Saturday, September 30, 2023


Families of Dead COVID-19 Healthcare Workers Get Death Benefit Cheques

Two families of deceased COVID-19 health care workers were granted payments today, following recent ‘sickouts’ across healthcare institutions over the disbursements of honorarium payouts.

The families of Nurse Sherrilyn Charlton-Bain and Custodian Marion Burrows-McKinney were presented with cheques, totaling $100,000.

Carlton-Bain and Burrows-McKinney died during the first wave of the pandemic. Charlton-Bain, deployed to the Prison Health Services, passed on October 10 and Burrows-McKinney, deployed at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) died on September 29.

The big story

At the height of the pandemic, the government agreed to provide a $5,000 honorarium to those frontline workers who provided care to COVID-19 patients from the onset of COVID, and a $100,000 life insurance policy if workers experience untimely death while serving.

It was an effort to provide a cadre of healthcare workers during the period March 19–June 18, 2020.

Why it matters

For the past week, healthcare workers in New Providence and Grand Bahama abandoned services and ‘called in sick’ over COVID-19 honorarium payouts. Some health workers said they were frustrated that they were left out of the disbursements of monies, but Minister of Health Renward Wells maintained that the payout was not intended for everyone as some workers did not meet the criteria as established by the Cabinet for payment of the honorarium.

What Wells said today

Wells stated that these challenging times have highlighted the important roles healthcare and frontline workers play.

Wells added, “The government instituted a death benefit to healthcare workers for a limited time to those who may have potentially lost their lives from COVID-19.”

He explained that both healthcare workers qualified for that death benefit, and now the government can pass on what was held in trust for both of them to their families.

“To the family members of Nurse Sherrilyn Charlton-Bain and Mrs. Marion Burrows-McKinney, we know that no monetary value can replace the life of your mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt or friend.  However, it is hoped that it will provide for a time the necessary funding that would have ordinarily been supplemented by your loved ones’ income.”

PM of St Vincent and Grenadines Attacked During Anti-Vaccine Protest

Update: PM Ralph Gonsalves was flown to Barbados to receive medical assistance.

Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves suffered a bloodied head after anti-vaccine protesters hurled an object at him when he emerged from his vehicle as he walked toward the Parliament building on Thursday evening.

A photograph circulated social media showing the injured prime minister with a bloodied shirt.

When word spread that the 74-year-old Caribbean leader was hit and injured, some protesters celebrated while beating drums, “The World Boss head buss!”

Gonsalves had given himself the name, ‘World Boss’ during the 2020 General Elections, having led the country to a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Strong police presence now protects Gonsalves and Parliament building.

The big story

Protesters believed to be supporters of the official opposition, The New Democratic Party (NDP) along with two public service unions marched the streets to protests the legislation that the government said would permit the vaccination of public sector workers, considered to be front line workers.

Protesters believe proposed changes to the Public Health Act, could force some workers out of their jobs if they do not vaccinate.

State of play

The government is proposing to remove the word “voluntary” from a section of the law that speaks to vaccination against an illness that has triggered the declaration of a public health emergency — as is the case with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Church of God Event Tied to Latest COVID-19 Deaths and Hospitalizations

Some congregants of the Church of God denomination in the Bahamas have died and others remain in the hospital after being infected with COVID-19 at a superspreader event.

Reports say the pentecostal denomination held a Youth Conclave at its William Johnson Auditorium earlier in the month, where all of its church branches attended.

The event became a hotspot for the infectious disease, which resulted in the spread among its congregants, which ultimately caused the closure of its branches for two weeks.

Vision of Hope Church of God in Yamacraw bore the brunt of infections. Reports say the church has since seen five deaths in its church as others are hospitalized at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Other infections remain among its varied branches.

Its Administrative Bishop Moses Johnson has said nothing publicly on the matter, except to post to social media stating “The Church of God Bahamas is praying for COVID-19 patients, covering the Church of God family and all health care workers.”

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis has since limited worship service times in the country to one hour with 33% occupancy.

President of the Bahamas Christian Council Bishop Delton Fernander and Pastor of Mount Tabor Neil Ellis have criticized the measure stating that government should not dictate to the church the number of hours spent at a facility.

Health officials reported 132 new cases on Thursday, and 88 new cases were reported on Wednesday. There are presently 1723 active cases in the country.

Photo credit: Taken from social media, showing the congregation at its 66th Annual Youth Conclave

‘I Am in the Pulpit’: Director General Defiant Over Worship Time Limit

Director General of Bahamas Information Services Kevin Harris said he will not comply with the Emergency Order which limits church services to one hour.

In a social media post, a defiant Harris who also serves as Pastor of Charisma Church said he alone will make that determination for his congregation.

“As pastor, I will determine how long my service and my sermon will run.

“There is no limit on how long I can worship God.”

In another post, Harris continues to resist the measures.

“If there is no limit on how long you can be in the number house, there should be no limit on how long I can be in the Lord’s house.”

Then on Sunday, Harris further challenged the new order which would have taken effect on Monday, stating, “I am in worship. I am in the house of the Lord. I am in the pulpit. I will step out once I am done.”

The big picture

In the face of climbing COVID-19 cases in the country, orders were reintroduced by the competent authority on Monday, to control the spread of the infectious disease.  Among them, places of worship were forced to limit the number of hours in a facility.

The order also limits the occupancy of a church facility to 33%.

Health officials reported 75 new cases on Monday, with the majority concentrated in the capital.

There are a total of 14,327 confirmed cases with 1,531 active cases.

Officials also confirmed that the death of a 42-year-old man of New Providence, on July 10, was COVID-19 related.

Why it matters

Harris, a former radio personality and talk show host, has been a long-time supporter of Minnis and was appointed to the post at BIS in 2018 when the FNM government won the 2017 General Election.

Harris heads the organization which has the responsibility for disseminating government information.

Harris joins other pastors in expressing dismay with the new measures. President of the Bahamas Christian Council, Bishop Delton Fernander, and Bishop Neil Ellis of Mt Tabor have taken to the media to express their displeasure with the order.



Unvaccinated Overwhelm PMH

Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, Director of the Infectious Disease Programme at the Ministry of Health said more than 98% of hospitalizations and deaths at the Princess Margaret Hospital are among unvaccinated people.

Speaking at the latest Ministry of Health’s press conference on Friday, Forbes said the infectious disease is attacking individuals not fully vaccinated from the virus.

“98.3% of the infected have had no vaccination. A smaller percentage had one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.

Forbes added that individuals with just one jab of the vaccine contracted the virus less than 14 days after inoculation.

“Getting vaccinated will protect against hospitalization and death,” she said.

These comments came after Prime Minister Hubert Minnis received criticism from some fractions of society when he suggested that the virus was over for the vaccinated.

Last week, Minnis stated that the vaccinated individuals are now out of the pandemic while the non-vaccinated people are still in the pandemic.

When asked to respond to this claim made by Minnis, Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health said, “He is partly right. More and more studies are coming through to show that those persons who have been vaccinated are less likely to have severe illness, hospitalization and death.”

State of play

Health officials said hospitalizations in this third wave have been much higher than in the second wave.

Officials said the country’s medical institutions experienced a peak in hospitalizations on July 20, which show a record of 92 cases.

Health Minister Renward Wells said, “These excessive numbers have placed our public health system to the test.”

The big picture

One hundred and ten new cases were confirmed on Thursday. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 13,957, with 1351 active cases.

A 50-year-old woman from New Providence died yesterday, due to the virus. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 280 people. Twenty-three deaths remain under investigation.


Boaters Add to COVID-19 Dashboard Increase

Minister of Health Renward Wells clarifying the COVID statistics that recently showed an unexpected jump in COVID-19 cases. Wells said the new cases are a result of infection by yachters.

Why it matters

The statistics released by health officials showed seven new cases on Tuesday. However, by Wednesday, the statistics showed 21 new COVID-19 cases, causing alarm.

What happened

  • 11 of the 21 cases are crew members of a yacht who were in the Bahamas for nearly three weeks.
  • Health Minister Wells said the crew members of the yacht were tested weekly which determined the 11 people were positive for the virus.
  • The asymptomatic cases were quarantined and the systematic cases were isolated. All cases are being monitored by health officials, Wells assured.
  • Wells said, “So the true numbers for the test yesterday as was said by the prime minister is 10.”

Bimini Partygoers Ticketed as COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket on the Island

Bimini police issued tickets to a large group of young people seen in a video violating the COVID-19 emergency order while attending a beach party on that island.

The video, which made the rounds on social media shows a crowd on a beach, where attendees wore no masks nor practiced social distancing. Attendees stood closely together, singing and dancing.

The deejay is seemingly in defiance of the protocols, stating, “It’s after 12. Bimini ain’t on no curfew. Nassau on curfew. It’s after 12. We are in Bimini.”

Why it matters?

The island has a total of 74 COVID-19 cases to date, with 11 new cases reported on Sunday.

The big picture

  • Back in May, a two-week lockdown was imposed after cases skyrocketed on the island and it was deemed a ‘hotspot.’ Officials believed the lockdown measures curtailed the increase and flattened the curve on that island.
  • The island recorded the country’s first coronavirus death, 57-year-Kim Johnson, who died after being airlifted to New Providence. She later tested positive for the virus.

What police say

  • The party was at Radio Beach, in Alice Town, held on Saturday night.
  • Party-goers were not given permission to hold the party.
  • The hosts and attendees were ticketed, and police are looking to identify the others to serve citations.
  • Police say these actions will not be tolerated and they will enforce the law.

It remains to be seen if the island will be placed on a second lockdown as cases rise again.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

Royal Caribbean is Looking for Cruise Testers. Here’s How You Can Sign Up

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is seeking volunteers to test its cruises as it restarts voyages following suspensions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters

The US Center for Disease Control lifted cruise suspensions on Oct 31st, but cruise lines must conduct test sailings in the advent of new health protocols in the industry. Then cruise lines can officially begin taking passengers onboard.

What they say

Royal Caribbean’s Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed, said, “We’re going to be doing a series of sailings using our employees and other volunteers to test out the new protocols and make tweaks and modifications to ensure that everything is running smoothly and still deliver that Royal Caribbean amazing vacation experience.”

What are the requirements?

  • A volunteer will be you must be 18 or older.
  • They must have written proof that they have no pre-existing medical conditions that would place them at high-risk for COVID-19.
  • They must follow testing protocols, including rapid testing before embarkation and disembarkation.
  • Volunteers must submit to the cruise ship’s monitored observation period
  • Volunteer passengers will be informed of the “inherently risky activity” of their test sailing with untested health and safety protocols.

What’s being tested?

  • Embarkation and disembarkation procedures, including terminal check-in
  • Activities on aboard, including dining and entertainment venues; the ship must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated
  • Private island shore excursions (if a port is visited)
  • Evacuation procedures
  • Transfer of symptomatic passengers or crew, or those who test positive for SARSCoV-2, from cabins to isolation rooms
  • Quarantine of all remaining passengers and non-essential crew

Volunteers can sign up at https://www.facebook.com/groups/rcibackatsea/

Featured Image: Royal Caribbean Cruise