Minister Rolle reports on Her Ministry’s first responses to COVID-19

NASSAU, The Bahamas – During her ‘Report to the Nation: Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,’ on November 27, 2020, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Lanisha T. Rolle noted that, in response to the rapidly-changing circumstances, governments the world over were forced to transform the manner in which the public service delivers enduring public value for the good of the general public.

 “Particularly, the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, being that arm of government in The Bahamas charged with delivering service to and on behalf of the youth, sports and cultural communities and industries -- is pleased to report that our COVID-19 Management Strategy has incorporated a five pronged approach of Unity, Re-ingenuity, Strength, Recommitment and Perseverance (URSRP),” Minister Rolle said, during the press conference held at the Office of the Prime Minister.

Minister Rolle said, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, in alignment with guidance of the Ministry of Health, her Ministry immediately established a COVID-19 Response Committee to lead the management of a COVID-19 strategic response.

“Together, with our functioning subsidiaries, the National Sports Authority, and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB), and at the behest of the Government, temporarily ceased physical operations at facilities,” she said.  “Staff assumed work-at-home arrangements for their safety and that of the general public.”

Further, Minister Rolle noted, the Ministry’s immediate reaction was to maintain a portal of electronic access for the benefit of the general public.  In that regard, she said, a virtual connection to the Ministry was created through the establishment of a host of electronic services.

“An Online Platform was launched, and a 24-hour Emergency Hotline was activated to ensure our partners and the general public maintained access to key personnel,” she added.

Minister Rolle pointed out that, operating under a trifurcated portfolio, her Ministry -- in immediate response to the pandemic -- transformed the mechanisms of its operations to an effective e-platform that allowed for the continued functioning of the Division of Youth, the Department of Sports and the Division of Cultural Affairs.

“The transformed operations have allowed Departments to maximize the use of technology to stay connected to our over one thousand partnering associations and organizations, provide ongoing services to the general public, and deliver quality programming and support systems effectively, efficiently, safely and in the spirit of excellence,” she said.    

Minister Rolle noted that her Ministry was among the first to respond to the onset of the Coronavirus here in The Bahamas, citing that, on March 12, 2020, the Ministry in partnership with local schools from across The Bahamas gathered in New Providence with over 500 children at the Thomas A. Robinson Stadium, in the midst of the Annual National High School Track and Field Championships.

“However, upon receiving the news that there was a strong likelihood that the deadly coronavirus had reached our shores, on the advice of the Cabinet of The Bahamas, to protect our little darlings we acted decisively by immediately stopping the meet, and ensuring the children were sheltered-in-place with the cooperation of their parents and guardians,” she said.

“To all of our misfortune, the following day, the presence of the coronavirus was no longer a rumour, it was a living, breathing deadly weapon that had touched down in the islands of The Bahamas,” she added.  “Indeed, the Ministry was relieved to have made the difficult decision on the guidance of the government, to act urgently to avoid preventable harm.”

Minister Rolle noted that, from that moment onward, the entire nation was subject to the immediate safety measures implemented by the established office of the Competent Authority, which instituted emergency lockdowns, curfews, sanitization and physical distancing protocols, in addition to other measures designed to protect the health of our people, and keep communities safe.   

She also pointed out that, in addition to accounting for the Ministry’s response to the Pandemic, her report that day also served to indicate the Ministry’s plan to safely and successfully move forward in and beyond a COVID-19 environment.  

“First and foremost, I wish to report ‘thankfully’ that the Ministry has not lost any member of staff to the deadly coronavirus disease,” Minister Rolle said.  “However, we experienced a total of three cases, all of whom have recovered.”

“Special thanks to the intervention and services provided by the personnel and practitioners of the Ministry of Health,” she added.  “Some staff members, however, did experience associated deaths among their family members; and for this misfortune, we extend our deepest sympathies.”