bahamasministerofhealth

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

bahamasministerofhealth

Wells Assures Safe Roll-Out of COVID-19 Vaccine

In his first national press conference for 2021, Minister of Health Renward Wells announced the procurement of vaccines aimed at curbing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the country.

The latest COVID-19 statistics revealed there were 7,969 cases throughout The Bahamas, as was disclosed during the press conference held Friday, January 8, 2021.  Total COVID-19 hospitalizations continued on a downtrend and stood at 11, from 15 on January 1.

Wells said, “Now that  COVID-19  vaccines have been produced, the Government of The Bahamas is working on all fronts to secure the vaccines.   Currently, there are three authorized COVID-19 vaccines on the world market — Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca,” Minister Wells announced.

“Through the COVAX Facility and with the assistance of the World Health and Pan American Health Organizations, The Bahamas has presumptively secured enough doses to vaccinate 20% of our population once available,” Minister Wells, said.

Adding that, “the Government of The Bahamas assures its citizens and residents that the vaccines chosen for use will be safe and appropriate for distribution throughout our islands.”

And, to facilitate this distribution of a National COVID-19 Vaccine, Minister Wells also announced that a Strategic Plan has already been approved by Cabinet.

“A COVID-19 Vaccine National Consultative Committee has been established, by the Prime Minister, to safely introduce the COVID-19 vaccine in The Bahamas,” he said.

This committee will give advice to the Ministry of Health’s National Immunization Coordinating Committee (NICC) and the National Immunization Technical   Working Group  (NITWG).  “Be assured, Government’s objective remains the same — to continually provide free vaccines, to all who wish to benefit from the protection that vaccination offers.

“Again, let me state the policy of the Government of the Bahamas: The COVID-19 Vaccine will be given without charge to the Bahamian people, and uptake of this vaccine, by the Bahamian people, will be completely voluntary,” Minister Wells said.

According to the minister, when a safe and effective vaccine is available in the country, the public will be informed and invited to receive the vaccine in specific groups, at no cost.

He also assured that the Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Team continues to monitor in-country virus trends, in anticipation of a possible third wave and maybe with a new variant in the mix.

The Minister thanked the public for adapting to the new ways of interacting.

“As the world continues to fight COVID-19, the methods may differ, but the commonality remains the same – the application of the preventative measures.   Your continued adherence to these measures now can and will determine our national circumstances later,” he said.

By Lindsay Thompson/ BIS

 

New Providence and Abaco are Looking COVID-19 Good

Health officials have seen major improvements in New Providence and Abaco as COVID-19 cases decrease since the last four weeks of weekend lockdowns and daily curfews.

There is a 50% decrease in new cases between October 10th and November 5th. And, in the last 7 days, statistics show an 8 percent decrease.

The big picture

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis implemented restricted measures for New Providence and Abaco in early October, including a 24-hour weekend lockdown and a return of curfews, emphasizing that coronavirus cases were deteriorating and the healthcare system was near collapse.

Worthnoting

  • 34 new cases were confirmed on Thursday. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas to 6,916.
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have significantly reduced and currently stand at 59, which is down from the high of 122 on 22nd October.
  • At the Princess Margaret Hospital, there are 27 COVID-19 patients who are moderately ill. There are no patients in ICU at PMH presently.
  • 97 persons recovered from COVID-19 yesterday. This brings the total number of recoveries to 4,876. The recovery rate is now at 70.5%.
  • In New Providence, there are 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Doctor’s Hospital. 10 are moderately ill and 3 are in ICU.
  • There are 5 moderately ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized at the South Beach Acute Care and Referral Centre.

A Case for the Flu Vaccine: Wells Convinces

Health Minister Renward Wells announced that October begins influenza or ‘flu’ season, which lasts until March.

He said last year the healthcare system treated thousands of people in the Bahamas affected by the flu or complications from the flu.

The reasons Wells presented for a flu vaccination

  • Unlike COVID-19, there is a vaccine available to protect people from influenza. It is important that we all get the flu vaccine, especially during this time of COVID-19.
  • The flu vaccine is safe and effective and this is supported by years of research.
  • It is recommended that all persons older than 6 months should get the annual vaccine to prevent getting the flu unless specifically instructed not to by a doctor.
  • The flu similar to COVID-19 is characterized by symptoms such as fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, and runny nose, and a general unwell feeling. Illness can be mild or severe.
  • This year greater significance must be placed on availing oneself of the available flu vaccine. There is currently no vaccine for COVID19, however, the flu vaccine can provide protection from the current circulating strains.

How do influenza and COVID-19 differ?

Health officials say the illnesses differ by severity, death rate, and contagiousness.

COVID-19 causes severe illness, against which humans have no immunity. By contrast, with influenza, many people have some degree of immunity against it, to prevent hospitalization and complications in most instances.

Officials believe COVID-19 is deadlier than influenza, as the death rate of influenza is roughly 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is estimated to be about 1.4-4.5 percent, with the risk of death being significantly higher for older persons than for younger individuals.

Another difference is COVID-19 appears to be more contagious than seasonal influenza. A person infected with influenza spreads the disease to another 1.3 individuals. For COVID-19, an infected person spreads illness to another 2 to 2.5 persons.

Featured Photo: BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs

Wells to Family Members of PMH Boarders: Please, Please, Help Us

The long standing problem of boarders at the Princess Margaret Hospital is impeding the health facility’s capacity to house individuals infected with the deadly virus.

Speaking on the issue at the Ministry of Health’s COVID Update, Minister of Health Renward Wells said the issue of boarders is affecting the health system and its handling of COVID-19.

“It cannot be right for all ill patients to lose their lives because they cannot access proper facilities at the hospital,” he said

“Our health professionals are hard pressed to find places to care for very ill people. We need those beds,” Wells continued.

He determined that there are 33 boarders at the Princess Margaret Hospital, some, he says, have been discharged for many years, but family members have not taken them home.

In recent days, health officials decried the lack of beds at the facility as the COVID-19 numbers continually climb. Officials say improving health infrastructure to accommodate the cases and ensuring the most efficient use of beds are most critical.

He then made an impassioned plea to family members of the boarders, “Please, please, help us to help you.”

Wells added that to prevent the collapse of the healthcare system, government has instituted lockdowns to establish social distancing protocols to delay the spread, to reduce the number of people getting sick at the same time and allow for more time to improve the capacity to fight the virus.

COVID-19 cases have climbed to 830, with 69 new cases. 719 COVID-19 cases are active cases and 30 are hospitalized.

Wells warned that the country should brace for more COVID-19 deaths.

Former Minister of Health Duane Sands addressed the issue of boarders before his resignation during the pandemic.

At the time, Sands said his ministry was looking into using nursing homes to accomodate the boarders at PMH, as the situation burdened public finances, exacerbating bed shortage at the facility.

He said it costs several million dollars to care for 31 boarders, at the time.

 

Health Officials Skirting Claim: 50 PMH Patients Were Exposed to COVID-19

Health officials would not confirm or deny that it closed three wards at the Princess Margaret Hospital due to 50 persons being exposed to COVID-19. Neither did they respond to concerns that a patient on the maternity ward tested positive for the virus.

When pressed by reporters at the COVID-19 update conference, PMH Chief Hospital Administrator Mary Walker said the facility has conducted “an aggressive reconfiguration of wards across its three institutions,” namely the Princess Margaret Hospital, the Rand Memorial Hospital, and the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

Walker said the reconfiguration occurred because of an increase in the number of staff and persons coming to the hospital testing positive for COVID-19, which she said placed a strain on the bed capacity at the facility.

Walker added that “every effort is being made to ensure that no COVID-19 positive patients are housed or treated at the main campuses of our hospitals.

On Wednesday, the Nassau Guardian reported that three wards including Male Surgial Ward and the Female Medical Ward were not admitting new patients, as nearly 50 patients were exposed to the virus.

It further claimed that an elderly woman in the Female Medical Ward tested positive for the virus over the weekend, as a patient in another ward was exposed to the virus by a healthcare worker.

Minister of Health Renward Wells vaguely addressed the reconfiguration of wards stating only that it “is geared toward better managing patient admissions subject to their medical needs and gender.”

Wells noted that the current exposure of employees and patients across the nation’s hospitals is being managed, subject to international Infection Prevention Control guidelines for infectious outbreaks of this kind and the policies of PHA. He said every effort is being made to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the institutions.

Wells said that the Pubic Hospital Authority has increased the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff working across hospitals to ensure the safety and protection of valued employees.

Members of the public were asked to contact their personal physicians or local community clinics during the day for non-emergencies, and only access the Accident & Emergency Department in the event of an actual emergency or after-hour services.

Ambulance Services are limited to emergencies only.

It is not known how many health care workers are currently affected with the virus, but in April, nearly 200 workers were quarantined for exposure to COVID-19.