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Sands says Bahamians should wear face masks

The Nassau Guardian March 31, 2020

Though it initially advised against it, the Ministry of Health is now recommending that people wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands confirmed today.

“We have moved from some of our strongly held views,” Dr. Sands said on Guardian Radio show, Morning Blend, with host Dwight Strachan on 96.9FM.

“For instance, even up to yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been saying that face masks are not being recommended. The Bahamas has softened its position a bit and said that look, while we are aware of the evidence, certainly what we have to do first is make sure that face masks are available for front line workers inclusive of healthcare workers, police officers, immigration officers, ambulance drivers, even people that interact with the public.

“And while homemade face masks do not provide the same level of protection, they probably provide some protection and they reduce the spread of this disease, which except in extenuating circumstances, is spread by droplets.

“So, we’re suggesting that people should consider wearing even a homemade mask, or if they have access to masks, that would be fine.”

There are 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. However, health officials said the evidence shows that there is community spread and there will likely be more confirmed cases in the coming days. Nearly 300 people are in quarantine, according to the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Sands said The Bahamas will receive more tests today.

“We will get another 10,000 serological tests in country, and the role of serological tests, meaning blood tests looking at antibodies versus nasal pharyngeal swab testing from the back of the nose or the back of the throat for molecular testing.”

He said The Bahamas has also made a request for rapid molecular tests. However, he noted that that is a commodity worldwide.

“Every lab and hospital in every country is trying to get them,” Dr. Sands added.

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