renwardwells

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

renwardwells

Moultrie Calls Out PM and Abruptly Adjourns the House. Here’s Why

In a surprising move in the House of Assembly today, House Speaker Halson Moultrie suspended the House session, setting a new date for parliamentarians to meet after the clerk tested positive for COVID-19.

But before adjourning the House, he openly rebuked Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and Government Business Leader Renward Wells for permitting the House to meet despite the positive case among staff and the parliament not being sanitized before meeting.

Moultrie said he reached out to both Minnis and Wells to determine if House should still meet today, and determine the measures staff should take, only to receive a message from Minnis saying, “noted.”

Another staffer, who Moultrie said should have been in quarantine, Asharan Lightbourne was “called upon to be here this morning, in breach of the request or the instruction of the speaker that [she] should be in quarantine,” he said.

The big picture

Since the advent of COVID-19, Moultrie has been calling on the government to pass a resolution to meet in hybrid form or virtually to prevent chances of more parliamentarians from contracting the virus. But those calls were not adhered to.

Why it matters

A staff member tested positive for the virus. Though not identified, it is believed to be the chief clerk as he was noticeably absent today. The Speaker described the staffer as the “closest person to him in the House.”

The staffer came to work on Monday and Tuesday showing symptoms of the virus, but returned home early after not feeling well. However, came back to work last week Wednesday when parliamentarians met.

His positive diagnosis was revealed yesterday.

What Moultrie is saying

Moultrie said parliament is in breach of its own order. “This is my final straw when it comes to the disrespect of the speaker. According to the rules, when the behaviour of a member is creating disorder, the speaker is authorized by rule 88, subsection 9 to adjourn the parliament until the circumstance is fixed,” he said.

“I don’t pick fights or wars, but if you want war, you will get a war. If you don’t want a war, don’t start one.”

Referencing Minnis who earlier stated that he read a book on wars, Moultrie continued, “So don’t come in this parliament talking about reading books of war. More than one person in this parliament read books of war.”

State of play

Because of the adjournment by Moultrie, the next session of the House will be May 3 at 10 am.

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)

The Arrival of 20,000 Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine: A Light at the End of the Tunnel

The 20,000 vaccine doses donated to the Bahamas by India, arrived on Wednesday morning.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Minister of Health Renward Wells and other officials were on hand at the Lynden Pindling International Airport to receive the batch of Astra Zeneca vaccines, the first to arrive in the country.

Minnis hailed the much-anticipated cargo as “a light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said this shipment will assist the Bahamas in getting back to a sense of normalcy after nearly one year of lockdowns and curfews.

Minnis said Junkanooers have contacted him, eager to receive the vaccine. “Junkanooers, get ready for Christmas. Let’s rock and roll.”

He assured the public that the vaccination rollout will commence as soon as next week, as he is in constant consultation with his advisor Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis and Chief Medical Officer Pearl McMillan, members of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Consultative Committee.

“As the day approach, they will keep you updated,” he said. “Everything will be totally transparent.”

Minnis said this week will be a trial run. And next week, the inoculation process will begin. He also noted that the IT program has already been completed in preparation for the digital registration of individuals wanting to take the vaccine.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

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