ministryofhealth

Monday, April 12, 2021

ministryofhealth

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.”

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.

Wells Commits to Payment for COVID Healthworkers

Minister of Health Reward Wells said healthcare officials will be paid for the services that they gave during the onset of the pandemic, as promised by the government.

Why it matters

  • The government promised voluntary payment to health workers who worked between March and June. They will receive–an honorarium of $5000.  Family members of healthcare workers who lost their loved ones will receive $100,000.
  • On Monday, the Bahamas Nurses Union said the government has until December 31st to pay them for their services. The union’s president Amancha Williams called the government “dishonest”  as they have yet to receive the honorarium.

What Health Minister Renward Wells says

Renward Wells acknowledges the honorarium is still outstanding but promises the payment of the monies when the government is in a better position to do so.

  • He says, “No one has gotten the honorary. No one has. Now what the gov of the Bahamas has also been doing is paying the overtime as a result of covid, in paying the nurses the overtime. The doctors, we are still looking at their overtime. And we’re looking for overtime for the support staff.”
  • Wells adds, “We will pay the honorarium to those folks who qualify for the honorarium. It’s for everybody in the healthcare system. It was to encourage folks initially at the beginning of the pandemic who stepped forward and said, ‘Here am I Lord, send me.’ That is what it was.”

What BNU Amancha Wiliams says

Amancha Williams told the Tribune that the union wishes for better treatment from the government.

  • “Our essential staff have worked and have sacrificed their families. Many of their family members were sick and some of them were sick. We have lost three nurses to COVID. These families have yet to hear anybody consult them on the insurance. The government has yet to speak to these families on their insurances. This looks terrible on the government.”
  • Williams added, “You cannot treat healthcare workers like that. You cannot treat all the essential workers like this. If you couldn’t afford it, then come to the table and speak to the unions. We understand that this might be an economical problem, but you have not cut the salaries of the government ministers or the members of Parliament and you are still making sidewalks.

 

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

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.

New Providence and Abaco are Looking COVID-19 Good

Health officials have seen major improvements in New Providence and Abaco as COVID-19 cases decrease since the last four weeks of weekend lockdowns and daily curfews.

There is a 50% decrease in new cases between October 10th and November 5th. And, in the last 7 days, statistics show an 8 percent decrease.

The big picture

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis implemented restricted measures for New Providence and Abaco in early October, including a 24-hour weekend lockdown and a return of curfews, emphasizing that coronavirus cases were deteriorating and the healthcare system was near collapse.

Worthnoting

  • 34 new cases were confirmed on Thursday. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas to 6,916.
  • Total COVID-19 hospitalizations have significantly reduced and currently stand at 59, which is down from the high of 122 on 22nd October.
  • At the Princess Margaret Hospital, there are 27 COVID-19 patients who are moderately ill. There are no patients in ICU at PMH presently.
  • 97 persons recovered from COVID-19 yesterday. This brings the total number of recoveries to 4,876. The recovery rate is now at 70.5%.
  • In New Providence, there are 13 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Doctor’s Hospital. 10 are moderately ill and 3 are in ICU.
  • There are 5 moderately ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized at the South Beach Acute Care and Referral Centre.

Samaritan’s Purse Sets Up Field Hospital As COVID-19 Surges

The Samaritan’s Purse comes to the aid of the Bahamas again, more than one year after assisting the Bahamas after the passage of Hurricane Dorian.

The organization led by Franklin Graham is deploying a field hospital in Nassau as health facilities grapple with increases in COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters?

The Bahamas has over 2000 active cases that are putting extra pressure on the country’s premier health facility, Princess Margaret Hospital. The health facilities are full and nurses and doctors are overwhelmed as a number of health workers suffer from the infectious virus or have been placed in quarantine due to exposure.

The details on how it will work

  • Samaritan’s Purse will provide a 28 bed COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Unit to increase patient capacity.
  • The tented inpatient facility will be located adjacent to the Princess Margaret Hospital.
  • It will also serve as a COVID-19 referral center for the Bahamas.
  • This unit will not include ICU treatment, but only step-down care.
  • No ventilators will be provided or operated by Samaritan’s Purse.
  • Samaritan’s Purse will provide the Unit and all staffing to operate for a 3 to 6 week period. Personnel will consist of 30 staff members, including medical professionals required to provide clinical care and operations staff to oversee the initial set-up and supporting logistics.
  • Samaritan’s Purse will also provide Infection Prevention Control training to protect Bahamian healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection.
  • Public Health staff will work alongside Samaritan’s Purse. The treatment unit will be donated to the Government of The Bahamas upon Samaritan’s Purse’s departure.

What did they say?

Health Minister Renward Wells

“This unit is being set up as a proactive and precautionary measure. The entire world, including the Bahamas, is experiencing the second wave of COVID-19. The Bahamas and countries in the Northern Hemisphere are in flu season and approaching winter.

Wells said, “It is critical that the Bahamas has additional healthcare capacity as the global pandemic continues, with more waves of the virus likely, which is why we continue to augment healthcare capacity here at home.”

CEO and Pastor Franklin Graham

“Hospital staff is overwhelmed and exhausted as the number of coronavirus patients in the Bahamas reaches an all-time high.

“Our team’s response to the hard places in Jesus’ name, this is the right place to go to make a difference in the lives of hurting families.”

Featured pictures: Samaritan’s Purse

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