Editorials

What a difference a week makes

One week ago, we were told the sky was falling.

Now, we are being made to understand that it actually is not.

Last Monday, we were told by the prime minister, as the competent authority, during the state of emergency, that an immediate lockdown of New Providence, including the closure of the means through which most people obtain food, water and medicine, was absolutely necessary given the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The prime minister reversed that foolish decision the next day.

And yesterday, he told us that an analysis of the latest data by the Ministry of Health, assisted by the University of The Bahamas, shows “positive trends” developing regarding the situation on New Providence and that no lockdown is necessary.

We note that no data presented at yesterday’s press conference that we were presented with indicates a positive trend on New Providence.

Two days of positive data does not negate two weeks of unprecedented spread and deaths.

In the eight-day period leading up to last Monday’s announcement, New Providence saw 296 positive COVID-19 cases.

In the eight days leading up to yesterday’s announcement, New Providence saw 382 positive cases.

Clearly, political and economic pressure are informing this latest decision.

That the prime minister would take such draconian measures last week without a full analysis of the data speaks to the duty of care with which he treats the Bahamian people.

That he would try to pass off such flimsy evidence as an excuse for reopening so rapidly, speaks to how little he must value the intelligence of the Bahamian people.

We are surely now the laughing stock of the region, if not the world.

Nevertheless, with the backlog cleared, as explained by Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, we do not see the need for further lockdown or the current business closures.

We cannot overstate how pleased we are that Dahl-Regis returned, however briefly, to rescue us from the gross incompetence, mismanagement and negligence that has taken place in government during this second wave.

We congratulate her for organizing the clearing of the backlog; and for the clearest explanation of what has contributed to the rapid spread of late and the confusion with the rising numbers.

However, we do want a clearer explanation of the deaths on the dashboard and why cases still under investigation are included as definitive COVID-19 deaths.

It is now clear that there was no management plan in Dr. Dahl-Regis’ absence.

But we did not emerge from yesterday’s briefing with any surety one exists for the way forward.

What we do understand is that the health system is still overwhelmed.

We understand that more expansive and timely testing is still an issue.

We do not understand what is the status of application to be included in the Remdesivir study or our current supply of the drug on the island.

We do not understand why there is still a need for a curfew.

From a leadership standpoint, it appears the many failures of the prime minister during this pandemic has forced him to finally involve his Cabinet colleagues.

That they will now be briefing the nation with plans for the way forward will hopefully uncloud the ambiguity that surrounds plans to move us into whatever the new normal may be.

We pray that we move more deliberately this time to support measures to begin the internal opening of economy.

We would also like to see the removal of all inconsistency in arbitrary distinctions regarding Family Islands and even their settlements.

We are still unclear on what the distinction is between Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, for instance.

And, from a national standpoint, we encourage the Bahamian people to take personal responsibility in mitigating the spread of this disease.

The government can only do so much.

With continued rise in the spread of the disease, it would be difficult to argue against restrictions being tightened once again.

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