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ministerofhealth

Saturday, July 2, 2022

ministerofhealth

Ingraham’s Endorsement Did Little to Save Sands

FNM Elizabeth MP Duane Sands did not survive at the voting polls. Instead, PLP Jobeth Coleby-Davis beat him to become the new parliamentarian for the Elizabeth constituency.

Sands expected a win at the polls. He seemed to have a good repertoire with his constituents and touted his list of accomplishments in the area.

Poll numbers showed that he and Coleby-Davis were running a close race but it was not enough for Sands to win.

Why it matters

Sands was endorsed by former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham in the weeks leading up to the election. Ingraham showed up in the Elizabeth constituency to publicly express support for Sands, whom he called “a great man,” even expressing hope that Sands would become prime minister.

Ingraham did not endorse Minnis during this election cycle, as he had done in 2017.

Sands’ loss a the polls means he would not have the opportunity to run against Minnis for party leader when the FNM holds convention.

The big picture

In 2017, Sands won the Elizabeth constituency, doubling the votes to beat the PLP candidate.

Sands was a former minister of health but resigned last year amid controversy over donated 2,500 COVID-19 test swabs, when the donors were allowed to disembark on New Providence and quarantine at home while the country’s borders were closed.

Ingraham was hoping that Sands would have been re-elected to the House and eventually become prime minister, which he likened to his experience.

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.

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.”

How Bad Is It? Enough to Retighten Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Spiral

The government will retighten COVID-19 restrictions as health officials battle the latest swell in new infections.

Health officials confirmed 110 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, which brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 13,957.

A fifty-year-old woman from New Providence died on Thurday. This brings the total number of
confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 280. Twenty-three deaths are still being investigated.

Here are the new measures:

  1. Curfew changes on Monday from 10 pm to 5am for New Providence, Grand Bahama, North and South Eleuthera and Harbour Island.
  2. Unvaccinated travelers will require a PCR negative test.
  3. Church services will be reduced to 33% capacity and limited to 1 hour of service.
  4. Political groups are limited to 5 people and must be fully vaccinated.
  5. Weddings are limited to 30 people, excluding the officiant.
  6. Funerals are limited to the outdoors with a maximum of 30 people excluding workers and the officiant.
  7. Restaurants are limited to outdoors and takeaway services.
  8. Spas will be prohibited.
  9. Exercise groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people. There will be no recreational or sporting activities.
  10. Groups congregating on the beaches and parks should be no more than 5 people.

Watson’s Posturing; He’s Entitled to His Own Opinion, But Not Vaccination Facts

Clint Watson, the host of Beyond the Headlines, vehemently resisted recent comments by Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, when he stated that the country is presently in two pandemics–one for vaccinated individuals and another for non-vaccinated individuals.

Minnis was addressing the climb in COVID19 cases in the country, noting that it was worrying as the Bahamas experiences a 3rd wave of the virus.

“One thing the Bahamian populace must understand, we are in two pandemics. The vaccinated individuals are now out of the pandemic. The pandemic is finished for the vaccinated.

“The non-vaccinated are still in the pandemic. Therefore, it is essential for us to aggressively pursue vaccines so that we can vaccinate our populace as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can move into the vaccinated portion, thus the non-pandemic,” Minnis said.

Watson, during the taping of his show, is taken aback by the comments and is heard telling producers, “Did he say the pandemic is over for the vaccinated? No, no, no. I’m sorry. Control room can you play that sound bite again, please? No, no. I heard wrong.”

With a mocking smile, Watson then goes on to say, “How did he come to that conclusion? …I’m confused.”

Why is Watson confused? The facts about the pandemic are indisputable.

Here’s how Minnis came to that conclusion.

  1. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said the virus is targeting people who are unvaccinated.  She said, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated” as deaths and hospitalization are among the unvaccinated people.
  2. Fully vaccinated people who may contract the virus are less likely to spread the virus to others as they have less virus in their system compared to unvaccinated people, according to Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor.
  3. USA President Joe Biden, acknowledging that cases of COVID-19 have tripled over recent weeks in the US, stated on Friday, “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.”

Watson, as the host of an opinionated show, is entitled to his own thoughts and feelings. However, he is not entitled to the facts, no matter how much passion he demonstrates.

How is Minnis wrong about the statement he made? Does Watson need to hear PLP ‘experts’ say so before he believes?

Does Watson need to see body counts or hospitalization statistics of the unvaccinated?

Is Watson so politically blinded that anything Minnis says he refuses to believe?

Watson is simply benighted or politically posturing for his audience.

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.”

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

 

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.

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

The Bahamas Is Closer to a COVID-19 Vaccine. Will You Be Vaccinated?

As the world fights to develop and mass-produce an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, the Bahamas is seeking to secure enough vaccine to help fight the virus in the country.

Like many governments around the world, the Bahamas’ government is hoping the vaccine will assist in returning daily life to normalcy.

What is the status of the COVID-19 vaccine for the Bahamas?

Health Minister Renward Wells announced that the Cabinet of the Bahamas has approved vaccination for 20 percent of the population through the World Health Organisation via the Pan American Health Organisation.

Wells said the Bahamas will make a down payment of $2 million to ensure 80,000 people including front line workers and the country’s most vulnerable, are vaccinated.

The country is expected to receive the vaccines in the first phase of the distribution, he said.

Wells said all countries are required to make a down payment on the vaccines.

How does a vaccine work?

According to the WHO, vaccines save millions of lives each year, and work to prepare the immune system to recognize and fight off the virus.

If the body is exposed to the virus, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness, the WHO says.

Vaccines have been used to prevent numerous life-threatening diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles.

WHO says currently there are over 169 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with 26 of these in the human trial phase.

The health organization says it is working with scientists, business, and global health organizations to speed up the pandemic response.

When a safe and effective vaccine is found, WHO says it will facilitate the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries. People most at risk will be prioritized.