In a stinging rebuttal of accusations that the Davis administration has mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic on the Family Islands, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville fired back that former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis should “hang his head in shame” over his administration’s management of the crisis on the Family Islands.
During debate on a resolution thanking the governor general for reading the Speech from the Throne, Minnis, leader of the opposition, accused the government of failing Family Islanders.
“From how this government failed the Family Islands in its first test, we on this side have no confidence in their ability to execute a strategy to protect Bahamians,” Minnis said.
He said since the Davis administration assumed office in September, some restrictions imposed under his administration were “loosened”.
“In recent weeks, there have been outbreaks in several Family Islands,” he said.
“Residents have gotten seriously ill and some have died.
“What is most shocking about these outbreaks is news of them often broke on social media.
“Journalists or people from the areas told of the deteriorating situations.
“So, I ask, where is the plan for the Family Islands?”
But Darville said that when he assumed office, he met the Family Islands in a state of neglect.
“He mentioned the Family Islands and this administration’s plan to address the Family Islands,” Darville said on a point of clarification.
“I would like to let the member for Killarney (Minnis) know and the general population knows that on coming to office, this administration met one of the worst situations as it relates to clinics throughout our archipelago.
“Nothing was done in five years. Absolutely nothing. The member of Killarney should hold his head down in shame as the former prime minister and as a medical doctor.
“You should hold your head in shame as you go through the Family Islands and you should be careful how you twist your mouth to talk about the people of the Family Islands.
“When we came in, we met a situation burning as a direct result of neglect from the former administration. There was a cluster that was untaken care of and as minister, I was catapulted to be able to address the situation. People died as a result of neglect from the former administration’s inability to put the right protocols in place and to repair our Family Island clinics to deal with what they were dealing with.
“Immediately on coming to office, we had to use the resources of the [Royal] Bahamas Defence Force to begin to move essential materials, essential products, into the Family Islands to address the clusters.”
In October, it was reported that several Family Islands were dealing with an increase in COVID-19 cases.
There were increased cases on Eleuthera, Long Island, Exuma, Crooked Island, Inagua, Cat Island, Andros, and the Berry Islands.
Darville noted that clusters were identified on several islands.
He said yesterday that following free COVID testing on Eleuthera, Inagua, and the Berry Islands, “the COVID-19 clusters were contained and there was no obvious community spread”.
Darville said, “I did not leave these things behind.
“I met them in place and the Bahamian people can [be] assured that this administration is already making steps to correct the derelict and defects that were left behind by the former administration. I’d also like to say, on coming to office in the middle of the pre-election campaign, we met clusters of infections. These infections were not dealt with appropriately and as a result, these clusters began to grow.
“This same minister and this same administration moved very swiftly to ensure the integrity of the clusters were maintained and begin to stop the potential community spread.
“So, as I stand to my feet today, I would like to clarify to the member of Killarney and to the Bahamian people that what he is speaking is pure rhetoric.
“It does not reflect a former government that had the ability to do the right things in our Family Islands but refused to do it. You did nothing in the Family Islands and as a matter of fact, you should hold your head down in shame.”
In August, when asked why he decided to call the election in the middle of the worst surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, Minnis said, “I think as we progress, you would see.”
Daily reported cases averaged in the triple digits at the time and hospitalizations climbed as high as 190.
In the lead up to the September 16 election, the Free National Movement (FNM) held drive-up rallies on several islands. On many occasions, moderators asked attendees to stay near their cars and not crowd together. The FNM lost the election, only winning seven of the 39 seats.
Reported COVID cases and hospitalizations have since trended downward.
As of Saturday, 1,209 cases were confirmed for October. With one day still left to account for, it is likely that October will record fewer than half of the cases that were recorded in September, when 2,738 cases were recorded.
At last report, 22,407 cases of COVID were reported since March 2020. Fifty-eight people were in hospital and there have been 643 reported deaths from the virus, according to the Ministry of Health.