covid19

Monday, January 25, 2021

covid19

Sandilands Rehabilitation Center Confirms 6 New COVID-19 Cases

Six COVID-19 cases were confirmed today at The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC).

In a statement, the PHA confirmed that currently, six female patients at the Geriatric Hospital have tested positive for the infectious disease.

The patients have been placed in quarantine in keeping with COVID-19 protocols and out of an abundance of caution.

Additionally, SRC Employee Health Department has commenced the relevant protocols with regards to the assessment of staff and follow-through based on the results.

All SRC staff continue to adhere to the Infection Control Precautions and the institution continues to restrict visits at this time.

Health officials reported 13 new cases for the country on Thursday, with 9 in New Providence and 4 in Grand Bahama.

The country’s total stands at 8088 cases; 1141 active cases and 6720 recovered cases.

Minnis Sets His Eyes On Reopening Fully With Successful Vaccine Distribution

As the country awaits its share of the COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced an appointment of the COVID-19 Vaccine National Consultative Committee to ensure the proper distribution of the vaccine when it becomes available.

In his New Year National Address on Tuesday evening, Minnis said the vaccines will ensure a reopening of the country in the coming months.

The Committee is chaired by Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, OD, CMG, and is made up of public health experts, and representatives of various sectors, including, religious and community leaders.

Why it matters?

Successful vaccines like Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca are now available on the world market.

The Bahamas has already secured vaccines for 20% of the population, through the COVAX Facility and World Health and Pan American Health Organisations.

The Bahamas awaits its share.

Minnis on restrictions and vaccine availability

  • Dr. Minnis did not say exactly when the restrictions and curfews will be relaxed, but he said he is targetting the coming months.

“Thankfully, because there are now successful vaccines for COVID-19, our country, and our economy, are set to reopen more fully in the months ahead.

“The end is in sight. Restrictions will end. We will get back to our way of life. Jobs and the economy, are coming back.

  • Minnis, aware that variants of COVID-19 have evolved in countries around the world, he said if the variants come into the country, the Bahamian people can expect tighter measures to fight the infection.

“We still have a few more months to go, especially as the pandemic continues to rage, in countries all around us.

“Internationally, more infectious variants of the virus have evolved, and been detected. It is possible, that cases will rise again before vaccines arrive. If this happens, as a Government and people, we will have to return, to some of the measures that worked, to beat back previous waves. Through our experience during the pandemic year, we now know the formula that works,” Minnis said.

Govt Won’t Propose COVID-19 Vaccine for Children

The Ministry of Health is setting the record straight following Health Minister Renward Wells’ assertion that the government is making a decision on whether or not students will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine to return to in-person learning.

The Ministry of Health in a statement said definitively, that children will not be given the COVID-19 vaccine.

“No one under the age of 18 years of age, including children in The Bahamas, will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Why it matters

Renward Wells, in an impromptu press briefing, said officials were in discussion about the administration of the vaccine to students while promising to come back to the Bahamian people with the final decision, acknowledging that some vaccines are required, while others, like the flu vaccines are not required.

The big picture

Many Bahamians are apprehensive about the COVID-19 vaccine since the onset of the pandemic.

What the ministry of health says

  • The ministry said “Although the government of the Bahamas has been proactive in securing mechanisms that will give the Bahamian people access to this much-needed vaccine, the Ministry of Health underscores that administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is entirely voluntary. In other words, only those who wish to receive the vaccine can avail themselves of it.
  • The Ministry further states that it will continue to comport with best practice and international standards on medical and public health matters. This extends to the age recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccine administration. From current knowledge, the approved age range for the
        • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is 16 years and older; and
        • Moderna is 18 years and older
  • The ministry notes the global scientific clinical trials currently underway to determine/study the safety and efficacy of this vaccine in persons 12 to 17 years of age. We assure the Bahamian people that COVID-19 vaccination among children will not be offered within this sub-population until evidence suggests it is safe to do so, and with the consent of parents and guardians.

Can Bahamas Negotiate a Better Vaccine Deal? European Politician Tweets Price List to the Anger of Pfizer.

As countries around the world clamor for access to vaccines for their population, Belgium’s budget state secretary, Eva De Bleeker, used Twitter to post a price list of the leading vaccines. But she quickly deleted the post before it was screen-shot and shared.

Why it matters

The price of COVID19 vaccines is considered a “commercial secret.” In fact, Pfizer complained that the Belgian minister violated its confidentiality. The company said, “These prices are covered by a confidentiality clause in the contract with the European Commission,” said Elisabeth Schraepen, the US drugmaker’s spokeswoman for the Benelux region to the Belgian daily Le Soir.

Driving the news

The price list shows that Moderna is the most expensive of the leading six vaccinations, while Oxford/AstraZeneca is the least expensive. Other countries can now negotiate a better deal with the pharmaceutical companies since the release of these details.

This is the list of what the EU is paying, that was shared via Twitter:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca: €1.78 (£1.61)= $2.36 ($2.14)
  • Johnson & Johnson: $8.50 (£6.30)= $11.28 ($8.36)
  • Sanofi/GSK: €7.56 = $10.03
  • Pfizer/BioNTech: €12= $15.92
  • CureVac: €10=$13.27
  • Moderna: $18= $23.88

Worth noting

Nearly three weeks ago, Minister of Health Renward Wells expressed a preference for the Oxford and Moderna vaccines. However, he said if the country is able to access the Pfizer vaccine first, then “we’ll go with that.”

Wells revealed to the Nassau Guardian that the price of the Oxford vaccine will cost about £2, which equates to $4 per dose.

“I think the one through the COVAX facility is about $15 per dose,” Wells said.

New Coronavirus Strain Emerges. Some Countries Ban Travel To and From UK

A growing number of European countries have stopped travel from Britain after a new virus strain was discovered in that country. At least six European countries have announced flights will no longer fly there, while France and Belgium have banned train travel.

Why it matters

Health officials in the U.S and the UK said the strain apparently infects more easily than others. But they are still examining if it is more deadly. It is believed to be 70% more transmissible.

What’s driving the news

The British government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, said the strain “moves fast and is becoming the dominant variant,” causing over 60% of infections in London by December, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The new strain is said to have nearly two dozen mutations and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target.

“I’m worried about this, for sure,” but it’s too soon to know how important it ultimately will prove to be, said Dr. Ravi Gupta, who studies viruses at the University of Cambridge in England.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control.”

US Media Wrongly Reports on COVID-19 Infections in the Bahamas. But Ministry Steps In

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had to correct Channel 10 Miami News broadcast when television broadcasters incorrectly reported the coronavirus numbers in the Bahamas while warning Americans of traveling to the country based on Centers for Disease Control’s travel advisory for the Bahamas.

What happened and why it matterscovid19

  • The reporter said that there were 7,460 COVID-19 cases reported in the Bahamas on Tuesday, when in fact the number for that day was 29. The 7,460-figure referred to in the broadcast was the total number of cases recorded in the Bahamas to that date. The news story was repeated on several social media outlets and at least one local news station.
  • The incorrect reporting can adversely affect the country’s already ailing tourism industry as officials move to increase tourism numbers.

The big picture

The US government’s recent advisory is at a level 4, ‘very high level,’ warning its citizens that they should avoid all travel to the Bahamas, as travel “may increase their chances of getting and spreading COVID-19.” US travel advisories are issued at various levels for all countries around the world. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says such advisories are normal and are done in accordance with US regulations.

What the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did to correct the error

  • One report suggested that the Ministry took no action to correct this mistake made by Channel 10 and the Ministry’s leadership in Miami was called into question.
  • The Bahamas Consul-General in Miami “immediately and appropriately” contacted Channel 10 to point out the error. Channel 10 subsequently made a retraction the same day.
  • Furthermore, the Consul-General provided Channel 10 with the correct statistics for the Bahamas. The correction is on the website of Channel 10 and states, “Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that 7,460 cases of COVID-19 had been reported on Tuesday. That number is, in fact, the total number of cases that have been confirmed in the Bahamas to date. We regret this error.”

Worth noting

  • COVID-19 infections are actually trending downward based on the release of the latest statistics. Thirteen new cases were confirmed by health officials on Thursday:
    • New Providence–8
    • Grand Bahama–3
    • Abaco–1
    • Exuma–1

Featured Image: Tribune

Noted Psychologist Succumbs to COVID-19 in Florida

It was revealed that noted psychologist Dr Timothy McCartney succumbed to COVID-19. The 87-year-old died in Florida on Sunday, after being diagnosed with the infection sometime last week.

McCartney’s wife was also stricken with the virus.

Who was Dr Timothy McCartney?

  • Dr. McCartney was a Bahamian pioneer in psychology.
  • He obtained a doctorate in psychology from the University of Strasbourg in France. He also studied in the United States, Switzerland, Jamaica and England.
  • He served as a clinical psychologist for the Bahamas Ministry of Health from 1967 to 1993.
  • He made tremendous contributions to national life and to an understanding of mental health in The Bahamas. In 1969, he was awarded the Sir Victor Sassoon Golden Heart Award.

What PM Hubert Minnis says about his death

  • “I was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Timothy McCartney, who passed away this morning (Sunday) in Florida. Born in 1933, Timothy McCartney was an exuberant, generous, kind-hearted man who excelled as a teacher and as a counselor. A deeply spiritual and creative individual, he dedicated his life to the well-being and enrichment of his family, friends, students, clients, and colleagues.
  • He was a retired professor emeritus and clinical psychologist, who taught in the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, between 1993 and 2014. He also served as an organizational development consultant and as a facilitator of national and international courses and presentations.”

What Opposition Leader Philip Davis says about his death

  • “A trailblazer in his field locally and the personification of Bahamian exceptionalism internationally, Dr. McCartney was the first Bahamian to earn a doctorate degree in psychology. His broad and seminal research and development work include the book ‘Neurosis Under the Sun’, his extensive analyses on Bahamian sexuality, and work on the impact of the use of marijuana.
  • “He is perhaps most noted for his pioneering work in the fields of mental health and alcoholism – openly tackling the stigmas and shame attached to these diseases and addictions by bringing these sensitive social and health issues into the Bahamian mainstream for open, frank and honest public discussion and action through treatment.”

Featured image: The Tribune

It Gets Worse in Exuma and Eleuthera

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis addressed the House of Assembly on Wednesday morning, bearing bad news. He said Exuma and Eleuthera’s COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing.

As of yesterday, Tuesday 17th,  there were a total of 99 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Exuma, and on Eleuthera, a total of 143 confirmed cases.

Why it matters

  • The competent authority in recent weeks announced restrictive measures for mainland Exuma, and mainland Eleuthera, due to exponential increases in new cases of COVID-19 on those islands.

What’s happening?

  • Health officials report that from the analysis of the map of cases, the spread is occurring throughout Exuma.
  • From interviews conducted in the community by the health team, some people are still having gatherings, and residents believe this is largely contributing to the spread of COVID-19 on Exuma.
  • A team from the Ministry of Health made up of members of the contact tracing team and the surveillance unit is currently in Exuma to assess the COVID-19 situation.
  • A health team is scheduled to return to Eleuthera next week to complete a follow-up assessment and to determine the impact of the recently imposed restrictive measures on that island.

Partiers Ignore COVID-19 Measures. They are Slapped with Fines

The proprietor, manager and patrons of a restaurant and bar were cited for violating COVID-19 Emergency Order.

A video circulated on social media, showing scores of patrons hurriedly exiting the establishment as police officers inspected and issued tickets.

What is known

  • Shortly after 6:00 pm, officers from the Northeastern Division and COVID-19 Enforcement Unit were alerted to a social gathering at a lounge located on Madeira Street, Palmdale.
  • It was discovered that the patrons and proprietor were in violation of the COVID19 Emergency Order.
  • The proprietor and the manager of the establishment were cited for hosting a social gathering and failing to practice social distancing.
  • A number of the patrons were also cited for attending the party and failing to practice social distancing and wear a mask.
Police citing attendees and managers at the social gathering.

Bimini’s ‘Reckless’ Partygoers Can Set the Country Back

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said the actions taken by partygoers in Bimini over the weekend is simply “irresponsible,” as the country tries to reopen.

Minnis told The Guardian “Something like that can set us back.”

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

When asked if he would consider reimposing restrictions on Bimini, though not direct, Minnis said a decision would be based on data.

Why it matters?

Bimini reported 11 new cases on Sunday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Family Islands. Restrictions like weekday curfew and weekend 24-hour lockdowns were imposed on Eleuthera and Exuma after these islands saw high cases of the virus.

Bimini shares a total of 74 COVID-19 with Cat Cay.

Worthnoting

Police has citated the organisers and partygoers of the event.