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covid19

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

covid19

‘Don’t Get Cute!’ ‘No, I Don’t Want To Be Cute!’ Pintard’s 5 Day PCR Test Question Triggers House Floor Wrangle

A question asked by Marco City MP Michael Pintard regarding the perceived unequal application of the five-day PCR testing requirement sparked a morning row with Health Minister Michael Darville in the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

Pintard sought clarification of a clause before the passage of the COVID-19 Pandemic Special Provisions Bill 2021.

“I know the Progressive Liberal Party has prided itself on putting Bahamians first and so I find it a bit odd unless I mis-read it, that you were prepared to accept from the United States…a five-day old Covid test. Americans can take it five days before travelling and we are willing to accept it…” he said.

“It seems as if there is unequal treatment of Bahamians with Americans. If you can help me understand, why is there that disconnect?”

Darville took exception to Pintard’s question and responded, “Read it and come back.”

Pintard, taken aback by Darville, asks, “Am I incorrect or not?”

“You’re incorrect,” Darville blurted out on his feet.

“So help me understand,” Pintard retorted.

“Read it and call me,” Darville said, spurring laughter from other parliamentarians

“It’s that kind of arrogance that has some other people in jeopardy,” Pintard replied on his feet, as House Speaker Patricia Deveaux interrupted to restore order in the House.

“Honorable member for Marco City, let me remind you that one person on his feet at a time please,” she said.

Pintard said, “Yes, except the one on his feet is insulting me, Madam Speaker. I intend to stand up. Don’t tell me read the bill. I’m referencing the section because I read the section. Only that section I’m raising with you…Don’t get cute.”

“No, I don’t want to be cute,” Darville said. But I don’t want you to be disrespectful as well.”

Darville could not find the documents to explain to Pintard at the moment, giving the floor back to Pintard and stating he will address the matter later in his speech.

US Requires Bahamians to be Fully Vaccinated for Travel

Foreign travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 according to new rules established by the Biden administration.

The new system will be implemented in early November when Bahamians and other international travelers will only be allowed to fly to the US if they are fully vaccinated and able to show proof of vaccination before boarding a U.S bound flight.

White House Covid coordinator Jeffrey Zients said, “We will move to this much stricter global system, so we will have a consistent approach across all countries, it will require foreign nationals to be vaccinated, to prove they’re vaccinated, and then to go through the testing and contact tracing regiments.”

Foreign nationals will have to be tested three days before departure to the U.S. and show proof of a negative test.

The CDC will also require airlines to collect information for each U.S.-bound traveler, including their phone number and email address, to aid public health officials in contact tracing.

Why it matters

On the campaign trail, former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that the USA would soon require only fully vaccinated travelers to enter its borders. He admonished Bahamians to get fully vaccinated to be able to travel to the US.

The Bahamas has already secured three vaccines: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson.

State of play

The US has not yet stipulated what it constitutes as fully vaccinated and what vaccines will be qualified for entry.

The new policy applies only to air travel.

Mischief Makers Lose Seats in Parliament

Following the defeat of the Free National Movement at the polls, winners have emerged but none include the infamous parliamentarians who have openly defied the former government and its policies.

Former FNM members who became independent parliamentarians Reece Chipman and Halson Moultrie, and outspoken FNM MP Frederick McAlpine who was for years at odds with the party, all lost their seats in unofficial results.

Reece Chipman

Chipman has constantly criticized the government and has never supported its agenda. However, he still suffered politically.

Chipman was a newcomer to politics in 2017, running on the FNM ticket during the general elections, subsequently ousting former Prime Minister Perry Christie and winning a PLP stronghold.

Chipman voted against the VAT increase and the resolution to lease the Town Centre Mall from former Cabinet minister Brent Symonette.  He eventually resigned from the party in 2019 citing the government’s handling of Hurricane Dorian and partisan politics.

PLP Jomo Campbell replaces Chipman in Centerville.

Halson Moultrie

Moultrie received little votes in Nassau Village as constituents went with PLP Jamahl Strachan, instead.

Moultrie was an antagonistic voice in Parliament where he served as Speaker.  He resigned from the FNM in February of this year, but refused to resign as the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

Moultrie was a thorn in the side of the FNM government calling for autonomy of the House and upping his ante during the pandemic when he contrived an idea to hold an ‘open parliament’ after Parliament went on recess.

The Nassau Village MP gained the support of third parties like the Democratic National Alliance and the Coalition of Independents who joined him in his protest against the Minnis-led government and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But he did little to gain the support of his constituents.

Frederick McAlpine

McAlpine may have thought he was going to win Pineridge, but constituents replaced him with PLP Ginger Moxey.

He has been the most outspoken member of the FNM government, often hitting out at Minnis during his presentations in the House.

He ran as an independent candidate for the Pineridge constituency in this election after he did not receive the FNM nomination. Many still expected him to win his seat in Pineridge because of the loud support he garnered in spite of his opposition against his party members.

He has had a long and rather cold relationship with the FNM and said that members in his party wanted him gone while complaining that the party leader ignored him.

In a surprising move, Pineridge went with Moxey, despite McAlpine’s touts of his accomplishments in the area.

 

‘Growing Pains’ at the Advance Polls

As voters cast their ballots at the advance polls on Thursday, many news agencies have characterized the process as ‘not smooth.’

   

Voters turned out in large numbers at polling stations, standing in long lines and complaining of the wait time.

Sporadic crowds were seen at some stations as the COVID-19 Task Force sought to ensure order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Former PM Hubert Ingraham said he nor his wife’s name was on the list for the advance poll.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham left the polling station frustrated after he complained that his name was not listed at either of the two polling divisions he attended.

He later returned and was allowed to vote after an apology by Parliamentary Commissioner Lavado Duncanson.

But Minister of National Security Marvin Dames with responsibility for the Parliamentary Registration Department said he is “not surprise” at the complaints and agitation by some voters due to the increased number of voters including the elderly, allowed to vote at the advance polls.

Senior citizens are allowed to vote early to prevent exposure to the virus and long waits on lines on Election Day.

Dames said, “We would have recently had amendments to the Act. In 2017, we had a central area where advance poll voters were allowed to come and vote. That was when we had some 3,000 voters.  This is like a mini election. We have 30,000 voters.

“You’re going to have your growing pains. This is the first time we are doing this. The growing pains are not significant to really impact people’s right to vote. People are being allowed to exercise their right to vote,” Dames said.

He said his team will “continue to forge forward” and debrief to ensure a smoother running on September 16.

Officials Report Staggering Number of Additional COVID-19 Deaths

Health officials have revealed fifteen additional deaths related to COVID-19.

In its August 29 update report, officials confirmed that the deaths occurred between July 16 and August 23.

All of the deaths ranged from 36 to 91 years old.

Twelve of the deaths occurred in Grand Bahama while three occurred in Nassau.

In addition to deaths, officials reported 129 new COVID-19 cases. Out of the 129 cases, 114 were in New Providence; 4 in Abaco; 6 in Eleuthera; 1 in Berry Islands; 3 in Exuma; and 1 in Crooked Island.

Amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases, a General Election is looming. Political groups have taken to streets and parks to garner support for September 16.

The governing party has opted for drive-in rallies to control the spread of the virus, while the opposition party said it will hold out on drive-in rallies and has since taken to television to get its message to the public.

It remains to been seen how the political nuances will play out in the pandemic.

First J&J Vaccines Arrive in Country

38,400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the country on Thursday morning.

It is one of three vaccines secured by the government to inoculate the population against COVID-19.

To date, the government has secured over 550,000 doses of vaccines which include AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

The J&J vaccine is different from other vaccines in that it requires a single shot of the vaccine, while others require two shots against the virus.

How Well the J&J Vaccine Works

The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine was 66.3% effective in clinical trials (efficacy) at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection in people who received the vaccine and had no evidence of being previously infected. People had the most protection 2 weeks after getting vaccinated.

In the clinical trials, the vaccine had high efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death in people who did get sick. No one who got COVID-19 at least 4 weeks after receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine had to be hospitalized.

Health Officials Report 14 Additonal COVID-19 Deaths

Health officials have reported 14 additional deaths related to COVID-19.

In its daily update, all of the new cases of deaths occurred between August 13th and 17th.

All of the deaths were residents of New Providence, except three cases were in Abaco.

The deaths involved nine women and five men, between the ages of thirty-three and eighty-four years.

This latest report is startling as it represents the highest number of deaths recorded in a given report within a span of four days.

Health care workers have decried the overwhelming number of cases in the country as hospitals struggle to care for COVID-19 patients due to the lack of space.

Doctors have admonished Bahamians to get vaccinated to avoid hospitalizations and deaths.

Though not official, doctors speculate that the Delta variant may be in the country due to the high number of infections and deaths. Health workers say they await lab results from 100 samples to determine if the variant is in the Bahamas.

The 14 COVID-19 related deaths:

41 Female Abaco 17th August

69 Female New Providence 16th August

44 Female New Providence 16th August

46 Male New Providence 15th August

59 Female New Providence 15th August

48 Male New Providence 15th August

33 Female New Providence 15th August

71 Male New Providence 15th August

52 Male Abaco 15th August

75 Female New Providence 14th August

44 Female New Providence 14th August

84 Female New Providence 13th August

55 Female Abaco 13th August

63 Male New Providence 13th August

PMH Doctors: No More Room at the Inn

Doctors are pushing Bahamians to vaccinate as the country’s main hospital is strained. There are no more beds at Princess Margaret Hospital for COVID-19 patients and external coolers are being used to store bodies.

Reporters took a tour of the hospital on Tuesday and saw firsthand the overwhelming demand on the institution as patients crammed every accessible space.

A passionate Dr Raquell Davis-Hall, Consultant in the Accident and Emergency Department minced no words in describing the dire situation.

Dr Raquell Davis-Hall, Consultant in the A&E Department

“We pass the breaking point.”

She said the A&E Department is the only place that can be used for non-COVID patients waiting to be seen by a physician.

“A&E has been stretched out since.

“We are tired.”

Davis-Hall said since her time at PMH, these times have been the worst as patients are dying quicker. This has led her to believe that the Delta variant may be in the country, although this has not been officially verified.

Health officials are awaiting results sent to a lab overseas to determine if the Delta variant is in the country.

“Patients come in at 12 am. They are breathing. In the next two hours, those persons are dead.

“This Delta variant, we have no empirical evidence that it is in the country. But we know it’s here. And this is the worse it’s ever been. From the whole time of the pandemic, since March 2020, people are dying. Young people are dying.

“People pull up at the Critical Care Block, not breathing.”

Davis said the institution has no space for patients sent from the Family Islands.

The medical tents are being used to house some COVID-19 patients.

Reporters were taken outside where COVID-19 patients were also housed in tents donated by the Samaritan Purse.

Nursing Officer Prescola Rolle said all of the tents were full to capacity.

The medical tents can only hold 35 people. Presently 34 COVID-19 patients occupy the tents and only one more bed is available.

Wells’ Driver and Personal Assistant Return Money As Honorarium Backlash Grows

After facing public backlash, Health Minister Renward Wells said he has ordered his driver and personal assistant to return the payments issued to them for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a public statement, Wells said $1,158.40 was returned to the government.

Wells said he “made no recommendations as to who should receive an honorarium” but the recommendation was made by a select committee in the Ministry of Health.

Why it matters

Wells’ driver and personal assistant received an honorarium payout of $1158.40 issued for non-front line workers.

News circulated social media last week that the pair received payouts while healthcare workers waited to receive their honorarium payouts of $5000. Some healthcare workers have since ‘called in sick’ at the hospitals, in frustration that they were still awaiting the monies promised last year.

The big story

At the height of the pandemic, the government agreed to provide a $5,000 honorarium to frontline workers who provided care to COVID-19 patients from the onset of COVID, from March 19 to June 18; and a $100,000 life insurance policy if workers experience untimely death while serving.

It was an effort to attract a cadre of healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Minnis Touts Vaccine Rollout as Country Prepares for Pivotal Election