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117 Tested for COVID-19

Ministry of Health COVID-19 Update by Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands - March 22 2020

Possible Surge of New Cases Worries Health Officials

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillian said 117 persons have been tested in The Bahamas for COVID-19.

However, only four tests came back positive for the coronavirus.

The testing for COVID-19 is conducted at the internationally accredited laboratory of the Ministry of Health’s National Reference Laboratory, which is certified to perform COVID-19 testing.

During a press conference yesterday on the status of COVID-19 in the country, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands noted that despite not having any new cases of the virus, health officials are concerned about a surge of new cases and are asking persons not to have a false sense of security.

“I believe that we are concerned about the possibility of a surge in the near future and so while we are gratified to see the number at only four, we do not believe that we should in any way restrict, restrain, our efforts to both mitigate this, but also to identify and to manage any patients,” Dr. Sands said.

As COVID-19 is a grave health issue, the Ministry of Health is continuing to conduct contact tracing with people who were in contact with those infected with the virus.

The Emergency Operation Center have been activated and testing capability has expanded, according to Dr. Sands.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat. The Ministry of Health has activated its Emergency Operation Centre as part of its strategy to mitigate the spread of this coronavirus and to save lives,” Dr. Sands said.

Additionally, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is providing assistance with additional test kits.  

“The ministry has expanded its testing capacity. There are 1,750 test kits on New Providence, and 10,000 rapid test kits have been ordered. Two thousand five hundred test kits are expected to be in New Providence by mid-week,” Dr. Sands said.

But as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world, many countries are reporting shortages in facilities, supplies and human capital.

“The Doctors Hospital facility on Blake Road, which will be used to treat ill COVID-19-positive patients, will come on stream tomorrow,” Dr. Sands said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has ordered some addition 15 to 18 ventilators.  

Dr. Sands also believes there is an excellent match between the anticipated clinical challenges and the existing medical staff, even if the ministry has to supplement the medical staff.

COVID-19, without a doubt, will put a dent in the government’s purse and according to Dr. Sands, the Ministry of Health’s budget is about $4.5 million. 

He also revealed that with each passing day, there are changes, and at this time there is no accurate account of how much money COVID-19 will cost the government.

However, the minister of health wants Bahamians to do their part to help reduce the spread of the virus, which include following the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Orders issued by the prime minister. Currently, there are four confirmed cases of COVID-19, seven people are in quarantine and 35 people have been released from quarantine.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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