Bahamas Press 18th August, 2020
The Competent Authority has progressed from little notice to no notice with his most recent lockdown. This late-night lockdown is not only unconscionable but will bring a level of hardship to Bahamians unseen in this country’s history. This lockdown came despite the fact that Dr. Brennan said that the last one did not yield the expected results. This is not surprising because all of the medical evidence indicates that lockdowns without increased, proactive testing is futile. Bimini is an example of this failed approach.
Why lockdowns are ineffective without testing, tracing, and isolation of infected persons was also contained in the PM’s speech. In fact, he said it twice to make his point and this shows how ignorant he is. Specifically, he mentioned the rate of detection and percentage of contacts identified. Of course, the rate of detection is high because we do not test persons until they indicate the symptoms of Covid-19. The numbers traced is probably high because it is always easier to contact family members infected by a covid-19 carrier.
Recall I said in an earlier letter to the editor that lockdowns put possibly infected persons in long and close contact with other persons in the household. Community spread is always possible, but you must be in proximate contact with an infected persons (within 6 feet) for more than 10 minutes and be susceptible, like not wearing a face mask. Community spread can happen in theatres (closed); dances and house parties(illegal); or churches (closed). So actually, the most likely place to be infected is in jam packed food stores and long packed lines at NIB.
You are unlikely to contribute to virus spread locked in your car and driving about aimlessly. But by far the most dangerous aspect of the PM’s speech goes back to his much-touted success on tracking and tracing.
There is overwhelming medical evidence that an infected person becomes highly infectious within 2- 5 days of becoming infected and are asymptomatic until full-blown infection is apparent. If the current policy is that persons are not tested until they show symptoms, then they are spreading the virus a minimum of 10 days before isolation. Their contacts who may be infected have an additional 15 days to infect other persons; as the infection rate for coronavirus is 2.5 other persons per infected person, the spread is exponential and each and every contact must be traced to completion, isolated, or quarantined, as necessary.
Any delay in testing and acting on results plays an important part in controlling the spread of the virus because the earlier you disrupt transmission the less persons are infected. The government would be well advised to reconsider their current testing and contact tracing regimes if we are ever to get control of this monster.
The PM should also investigate whether police or the medical authorities made the decision to release the large numbers of persons allegedly taken into custody at a recent club raid. These miscreants should have all been tested before release as they possibly represented a cross-section of our community. The number of infections, if any, could then be used to inform the government’s testing and tracing policy
Michael J. Brown