21 percent of COVID-19 patients are healthcare workers
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Health officials assured yesterday there is adequate resources to maintain care of patients, including those infected with the virus, despite more than 200 healthcare workers in quarantine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among those in quarantine were 96 physicians, 62 nurses, 12 rehabilitation and respiratory technicians, nine radiologists, eight laboratory workers, four emergency medical technicians, one facilities management worker; and one porter.
There have been 72 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas — 61 in New Providence, seven in Grand Bahama, three in Bimini and one in Cat Cay.
Of those infected, 15 are healthcare workers, according to officials.
A Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) worker and two registered nurses were quarantined this week after a patient tested positive for the virus in the Medical Surgical Ward II.
Asked about the ability to deliver care given the high number of healthcare workers out of the system, Sands said: “It has a real negative impact. There are certain services which have been decimated.
“If you listen to the comments made by Dr. Locksley [Munroe], a seasoned, experienced general surgeon, he speaks to the fact that his team has been reduced to two.
“There are other services where almost entire teams are wiped out because persons have been sent home.
“Now that said, not every person has had a high-risk exposure and the process that is ongoing through employee health is to use the World Health Organization risk stratification to determine who is high-risk, medium-risk and low-risk.
“We expect that when that assessment is done a number of persons will be able to safely return to work at the Princess Margaret Hospital and Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.
All potentially exposed healthcare workers are expected to be tested for the virus over the next few days.
As of yesterday, health officials said there were 792 people in quarantine.
Sands urged those individuals to follow the guidelines provided to them.
“To those who have received recommendations to quarantine or isolate, you are strongly advised to remain at home until the prescribed time has ended,” he said.
“Since you, as a quarantined or isolated contact, have been exposed, you have the potential to spread the virus… and infect others, and accelerate the spread of this disease in The Bahamas.
Asked whether the release of isolated people who have not shown symptoms of the virus after 14 days, but have not been tested, gives a false sense of security because of asymptomatic carriers, health consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister Dr Merceline Dahl Regis said this has been a “real concern”.
She said when there was a shortage of swabs needed to perform COVID testing, individuals released from quarantine continued to be monitored closely using the World Health Organization’s standards.
She said the government is in a better position with resources, and health officials will revertto testing all who have completed the quarantine period.
Anyone who has had close contact with a COVID-19 patient or who shares a room with; lives in the same household or a healthcare worker who had provided direct care without personal protective equipment is considered to be at high-risk, Sands said.
Someone who has travelled within close proximity of a COVID-19 patient or those in a social setting with a patient, without physical contact, are considered low to moderately at risk.
Individuals in isolation have been advised to have a close relative complete their shopping, and if that person lives outside of the home, he or she should leave items at the door without coming into contact with the person in isolation.
And where the dedicated relative lives in the same home as the person in isolation, he or she has been asked to leave food outside of the room, and not to enter.