Resurgence of Covid-19 Brings New Responsibilities

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PM New COVID-19 Responsibilities

By Abria Cooper

Prime Minister of the Bahamas, the Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a new Enforcement Unit will coordinate activities to educate and ensure that all Bahamians, residents and visitors are adhering to the enforcement protocols of the Emergency Powers Orders to keep our communities safe.

He revealed this during his most recent National Address here he provided updates on the various individuals and organizations who have and or will play a vital role in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The PM informed that The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) will continue to be responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the COVID19 Emergency Orders.

According to PM Minnis the RBPF is making final preparation for the COVID 19 Command Centre at the Cable Beach Police Station, from which all HubbCat Monitors, Dispatchers and COVID-19 Ambassadors will be controlled.

In mid-May 2020 it was reported that the government signed a contract for a program that will facilitate the electronic monitoring of quarantined individuals.

The program was expected to help curb breaches of the quarantine protocols, which health officials have expressed, could lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The 24-hour monitoring service for all quarantined and isolated individuals is a web and mobile application that is simple and easy to use. 

It provides geo-fencing capabilities, which pre-programs virtual boundaries around the property of those in quarantine and isolation.

The information collected from these people will remain anonymous.

In late May 2020 official reports stated that the government had begun monitoring individuals in quarantine today through the use of Hubbcat, a geographical fencing and security application established in late 2019.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen confirmed that the rollout out of the program was smooth so far; however, he was unable to say how many people are being monitored.

Across the islands of The Bahamas, the Unit will have 177 COVID-19 Ambassadors; 23 HubbCat Monitors; and 21 vehicles dedicated to this specific enforcement purposes.

The Enforcement Unit will also; monitor individuals in quarantine; Ensure that the general public is adhering to the COVID19 Orders; Ensure that business establishments are adhering to the COVID-19 Orders; and Monitor beaches and parks.

“We will be doing everything possible to ensure that the health protocols and Emergency Orders are enforced, to limit the spread of the virus and to avoid further restrictive control measures,” he said.

The PM acknowledged that they do not know the long-term effects of this virus. He also advised people not listen to people who tell you it is like a mild flu and that you will be fine. There may be serious long-term effects to people of all ages, effects that diminish quality of life, and possibly shorten life.

“I want to thank the Bahamian people for following the public health advice. I want to thank Bahamian businesses for enforcing the commonsense health measures. We must wear our masks when we are out in public. We must wear them properly,” he said.

Your mask should cover your nose and mouth.

“I wish to remind you that it is mandatory to wear a mask or proper face covering in public. It is not good enough to just have it over your mouth with your nose exposed. Physical distancing is a key weapon in limiting the spread of this deadly virus. So, we strongly recommend that you stay physically distant. When you are out, maintain your distance,” he said.

When you do not have to be out, stay at home. And, of course, wash or sanitize your hands regularly. Keep them out of your eyes, nose and mouth. National solidarity is critical in this crisis.

“I wish to remind you that it is mandatory to wear a mask or proper face covering in public. It is not good enough to just have it over your mouth with your nose exposed. Physical distancing is a key weapon in limiting the spread of this deadly virus. So, we strongly recommend that you stay physically distant. When you are out, maintain your distance,” he said.

“We must keep working together, standing together, supporting each other in every way we can,” he said.

The PM Urged members of the public to listen to the advice of the medical professionals ignore the nonsense some people are circulating on social media and elsewhere designed to confuse you and to cause strife.

“Our primary focus in these extraordinary times must stay on saving lives and limiting spread of the virus. The better we are at this, the more our economy could open up and people could make a living.

He also announced that Hon. Renward Wells would be sworn in this past Monday, July 20th, 2020 as the new Minister of Health.

“Renward Wells is a doer, who knows how to get things done. During my recent tenure as Minister of Health, I consolidated and brought forward a health care infrastructure detailed during the recent debate on the 2020/2021 National Budget,” he said.

This includes upgrades to the Princess Margaret Hospital, clinics throughout the country and planning for a new Rand Memorial Hospital. While the medical officials continue to lead the charge in the battle against COVID-19, I have instructed Minister Wells to move aggressively to upgrade our health care infrastructure.

He is also charged with working with public health officials on boosting immunizations and vaccinations for various childhood diseases, some of which have lagged during the COVID-19 pandemic. He will also work with public health officials to improve our readiness for a variety of public health threats including potential pandemics.

Minnis accepted the resignation of former Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands on Monday, May 4th, 2020.

Sands reportedly offered his resignation to Dr. Minnis for his actions related to six permanent residents who landed in the country last week with COVID-19 testing supplies and were allowed to quarantine at home before they produced a negative COVID-19 test result.

The PM also announced that the Labour Minister the Hon. Dion Foulkes will assume additional responsibility for the Ministry of Transport and Local Government as the new Minister. Minister Foulkes has extensive cabinet experience.

“He has provided me with wise counsel on many matters,” he said.

He added that Mr. Travis Robinson will be reinstated as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, effective tomorrow Monday 20 July 2020.

PM Minnis also revealed that Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis will be stepping down as a special adviser and coordinator of the COVID-19 Task Force, effective Sunday July 19th, 2020. Dr. Dahl-Regis has trained the health team and is confident in their abilities.

“However, I wish to assure the Bahamian people that she will remain available for further consultation if needed.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, I thank Dr. Dahl-Regis for her outstanding service,” he said.

According to him Dr. Dahl-Regis has put in place strategies, policies and procedures as it relates to managing COVID-19 and is confident in the team that will be led by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillian.

He noted that this crisis is testing nations is testing our people. The countries that come out of this better will be the disciplined countries.

The people who come out of this better will be the disciplined people. Countries and peoples who do not follow sensible public health advice and policies will have more deaths, sickness and chaos.

“Bahamians are a resilient people. We have survived hurricanes. As I’ve said before we are forged in this spectacular chain of islands, the most dynamic tourism economy in the region. We will get through this. I believe we can continue to be a model nation in the world when it comes to our resolve and our response. But we must do this together,” he said.

The PM stated that we must remain united as a people during what is a marathon to save lives and to protect the country.

“Let us pray to the Almighty for endurance, for strength, for wisdom and for guidance,” he said.

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