PM: Take COVID-19 Seriously

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By Ashley Penn-Nixon

The Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced Monday that as of Wednesday, April 8, starting at 9:00 pm, through 5:00 am on Tuesday, April 14, a complete lockdown will be implemented in the war on COVID-19.

The announcement was made during the prime minister’s remarks in the House of Assembly, following the lift of a nationwide lockdown that lasted through the weekend.

“I wish to remind this House and the Bahamian People that the total lockdown we just experienced was done on the advice of public health officials in order to prevent and to slow the spread of the virus during the surge we are in,” Minnis said.

The nation’s chief said the decision to initiate the stringent measure was to combat the transmission of the deadly virus.

“The best medicine to stop this virus is physical distancing. We must stay apart as much as possible to prevent the spread of this coronavirus and more deaths. That is why I began the curfew and lockdown measures. They are essential to save lives,” Minnis said.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged Bahamians Monday while in the House of Assembly to take the spread of the novel coronavirus seriously.

“This pandemic has killed more than 70,000 people around the world.  It has killed young and old.  Rich and poor. No one is exempt, no one has been found to be immune from this deadly virus.  Sadly, Bahamians have also died. As prime minister and as a medical doctor, it is my duty to do what is necessary to protect our people. My mind is clear. I am focused on what must be done,” he assured.

Aware of the shortfall in health-related resources The Bahamas faces as opposed to larger countries, Minnis said prevention is key to fight COVID-19.

“I assure the country that our best minds in public health are working hard behind the scenes to keep Bahamians and residents safe. The Bahamas does not have the resources of larger countries.   We do not have their production capacity to create drugs and equipment to fight the virus” he said.

“In The Bahamas we must put our focus and our efforts on prevention. That is why we instituted the curfews, shutdowns and lockdowns.  But for this to work, all of us must do our part.  We need our citizens and residents and visitors to comply and to follow the rules,” Minnis continued.

The prime minister said that due to persons maintaining a nonchalant attitude regarding the severity of the virus, more stringent measures had to be enacted. 

“Sadly, what we noticed was that some people were not listening or taking this deadly virus seriously.  We, therefore, had to strengthen the measures because we are in a surge and there is community spread”, he said.

While the country is facing the surge phase during the global pandemic, the prime minister said obedience to the laws during the upcoming lockdown will determine the number of deaths that will occur.

“Compliance will help to determine how many deaths there are.  We all have it in our hands to save lives. If we follow the rules and listen, if we stay at home, fewer people will die and will get sick. If we are slack, if we do not listen, if some sneak out and break the rules, more people may die.”

Prime Minister Minnis also revealed the government’s efforts to increase the availability of masks for the general public.

The undertaking to ensure that the general public remains protected has enabled the production of cotton masks in New Providence through various companies.

“These masks will be washable and re-usable by the ordinary resident. To encourage and enable the large-scale production of cotton masks in the Family Islands, the Small Business Development Centre has been directed to provide funding to tailors and seamstresses so that sufficient masks are also available throughout the Family Islands,” he said.

He pointed out that the mass production of the cotton masks will assist in the ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

However, Minnis said the sale of any medical masks to the general public will at some time be prohibited.

The Bahamas was said to be among the first countries to take the series of measures that were mandated under the Emergency Powers Orders as the race to preserve lives was paramount.  

“Our main concern and our top priority remains the health, the safety and the well-being of the citizens and residents of every island, cay, community and settlement in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  This is my gravest responsibility as prime minister and as a medical doctor,” Minnis said.

COVID-19 is said to pose many uncertainties and difficult choices for government officials, however, Minnis said, “As a country and as a people, we have the choice whether to go forward or to go back to old habits that do not serve us well.”

The prime minister also assured that a number of measures to jump-start the economy will be announced in the coming days.

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