instantaneously electronically to our surveillance unit that will be able to know positive or negative for rapid antigen test, for PCR.”

The Bahamas is in a third wave COVID-19 infections, officials said. Over 10,000 cases have been recorded since March 2020. 

The government has also moved quickly to roll out its vaccination campaign. At last report, over 25,000 people in The Bahamas got their first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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