bahamasministryofhealth

Monday, April 12, 2021

bahamasministryofhealth

Govt’ to Secure More Vaccines in the Fight Against COVID-19

Minister of Health Renward Wells assured that the government is working to secure additional vaccines from approved providers, in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He made the statement on Wednesday, during the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Update Press Conference.

Wells noted that through PAHO, the Bahamas scheduled to receive an additional 67,200 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.

Why it matters

The Bahamas has received a total of 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Out of that, 20,000 doses were received as a gift from the Government of India and 33,600 doses were received through the COVAX Facility with the assistance of the PAHO.

“The government continues to work on all fronts to secure additional vaccines from approved providers,” Minister Wells said.

Driving the news

To date, more than 10,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Bahamians and residents. Over 1,000 individuals are being vaccinated per day and health care workers are actively working to increase this number, he added.

Vaccines have been administered at centres in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera. Additional centres have opened to include a wider range of individuals namely teachers and staff of schools, the physically disabled, those in the hospitality industry and students and athletes studying abroad.

As of Tuesday, there were 26 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the Bahamas to 9,296. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths now stands at 189.

(BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Health Officials Give Good Assurance in AstraZeneca

Health officials are putting fears to rest after international reports circulated that some European countries were temporarily suspending the Astra Zeneca vaccine due to blood clot concerns.

Ministry of Health was quick to address the national concerns that arose after more than 20,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the country.

The big picture

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organisation. But in recent days, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Austria have temporarily suspended its use because one woman is reported to have died as a result of blood clots sustained purportedly after being inoculated with the vaccine, along with a small group of people developing clots after receiving the vaccine.

What the Ministry of Health says

  • The vaccines received by the Bahamas on Wednesday, 10th March, are different from the batch reportedly used in the affected countries.
  • The AstraZeneca vaccine received by The Bahamas has met all of the requirements and standards as outlined in the World Health Organization’s pre-qualification system, which has provided Emergency Use Listing.
  • The vaccine has also received Caribbean Regulatory System certification.
  • The Ministry of Health assures the public that COVID-19 vaccines received by The Bahamas will continue to meet the stringent regulatory approval standards stated above.

European Medicines Agency (EMA)

The EMA said blood clots can occur naturally, adding that there had been 30 cases of “thromboembolic events” among the five million Europeans who have received the vaccine.

“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions, which are not listed as side effects with this vaccine,” the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Thursday.

“The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while the investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing.”

Wells on Nurses Overtime Pay Debacle. What happened and why?

Minister of Health Renward Wells defended the government’s position on overtime pay for nurses for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells said the government paid out some $162,000 to nurses from the Department of Public Health for working overtime. But it was later discovered that some nurses may not have been paid the overtime money due to time logged in manually but was not digitally recorded.

Why it matters

Some members of the Bahamas Nurses Union led by its president, Amancha Williams protested in Rawson Square on Wednesday morning demanding the overtime money promised to them by the government.

Pineridge Member of Parliament Frederick McAlpine in the House of Assembly on Wednesday suggested that Wells was deceptive for saying nurses were paid.

Nurses protested on Wednesday during the session of Parliament.

The big picture

When Duane Sands served as Minister of Health, healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic were guaranteed a $5,000 honorarium for March, April and May.

This was when the Ministry of Health was having a hard time finding health officials willing to handle COVID patients in the healthcare system.

What Wells says

Wells said when he became the Minister of Health in July, he was informed that nurses in the Department of Public health were not paid during Hurricane Dorian and some nurses were not paid for overtime during the pandemic.

“As minister, I asked the Ministry of Health for all documents that should have been logged—the quantum, the cost was given to this minister to go to the cabinet for the cabinet to make a decision to pay. The cabinet paper was written. I was told that the $162,000 for the nurses for March to September was all the log for the work. And that was paid,” Wells said.

Wells said he was surprised when the new year rolled in, and he heard that some nurses who worked overtime were not paid.

He vowed that the situation will be cleared up once the claims being made, are verified.

According to Wells, nurses are the only frontline workers who have already received the overtime pay, while doctors and support staff await the payment.

COVID-19 is Hitting the Islands Hard

The islands of the Bahamas are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases as the country battles the second wave of the infectious disease.

On Thursday 12th, there were 39 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 7,163. Total COVID-19 hospitalizations are currently on a downward trend and now at 23.

Cases and hospitalization have lessened in New Providence, but they are rising in GrandBahama, Bimini, Eleuthera, Abaco, Exuma, and Andros.

Grand Bahama

  • Grand Bahama recorded 38 new confirmed cases in one day.
  • It was noted that 26 of these cases originated from employee interactions in the workplace. These employees work in the industrial sector as an electrical team.
  • 12 contracted the virus at a gaming house.
  • The island has 874 total cases.

Bimini

  • A large church convention is the cause of 15 new cases on that island.
  • One individual had severe symptoms and was airlifted to New Providence.
  • Other individuals are awaiting the results from the swab test.
  • Bimini and Cat cay have a total of 63 cases.

Eleuthera

  • There is one new death on the island. Total death for Eleuthera is now 4.
  • The COVID-19 affected population of Eleuthera is relatively young. 23% of those infected with COVID-19 cases were between
    the ages of 30 and 39.
  • Most COVID-19 cases are occurring in the Central and South areas of the island.
  • A total of 130 cases are on Eleuthera.
  • Cases are connected to socialization at bars, beaches, church, and attendance at funerals.
  • The island is under a 24-hour weekend curfew, a weekday curfew from 6 pm to 5 am, and other restrictive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on mainland Eleuthera.

Abaco

  • There are 180 cases on the island; one percent of the population has contracted the virus.
  • There are reports of 1 case per day for the last 30 days.

Exuma

  • On the 9th of November, the cases in Exuma increased by 12 in one day.
  • In less than one week, cases climbed from 43 to 80 cases.
  • The island is under a 24-hour weekend curfew, a weekday curfew from 6 pm to 5 am, and other restrictive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 on mainland Exuma.
  • As of the 12th November, the total number of confirmed cases on the island of Exuma is 80.

Andros

  • Cases are in the areas of Nicholls Town to Kemp’s Bay.
  • A total of 18 cases are on the island.

In all, there are 1,666 active cases, and 90 persons have been recently classified as recovered from COVID-19. This brings the total number of recoveries to 5,282, for a recovery rate of 73.7%.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths now stands at 155. NonCOVID related deaths are at 30. Thirty deaths remain under investigation.

A total of 39,379 tests have been carried out for COVID-19. 342 tests were performed yesterday, with 39 positives and 285 negatives. 18 tests were repeated to determine recoveries.

Why COVID-19 Is Still Rising in New Providence

Health Minister Renward Wells said COVID-19 in New Providence continues to escalate.

Over the last four days–September 28th to October 1st, health officials have seen a surge in the capital.

Stats provided by MOH  Photo: CSJ Report

Why does it matter?

This escalation in numbers comes at a time when:

  • the country is reopening its fragile economy
  • several schools are opening with face to face learning.

What’s happening?

  • The relaxation of restrictions, some people have decided to go back to business as usual, including their social lives.
  • Some people attend planned social events like showers, dinner, and birthday parties where they can contract or spread COVID-19.
  • People go home to their families where the virus is spread. These individuals also spread COVID-19 to their co-workers.
  • A consistent trend of workplace exposures.

Minister Wells stressed that the workplace is now a ‘hot spot’.

How do we curb the increase in New Providence?

  • Avoid going out of our homes for non-essential reasons. Avoid social gatherings and practice preventative measures at home, church, work, and everywhere else you go!
  • Employers must ensure that health and safety measures are in place at the workplace and that staff is trained to execute COVID-19 preventive protocols.
  • Employers must implement effective social distancing and work-from-home policies.
  • Conduct yourselves as though everywhere is a ‘hot spot.’

Featured image: peterloud.co.uk

An Overwhelmed Morgue. A Look at Why Bodies Are Piling Up

Along with a high COVID-19 toll number, health officials are also dealing with an overwhelming number of bodies in the morgue at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The bodies are crowding the mortuary, awaiting collection by family members and local morticians, to be buried.

Minister of Health Renward Wells and Managing Director at Princess Margaret Hospital said they need the space.

“Some persons are using the morgue at PMH as a storage facility for their deceased loved ones.

“The morgue at PMH continues to be stretched to capacity as a result of the delayed collection of loved ones who have passed.

“Some members of the public are opting to wait until restrictions are lessened to collect the bodies of loved ones,” Wells said.

He encouraged the public to arrange with mortuary companies to retrieve loved ones and advised the local mortuary companies to collect bodies that families have paid to be transported to funeral homes.

What’s the capacity of the facility?

Public Hospital Authority Managing Director Catherine Weech said the facility in New Providence has a capacity for 55 bodies but the facility is presently holding nearly 220 bodies.

In Grand Bahama, she said the storage facility has a capacity of 25, but at times, the facility is holding 50 to 75 bodies.

Weech said the authority has instituted a policy to ensure the COVID-19 deaths are separated from the non-related COVID-19 deaths.

Those bodies are housed in an external cooler at the hospital.

An aged-old problem?

The lack of sufficient space at the mortuary is not a new problem.

Back in 2018, former Minister of Health Duane Sands estimated that the morgue had the capacity for 60 bodies.

He lamented the little space left for the storage of bodies as family members at that time, failed to collect bodies of loved ones.

He told Eyewitness News at the time that Bahamians leave the bodies there because they cannot afford an “elaborate” funeral.

This is not a new problem, but a chronic problem, he admitted. He said the country needs a new morgue.

“The need for a new lab that functions more consistently with the needs and service demands of the country are clear…the viewing facilities are simply antiquated and leave much to be desired.”

Sands also proposed an increase and enforcement of storage fees to encourage undertakers to collect the bodies from the morgue.

“We have not been enforcing storage fees and so it is cheaper for the undertaker to leave the body there until they can bury the person. So they don’t incur the cost of storage,” Sands said.

What you should do?

Wells and Weech are asking families to retrieve the bodies to allow for proper management of bodies that must be housed.

The office is opened weekly and families should contact the Medical Records Department for the release of the bodies from the facility.

Wells said failure by morticians to comply will result in legal storage fees being applied.

 

Featured photo credit: Medical News Today

Our Lives Matter: Group Protests the Deaths of New Mothers and Babies at PMH

Nearly twenty people assembled near the front of the Princess Margaret Hospital demanding better treatment and a new facility for patients.

The group gathered, shouting, “Our Lives Matter” with group leaders Kendle Colebrook and Attorney Maria Daxon. They decried the recent deaths of pregnant mothers and newborn babies.

Wearing t-shirts that read, ‘Enough,’ Colebrooke said, “The babies that died in there are our children. They are us, they are us.”

Daxon said, “We came to support the women who died and lost their babies…How many other women are going to die before you spend the taxpayers’ money on a new hospital.”

One woman said as her niece gives birth in a few weeks, she has warned her not to go to PMH.

“I tell her to go private. They killing people in here. You going in here normal, and when you come out, you coming out as COVID.”

The police called to the scene, stood nearby as the small group voiced their concerns.

The group said they lay the blame at the feet of Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and Health Minister Renward Wells.

This comes after a young mother Kayla Edwards-Dean said she was ignored in the hospital and gave birth to twin boys, later learning that the twins died after delivery.

36-year-old Zennrine Ramdas died of womb infection last week, after giving birth to a baby girl in August.

And 20-year-old Shakinah Dean, a confirmed COVID-19 case, died last month after giving birth to a baby boy. Her mom said she did not receive adequate care and was left unattended.

Addressing media on Tuesday morning outside of Cabinet, Wells said he feels a sense of empathy for the mothers.

“Hearing the kind of things that we are hearing in regards to the loss of life, it doesn’t sit well with them, it certainly doesn’t sit well with me and we’re going to do all we can to continue to preserve the life of the Bahamian people.”

Wells said the Public Hospitals Authority is investigating the matter, although no official complaint has been made.

“We have not received any direct complaints, written complaints but the ministry is looking into it,” he said.

The group promised to assemble again on Wednesday.

Only Two Politicians Had COVID-19 Scare. Here’s Who’s the Latest

It has been said that the virus knows no bounds and respects no person. In the Bahamas, COVID-19 has hit over 900 citizens but has only scare two politicians, the latest parliamentarian revealing that he is in quarantine after testing negative for the virus.

How has the virus affected the Bahamas?

The last COVID-19 dashboard shows that 945 people in the Bahamas were affected with the virus. There are 815 active cases to date and the country has suffered 15 deaths.

Representative of the COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas as of August 10th, 2020. CSJ Report

The second wave is quickly claiming more cases than the first wave and on Sunday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis described it as “grave,” as Grand Bahama, the nation’s second city grapples with the highest COVID cases for the country.

To mitigate chances of a spread in the House of Assembly, the lower chamber which consist of 39 members, was reorganized to permit  parliamentarians to practice social distancing. Some members remained in their seats in the main floor of the house, while others were seated in the gallery. Some members wore masks at every seating.

Who was the first politician to self-isolate?

K. Peter Turnquest – Magnetic Media

The Member of Parliament for Grand Bahama and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest was the first known politician to be exposed to the virus.

In a press release it was revealed that Turnquest received a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result on Friday, July 17. Following the Ministry of Health’s protocols, Minister Turnquest took the test after learning he was exposed to a positive case earlier that day.

Turnquest voluntarily self-quarantined, out of caution.

He performed his functions as Minister of Finance, at home.

Reports surfaced that Turnquest was exposed to the virus from his police aide in Grand Bahama, who tested positive for the virus.

Jeffrey Lloyd is hit with a probable case

Minister of Education and South Beach MP is the second parliamentarian to face quarantine after exposure to the deadly virus.

It was announced that Lloyd received a negative COVID-19 RT00-PCR test result on August 8th.

Minister Lloyd was tested after learning he was exposed to a positive case.

And out of caution Lloyd voluntarily self-quarantined.

He performs his functions as Minister of Education from home.

A press release says,  “All of the necessary COVID-19 exposure procedures with respect to the Ministry of Education headquarters building are being observed.”

Last week, staff members at the Ministry of Education were advised to stay home after a member at the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, which is housed in the same building as only the education ministry, was exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.  It was confirmed by Bahamas Teachers Union President Belinda Wilson.

It was also reported that the MOE’s curriculum section was closed after a staff member too, was exposed to COVID-19 and placed under quarantine.

CSJ Report

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.

 

COVID-19 Cases Rise to Record Numbers: 15 Cases In One Day

This is the highest reported on a given day
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis revealed 15 new coronavirus cases in the country on Sunday, bringing the total to 153.
 
Dr. Minnis blamed these new numbers on the reopening of the country, which opened its borders on July 1st.
 
“Regrettably, the situation here at home has already deteriorated since we began the reopening of our domestic economy.
 
“It has deteriorated at an exponential rate since we reopened our international borders,” he said.
Dr. Minnis said the Ministry of Health confirmed 49 new cases since the borders fully opened on July 1st, where 31 of those new cases were recorded on the island of Grand Bahama.
 
The newly confirmed cases are as follows:
  • Case #139 is a 53 year old male of New Providence with a history of travel. This case is in isolation at home;
  • Case #140 is a 29 year old male of New Providence with a history of travel. This case is also in isolation at home;
  • Case #141 is a 58 year old female of New Providence with a history of travel. This case too is in isolation at home;
  • Case #142 is a 40 year old female of New Providence with no history of travel. This case remains in isolation at home.
  • Case #143 is a 30 year old female of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #144 is a 38 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #145 is a 31 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #146 is 17 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #147 is 50 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #148 is a 33 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #149 is a 30 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #150 is a 54 year old female of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #151 is a 46 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #152 is a 71 year old male of Grand Bahama.
  • Case #153 is a 41 year old female of Grand Bahama.
Health officials said the travel details and the condition of Cases #143 and#153 were unable to be confirmed at the time of the release of this report.
 
Investigations are ongoing and a complete update of pending details will be published at a later date.
 
Health officials continue to follow the condition of the other current COVID-19 positive cases.