Increased COVID-19 Cases Reason for Emergency Powers Order Extension, says Minister of Health

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Minister of Health the Hon. Renward Wells addresses the House of Assembly, May 19, 2021. (BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

The Minister of Health the Hon. Renward Wells has confirmed that the country’s health care system is still in a state of emergency, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Therefore, it is imperative that we responsibly extend the Emergency Powers Order,” he said during his contribution to the debate on the Resolution to Extend the Emergency Powers Order in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

“It is without a doubt that we are currently facing the third wave of COVID-19 in The Bahamas; the National COVID-19 report bears proof of this fact. We continue to record new COVID-19 cases in the country,” Mr. Wells said. At this point in the third wave, he reported that the country is seeing COVID-19 infections in the very young and the adolescent population and they are being
hospitalized.

Notably, during the entire first and second waves, COVID-19 cases among those 0 to 9 years represented only one percent of the total cumulative cases for each respective wave, Mr. Wells said adding that those ages 0 to 9 years account for 106 or three percent of the third wave COVID-19 cases.

“Recognizing the phenomena of increasing cases among young and adolescents, the government has moved with urgency to secure doses of the Pfizer vaccine which is the only EUL-approved vaccine for administration to the under 18 years age group,” Mr. Wells announced.

He continued, “We have already articulated to this honorable house that new COVID-19 cases are increasing, hospitalizations are increasing and health worker fatigue is increasing. In addition to these, the Ministry reports that the positivity rate is also increasing. From the beginning of April, our positivity rate has reflected a steady increase and now stands at 15%. To put this in perspective, the international recommendation is that the positivity rate not exceed 5% which speaks to management and containment of COVID.”

According to the Minister, the likelihood that this phenomenon is as a result of a variant cannot be dismissed. “Screening of COVID-19 positive samples for mutations that characterize variants of concern at the NRL indicated the possibility of variants in the country. While we await confirmation the changing epi profile is in keeping with the presence of variants, and we are taking action,” he said.

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