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OMICRON IS HERE: Health minister says protocols under review as variant continues to surge

Greater than 160 health care staff in quarantine

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville yesterday said officials are reviewing protocols on gathering as local testing has confirmed the presence of the highly contagious omicron variant in country.

“What we’re concerned about, like every country on the planet once we begin to see signs of exponential growth or spread, we now have to take a look at the protocols because it pertains to people coming close proximity to one another and make some adjustments,” Darville said to reporters outside Cabinet.

“We intend to accomplish that but we’re watching the numbers but that 800 plus number I believe that was on Friday that’s of great concern to us.”

The Bahamas recorded 818 cases on Friday — a record single-day variety of infections for the reason that onset of the pandemic.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness reported 521 cases for Monday with hospitalized cases climbing to 118.

There have been 164 confirmed imported cases from travel: 152 in New Windfall; five in Abaco; five in Exuma; three in Eleuthera; and two in Grand Bahama.

Last week, the federal government suspended plans to introduce a compulsory RT-PCR testing requirement for vaccinated travelers. The protocol was expected to take effect on Friday, January 7.

Yesterday, Darville said: “We’re very concerned with the numbers, as a matter of fact our team on the Ministry of Health are reviewing among the protocols. The Bahamian people can rest assured that the circumstances on the hospital, we’re definitely working diligently to make sure patients who do are available in whether it’s for COVID or for other reasons are capable of get services.

During a national address on Sunday, Prime Minister Philip Davis said every Bahamian and resident in The Bahamas is more likely to be exposed to the omicron coronavirus variant multiple times in the approaching weeks.

He underscored the variant was so transmissible that each Bahamian must consider how prepared their body was to fight the virus.  Davis maintained that getting vaccinated, and boosted, provided a superb opportunity of reducing the severity of the infection.

Yesterday, Darville said officials were still awaiting final confirmation of omicron from a lab in Panama.

Darville said: “We’re still testing and sending samples abroad to be sure that that what we’re seeing is totally correct and we now have been confirming that nearly all of cases in The Bahamas is the omicron variant. Through the reference lab, they do some preliminary testings they usually are confident that it’s here while we await the ultimate confirmation from Panama.”

Darville added: “This isn’t confirmed by lab from abroad but local sequencing here on the island at our reference lab is unquestionably pointing in that direction. They’re confident that the omicron variant is within the country.”

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