Officials braced for the fourth wave, but what in regards to the public?
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — With the variety of every day COVID-19 cases making the all too familiar climb from single to double digits, the country appears to be strapped in for a fourth wave just as forecasted by health officials earlier this 12 months. The Progress Liberal Party campaigned on the removal of key COVID-19 measures like lockdowns and curfews that had a deleterious impact to the nation’s economy and psyche, but proved effective in directly managing spread.
So it stays to be seen how the Davis administration will signal a marked shift within the established order to combat the fourth wave and the highly transmissible Omicron variant undoubtedly on our doorstep.
COVID-19 cases world wide are surging, very like our tourism arrivals, with Omicron featuring an unprecedented rate of transmission while not much is conclusive on its severity and impact on deaths just yet.
Our neighbor’s leader, US president Joe Biden, has promised Americans there might be no lockdowns this holiday season as an alternative their response focuses on increasing vaccinations, expanding free testing, and military support for hospitals.
While scientists lament the response is just not significant to stem the tide, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lowered The Bahamas’ COVID-19 Travel Risk Advisory Rating from Level 3 to Level 2.
The drop in risk has come as airports world wide report heavier traffic as more people seek to reconnect during this holiday season.
Just this weekend, the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) recorded the arrival of some 6,000 passengers to the capital through the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).
Yesterday, Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Chester Cooper warned the country shouldn’t be “lulled to sleep” by the move.
“Now that we’re at Level 2, it doesn’t mean we’re completely out of the woods.
“The truth for straight away, at this point, this is nice for business. There’s a whole lot of pent-up demand. Out numbers are exceeding what they were at pre-pandemic levels.
“We are actually anticipating that we’re going to get the large groups, the conventions, and company business.
“This can be a win-win for our economy, a win-win for tourism and it’s great for the Bahamian people.”
But our pandemic experience has proven that a win for tourism is just not a complete win for the country.
Following the reopening of the country’s borders to international travel on July 1, 2020, just over 23,000 visitors were recorded for that month.
Cases exploded by 250 percent only one month after the total re-opening of the country, and on the time, then-Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis blamed the rapid spread on the failure of many individuals in The Bahamas to stick to the health measures.
Because the country stares down the board at one more wave of cases that threatens to disrupt the delicate shoots of economic revival garnered from the country’s reopening and removal of
For a lot of, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a seemingly infinite loop of deadly surges and short-lived successes at flattening the curve.
The unknown pneumonia cases that might later be identified as a novel coronavirus, were first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Nonetheless, it could not be until March 2020 that The Bahamas would join the worldwide tally that has bloomed to 276 million cases worldwide.
In under two years, the country has battled three consecutive waves with the last representing the deadliest to this point. The country flattened the curve of the second wave in February reducing cases to single and low double digits but by the top of March, officials were already marking the signs of a 3rd wave.
Health officials speculated as early as June that the delta variant could already be within the country however the variant wouldn’t be confirmed because the dominant strain until nearly three months later in September.
We do not need three months to attend before we confirm Omicron and mount an efficient strategy. In truth, now we have lower than three weeks as we try and get public schools back to a blended learning environment and start to shut the educational chasm that exists on this country.
Yesterday, Health minister Dr Michael Darville once more hinted that increased measures are actively being considered.
The minister has the facility to reintroduce restrictions comparable to curfews and lockdowns with the enactment of the Health Services (COVID-19)(General) Rules, 2021; but any return to curtailing liberties should be premised by clear and consistent public education.
The general public state of emergency fell away on November 13 together with the present curfew. Although the new health rules largely provide for similar measures and a wide selection of health protocols, the highly visible promulgation of public events is sending mixed messages.
The federal government must sensitize Bahamians in a consistent and effective matter to the COVID-19 status of the country, infection trends, and the flagging capability of the healthcare system.
Nurses are burnt out and briefly supply with Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams recently telling Eyewitness News between 50 and 100 additional nurses are needed in preparation for a possible surge.
At its most up-to-date peak, the country recorded greater than 3,000 cases and 63 deaths in a single month completely inundating the healthcare system and pushing frontline staff to their breaking point.
The usage of the University of the Bahamas’ Nursing School facility early next 12 months to deal with a short lived infectious disease unit is a comforting sign that the administration is making strides to bolster capability in preparation for a fourth wave.
Greater efforts should be made to interrupt through the general public’s COVID fatigue and foster cultural adherence to health protocols.