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COVID-19 cases expected to double by Easter weekend

“High” case fatality rate, a reflection of limited testing capacity


NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is expected to at least double by Easter weekend, according to former Chief Medical Officer Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis.

Dahl-Regis said the projection was based on The Bahamas’ current surge of COVID-19 cases, notwithstanding the nationwide lockdown.

During a live broadcasted press conference, Dahl-Regis said 90 cases are expected by Easter Sunday.

She warned the persistence of large crowds, despite social distancing orders, will continue to peak cases in the country. A five-day complete lockdown will begin today at 8 pm until Tuesday at 6am.

Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands also cautioned the public that the country was nowhere near flattening the curve of the ongoing surge.

The Bahamas’ case fatality rate (CFR) is well over 17 percent, more than quadruple the global projected rate of four percent.

National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Director Dr Nikkiah Forbes explained the high CFR is a reflection of the government’s ability to perform widespread testing.

There were four new cases confirmed today, among them a 51-year-old woman from Grand Bahama.

The woman died on Monday, and tested positively for the virus after her death.

“Definitely, the mortality rate you are seeing is a reflection of our ability to do widespread testing,” Forbes said.

“We are somewhat limited as this time and we are working on building our testing capacity.

“Additionally, those cases that did pass on — God rest their souls — they were older in age and they had another medical comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension; obesity and lung problems like asthma.

“I have no doubt that as we increase our capacity to do testing, we will see that mortality rate balance out, but this is a reflection of a section of the population that we have been able to test — those with moderate and severe manifestations.”

A total of 393 people had been tested as of Wednesday.

To date, there have been 40 confirmed cases of the virus.

Seven people have died, with their ages ranging from 51 to 90.

Health minister Dr Duane Sands said while officials could not categorically attribute high death rate to age and underlying health issues explains the high mortality rate, it is definitely a factor.

The minister said when officials are able to ramp up testing, more testing will be done.

According to Sands, the categories of people with the highest risk of contracting the virus include the elderly and those with underlying health issues, including cancer and other immune-compromised patients; those with chronic and non-communicable disease and pregnant women.

The minister said two in every five Bahamians have at least three non-communicable diseases, increasing their risk of death if infected with COVID-19.

“The means if one of us contract COVID-19, and he hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, that person could very likely die,” Sands said.

According to officials, 47 percent of the local population suffers from high blood pressure, while 26 percent have diabetes.

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