DAVIS: Minnis Government must act to avoid New COVID outbreaks and more risky lockdowns

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2006

New cases on the rise on Grand Bahama and Abaco….

Opposition Leader Hon. Philip Brave Davis Q.C.

By Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Q.C., MP / Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party

The Bahamas Should Act Now to Avoid New COVID Outbreaks and More Lockdowns Government Should Not Repeat Earlier Mistakes.

We’ve lost count of how many times the Competent Authority has congratulated himself for his handling of COVID-19, but all of his self-satisfied boasting can’t obscure the truth, which is that many nations in our region have out-performed The Bahamas, in both cases and deaths per capita. (See attached charts).

It’s not only that health outcomes have been better in neighboring countries; the steps the Competent Authority took to achieve these inferior results did so much damage along the way to our economy.

For months following the July re-opening, lockdowns crushed many of our small businesses. While resorts were opening across the Caribbean, The Bahamas was essentially closed, and visitors were warned to stay away. This government has mismanaged the crisis and the economy is in worse shape as a result.

Everyone has pandemic fatigue, but the battle with COVID-19 is unfortunately not over. New, more transmissible strains of COVID are now circulating; Florida is leading the United States with the largest number of identified cases of the UK variant. We urge the government to learn from earlier mistakes and move from a reactive to a proactive stance, adopting measures now to avoid new outbreaks and lockdowns, including:

  1. Free testing. The PLP continues to call for free COVID testing for Bahamians. The cost of testing is a real burden to the many thousands of Bahamians are out of work; indeed, for many it is an impossibility. Testing is one of the most important tools we have in a pandemic; we should be knocking down obstacles to access. Any Bahamian concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19 should have access to free testing. The current testing requirement for domestic travel between islands is keeping families apart and hurting the economy.
  2. Better masks. Medical-grade masks should be made available to all workers who interact with large numbers of people, including police and defence force officers, teachers, and
    other essential workers. Filtration and fit are key. A public education campaign should emphasize the benefits of double masking for many Bahamians.
  3. Strengthen isolation protocols in clinics and hospitals. It’s crucial that COVID-positive cases are isolated from other patients and that Bahamians feel they can trust these protocols so that they don’t avoid necessary medical treatment.
  4. To earn public cooperation for necessary public health measures at a time of widespread pandemic fatigue, all restrictions must reflect actual science. The Competent Authority should bring forward what he believes is the scientific justification for the ongoing curfew in New Providence, and if he cannot, he should end it. Perhaps there is no health-related justification – after all, did he not recently brag about being out and about at 4:30am?
  5. Good ventilation and indoor air quality are essential to reducing airborne exposure to COVID.

The government should launch a public education campaign and provide detailed guidance for schools, businesses, churches, and homes.
The government is making a mistake by relying so heavily on vaccines and lockdowns. We urge them to use a broader set of tools.

We have seen and felt the costs of their previous failures to plan ahead. We should take action now to avoid a third wave and more restrictions and lockdowns.

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