renwardwells

Saturday, February 27, 2021

renwardwells

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

Davis Says Country Is Worst in the Region. Johnson Tells Him Not to Celebrate on First Day Back

In his return to the House of Assembly since recovering from COVID-19, Opposition Leader Philip Davis condemned the recovery rate of the Bahamas, in its COVID-19 fight. He emphasized that the Bahamas is the “worst in the Caribbean region.”

“Don’t compare yourself to around the world. Because in so far, around the world, we are in last place as to how we are dealing with it (COVID-19). We are in last place. We are the worst off in the region in handling the COVID,” Davis said.

Davis was referring to the Global COVID-19 Index Dashboard, which ranks the Bahamas as 183 out of 184 countries. The dashboard indicates how well countries are coping with the virus.

The dashboard also list Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis as other Caribbean countries similar to the Bahamas in handling the virus.

Renward Wells and Elsworth Johnson beckon Davis to prove COVID claims

Wells stood up to refute Davis’ claims. He said if Davis looks at other statistics, the Bahamas is doing well. Wells said there is a 2.3% fatality rate for the virus.

This is the top tier of the 1% globally, indicating that the Bahamas is capable of dealing with Covid-19 patients.

Minister of State for Finance Elsworth Johnson added that Davis should come with solutions, insteading of “coming back the first day to say the country is the worst” which is “almost like a celebratory dance, when people are losing their lives,” Johnson said.

Why does it matter?

Health officials confirmed that the virus is rising in the country with 119 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 4,022.

  • 103 in New Providence
  • 9 in Abaco
  • 4 in Grand Bahama
  • 2 in Exuma
  • 1 in Andros

Former Health Minister Duane Sands said the Bahamas is “not winning this battle” against the virus, as not enough testing is being done.

He said the country has a case incidence rate per million, which is twice the average of all countries in the world — 8,797 per million as compared to an average of 4,075 per million.

And, the 38th highest instance of deaths of COVID-19 in the world per capita.

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.