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Virus now On GB

The Nassau Guardian March 25, 2020

Rachel Knowles

A fifth case of COVID-19 in The Bahamas was confirmed on Grand Bahama, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.

The case is the first to be confirmed outside of New Providence.

Sands said the patient had no recent travel history and no links to the other people who previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Health officials, who identified the patient as a woman, said she had mild respiratory symptoms.

While Sands said aggressive contact tracing was underway, officials could not say how many contacts of the patient had been identified.

This fifth case of COVID-19 came just over a week after the first case was discovered on New Providence. Sands said the 61-year-old Bahamian woman, who had been hospitalized since her positive test, was released from hospital yesterday.

“Health officials continue to follow the condition of the three other COVID-19-positive cases on New Providence, who remain in isolation at home and do not require hospitalization at this time,” he said.

“They are in stable condition.

“These three cases are contacts of the first case. The Ministry of Health has contacted the large majority of those who have been in contact with the initial case.”

Sands added, “At this time, close to 200 people have been tested in The Bahamas for COVID-19 following the agreed international protocols.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat and the ministry is working hard to mitigate the spread of this coronavirus and to save lives. More than 18,000 people have died from the virus worldwide.

“As I indicated on Sunday past, the ministry has expanded its testing capacity. There are 1,750 test kits on New Providence, and the first 300 of 10,000 rapid test kits have arrived.

“An additional 2,500 test kits are expected to be in New Providence by mid-week.”

Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson said the latest case is especially challenging as the island is still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Dorian.

“This virus can affect any of us, anywhere in The Bahamas,” he warned.

“Stay home. Practice social distancing.”

As cases of COVID-19 swell around the world, Sands encouraged residents to comply with the 24-hour curfew and other orders imposed by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

“As a surgeon and minister of health, I advise you to follow the regulations and to stay at home and away from others as much as is possible,” Sands said.

“Do not invite friends and family over. Do not have parties. Isolate yourselves in your homes and on your properties with your family.

“How the next few weeks play out depend on how well you follow the public health advice we give, and the regulations imposed.

“If we as a people listen, that would lessen the impact on our country.

“If you do not listen, the virus will spread and there will be many deaths.”

He said the richest and most advanced countries in the world are overwhelmed by this pandemic.

The prime minister also ordered the closure of airports, docks, ports and beaches throughout the country, with certain exceptions. He said these unprecedented measures were imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The order went into effect at 9 a.m. yesterday and expires at 9 a.m. on March 31.

“This is about protecting people and minimizing the likelihood that we will get uncontrolled community transmission,” Sands said, referring to the emergency orders.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday that health officials expect there will be a surge in cases.

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