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PM pledges to join COVID-19 frontline if needed

EyeWitness News Breaking News April 13, 2020April 13, 2020 at 6:58 pm Royston Jones Jr.

  • Food Security task force to be established

  • Rental Assistance program still under review

  • Shopping schedule discontinued for the week

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said he is prepared to join healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle if necessary, as he called on private health practitioners to partner with the government. “Help us in this fight against COVID-19. We all took a solemn oath to save and to protect human lives,” Minnis said during a national address. “During this hour of great need, I urge more of my former colleagues to join in this fight. “You would all remember when the AIDS epidemic hit our shores. Many were afraid to touch or be near individuals who were diagnosed with AIDS. He continued: “We in the health profession, recognizing our oath, we were not afraid. We cared for the patients, but we took the necessary precautions. We protected ourselves and and at the same time, managed our patients. “I was with you then and if necessary, if I am needed, I will be with you again. After all, like you, I took the hippocratic oath.” Minnis said the government continues to work with the private sector and civil society as he underscored progress has been made in the “battle” against the virus. The five-day lockdown implemented Wednesday at 9 pm will come to an end tomorrow at 6 am. Minnis thanked the Bahamian people for their patience and collective determination He said the government has a full comprehensive and vigorous response to the pandemic. “We are making progress,” Minnis said. “We must remain vigilant. “Now is not the time to let down our guard down. “There will be no complacency on the part of your government. “Will must remain on full alert. “As a medical doctor, I know full well that patients recover best after they have gone through their full course of antibiotic medication, therapy and rest. “We will not recover properly unless we are disciplined…” Two additional cases of COVID-19 were confirmed earlier today in New Providence, bringing the total figure to 49 — 40 in New Providence, seven in Grand Bahama and two in Bimini. Eight COVID-19 patients died. Minnis said these patients were older in age and had co-morbidities. He said several of the patients were intubated and were provided critical care. Testing Minnis said the Ministry of Health plans to expand testing this week, which is expected to increase the positive cases found. According to the prime minister, health officials have prioritized individuals with moderate to severe signs of the virus, but as testing expands, more people will be diagnosed, including those with mild symptoms. He said the exercise will help to present a broader picture of where The Bahamas is in the surge, adding that the data should also reflect a lowered case mortality rate. Additionally, the prime minister announced the South Beach Clinic has been prepared as a COVID-19 facility as of Sunday, according to Minnis, who said the facility can provide care to an additional 10 patients. Shopping The prime minister announced the alphabetical shopping schedule will be discontinued as of Tuesday, but will be reinstated as of next week Monday, as the government seeks to improve the shopping schedule, and balance the need to limit community spread. Complete lockdowns will take place each weekend for the remainder of April, beginning on Friday at 9 pm until Monday at 6 am. Shopping between 6am and 8am on weekdays will be reserved for seniors and persons with disabilities, Minnis announced. He also announced food stores will be permitted to open on Saturday between 6 am to 6 pm for essential workers only. Health professionals, the police force, defense force, workers of clearing banks, and wholesale distributers will be allowed to shop between 6 am and noon. Remaining essential workers, including personnel of core utilities, electricity and communications, the media, security companies, corrections staff, customs, immigration, social services, waste disposal and sanitation, as well as fire services may shop between noon and 6 pm. Pharmacies will also be able to open until 3 pm on Saturdays for essential workers. Additionally, wholesale food stores will be allowed to open during the lockdown to allow for restocking. Food stores will be required to have hand sanitizers available for all individuals entering their premises The prime minister said he was assured last Saturday, during a teleconference with the major food stores outlets that there is sufficient supplies and more than enough food for everyone. He said there was no need for “panicked buying”. “There is no perfect system in times like these,” the prime minister noted. “But let us all work together to design the best system possible.”

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