September 01, 2016
Dr. Perry Gomez, Minister of Health.
HEALTH officials are expected to update the nation on the latest confirmed Zika cases today.
Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez on Tuesday told The Tribune that the Ministry of Health was monitoring four new cases of the virus, pushing the nation’s total to eight.
The Tribune understands that officials will offer up some insight today into the new cases in an effort to quell public fears over the virus.
In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said his ministry intends to hold a major conference early next week for industry stakeholders.
Mr Wilchcombe said he was concerned over the current trajectory of the virus, and as a result, recognised a need for stakeholders to come together and ensure that they were doing all possible to guard devaluation of the country’s tourism product.
“We are obviously very concerned because the view is, the more you have these (travel) warnings and if it goes from country to country, warning about the Bahamas, then that can escalate and that could cause problems for us,” he said.
Mr Wilchcombe said his ministry is working very closely with health officials, sometimes receiving daily updates on the status of the virus.
“We are a part of a committee, Geneva Copper Lee is in our ministry and she is very much a part of what the Ministry of Health is doing and what the Ministry of Environment is doing.
“The new cases, we have been made aware of that. We are being made aware of the cases. The testing that is continuing, individuals who are reporting symptoms; we are aware of what is going on there and that is why we have arranged a conference for Monday with all the stakeholders to get the message out to (them) that we understand what we are dealing with. To understand the general environment that they are working in.
“And that is all the vendors, that is vendors on the dockside, vendors who are on the beach; we have to get the message out. Because what you don’t want is a situation developing where the stakeholders in tourism are unaware of the magnitude of the problem,” he added.
The Bahamas, similar to other territories and countries where the Zika virus has been reported, has experienced quick and sharp rise in the amount of cases in the weeks following initial confirmation.
Officials reported the first case of the virus on August 10, and then confirmed three more cases on August 23.
Subsequently on Tuesday, roughly a week later, officials confirmed four more cases.
Addressing this trend, Mr Wilchcombe said: “The Zika virus is one where we have seen growth very rapidly.
“So what we have to do is ensure that our country manages the situation, and that is by monitoring, that is by reporting the cases that exist, that is by ensuring that we have the fogging going on continuously and that is by ensuring the world community that every step is being made in the interest of their security and that of the people.” confirmed Zika cases today.
By Ricardo Wells, Tribune Staff Reporter