Hon. Renward Wells, Minister of Health - COVID-19 Update

The Hon. Renward Wells
Minister of Health
COVID-19 Update Press Conference
The Ministry of Health
Friday, 24 July, 2020

Good afternoon,

 
On my appointment as Minister of Health, the Prime Minister set improving our healthcare infrastructure as one of my main mandates.

Throughout this crisis, the Ministry of Health has worked to make improvements across our archipelago with the keen awareness that COVID-19 could emerge on any of our islands.

 
During the pandemic’s first wave we were fortunate that there was limited spread across the country. Cases were limited to New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, and Cat Cay.
 

In this second wave cases have emerged related to people from other islands.
I must send this clear message to the people of all islands of The Bahamas, including our Family Islands that were not affected during the first wave.

 
This virus is very infectious. It could emerge on any of our inhabited islands or cays.

It is critically important for our Family Island residents to keep disciplined.

As there was transit between islands and international visitors since our opening up, cases can emerge in places spared during the past few months.

The wise guidance of our health team, the policies of the Government, and the Bahamian people and residents following that guidance are what brought us through the first wave.
 

To Bahamians and residents on New Providence, Grand Bahama and our entire family of islands please adhere to the advice:

 
Keep physically distant. When out on necessary trips, remain at least six feet from others.
 
Stay at home when you do not have to be out.
 
Wear your masks when out. Be sure the mask covers your nose and mouth at all times.
 
Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Do not put your hands in your eyes, nose, or mouth.
 
If you feel sick, call ahead to your healthcare provider advising them of your symptoms before you go in.

On New Providence, all of the primary healthcare facilities, inclusive of Elizabeth Estates, Flamingo Gardens, Fleming Street, Blue Hill Road, Adolescent Health Center, Ann’s Town, Fox Hill, Gambier, and Adelaide Clinics, have identified a space for the temporary isolation of patients suspected of COVID-19.
Once the assessments are completed the patient would be referred to the South Beach Health Center, the Princess Margaret Hospital, or Doctors Hospital West if necessary.

 
In the various islands and cays of the Family Islands, our health team has in some instances identified facilities for isolation and quarantine.
 
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In some locations, we are working to expand and improve facilities for the isolation and quarantine of cases as is necessary to meet the needs of the related community.

 

Infrastructure work is needed at various sites. I have taken on the task of ensuring that whatever works are needed will be expedited in the shortest possible time.
As our Chief Medical Officer and her team lead the medical response to this crisis, while working with them on those matters,I am leading an aggressive campaign to ensure all healthcare upgrades and infrastructure projects move forward immediately.
 

Whatever decisions need to be made will be made.
 
Money was allocated in the budget for works to be done. We will get those projects going to ensure the infrastructural needs of the Bahamian healthcare system are met in the shortest possible time.
 
The work to strengthen the national healthcare infrastructure, and especially that of the Family Islands, is of paramount concern to me.

As the new Minister, I want to say how impressed I am at the talent of this health team.

 
The Bahamas has a well-educated and dedicated group of men and women at this Ministry and its related healthcare facilities, agencies, and departments who work tirelessly day and night to protect public health and care for the sick.
 
As these dedicated people work to keep us safe, we must work to keep them safe.

If we slacken up and more virus spreads, more cases expose them to sickness in our healthcare facilities.

 
We do not want this to happen. More illness among the healthcare team would put an exceptional strain on our system.
 
And as we have seen from countries around the world, when healthcare systems are overwhelmed unfortunately deaths increase.
 
COVID-19 has interrupted the normal way of life worldwide. There have been more than 630,000 deaths around the globe, and 15 and a half million infections.

We will not return to a more normal way of life until there is a vaccine – and it is unclear when one will emerge.

 
Countries are facing the same challenge of responding to upsurges in cases after opening up to allow commercial activity.
 
We must be disciplined during this and any future periods of virus resurgence.

Our success during the first wave resulted from you following the good advice of our public health team.
 

Recommit to following that advice in its fullness. Encourage your family and friends to do the same.
 

The more disciplined we are, the faster we will end this second wave.
I now introduce to you the Most Honorable Prime Minister who will update you further.