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CPSA warns that relaxing lockdown could be risky

The Nassau Guardian April 21, 2020

Rayne Morgan

The Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) expressed concern yesterday over the relaxing of some of the nationwide lockdown measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We also plead with our government to carefully approach the lifting of the nationwide lockdown,” the CPSA said in a statement.

“We understand that our economy needs to be given a jump-start. We know that many are struggling with unemployment, and the mental stress this has placed on them and their families.

“However, if we reopen places too quickly and crowds of people gather, as circulated on social media, we risk many, many more persons being exposed to COVID-19.

“When patients suffer, our health care system suffers, and if our health care system suffers, even more patients will suffer greatly.”

The CPSA noted that it is experiencing staffing shortages due to health care workers being exposed to the virus and having to be taken out of the system.

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought tremendous changes to our way of life in The Bahamas,” the CPSA said.

“This impact has not been limited to our daily lives, but also the actual lives of our people. The Consultant Physicians Staff Association thus extends heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, including the family of our colleague, Dr. Judson Eneas.

“As doctors, we recognize that we are at much greater risk of getting the virus, not just because we care for patients, but because some of our members are high risk themselves. Nonetheless, we continue to serve our public because we know that they need help.

“We have had numerous doctors, nurses and other health care staff quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19, as recently as this past weekend.

“Whenever we are exposed, our entire families have to be quarantined with us. We are now having shortages in our staffing because of this.

“For those of us still working, each day we go back to our families and pray that we did not bring the virus home with us.”

On Sunday, The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) announced that following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case involving a patient on the Medical Surgical Ward II at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), no further admissions will be made to that ward until further notice.

The PHA said all remaining patients on the ward have been tested for COVID-19 and contract tracing of people who were previously discharged from the ward has started via the Ministry of Health’s Disease Surveillance Unit.

Additionally, it said PHA employee health services have commenced assessment for all employees who had direct contact with the patient.

The Bahamas has been in a state of public emergency since March 18, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

Under the Emergency Orders enacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses have been ordered closed and residents are required to remain at home unless “absolutely necessary”.

However, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Sunday announced that a number of businesses, including hardware stores, plant nurseries and auto part stores, will be allowed to operate as of yesterday and for the rest of the week.

He noted, however, that he was still “alarmed by the number of people out on the road during the 24-hour curfew this past week”.

The CPSA urged members of the public to comply with the Emergency Orders, warning that failing to do so could further impact the availability of health care professionals in the country.

“We need the help of the general public to fight the battle with COVID-19,” its statement read.

“If more persons get sick, more of us will be exposed, be quarantined and get sick and there will be less and less doctors, nurses and health care members available to help those of us that need medical attention.”

There are 64 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

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