April 29, 2021
FORMER Health Minister Dr Duane Sands sent a strong message to young people yesterday, calling their disregard for COVID-19 rules and feeling of invincibility towards the virus "just plain dumb".
He said younger people are falling ill and being admitted to hospital with the disease, while stressing that COVID-19 health facilities in New Providence are approaching capacity.
Dr Sands spoke to journalists outside of the House of Assembly on Wednesday just after Speaker Halson Moultrie chided the government for ignoring requests to quarantine the House’s staff, who were exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
Speaker Moultrie subsequently adjourned Parliament.
Dr Sands warned young people that they are not invincible as far as COVID-19 is concerned. There have been numerous videos and photographs making rounds on social media lately, showing young people at parties and other large gatherings practising no social distancing and not wearing masks.
“No disrespect but it is just plain dumb,” the former health minister said. “If you believe that you are going to survive because you are young, understand that with the new variants out there young people are being struck down with COVID. People in their 30s in The Bahamas are now being hospitalised with COVID … seriously ill from COVID.
“So this is not just the disease of older people or people with comorbidities. As we determine the phylogenetic status of the COVID virus that is in The Bahamas, we might come to find out that we have some aggressive strains. But why wait until then? A word to the wise is sufficient.”
He said The Bahamas is in a very serious situation in terms of the recent spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“I think we are in a very difficult place. I’ve been saying this now for several weeks,” he said. “The number of cases in The Bahamas has exploded and if you look at the caseload for April compared to the caseload for March, The Bahamas is not in a good place.
“In addition to an increase in the number of cases, we’ve had increased deaths and hospitalisations. So much so now that in Nassau all of the COVID facilities are approaching the full capacity. There are serious concerns and there are a number of people with COVID symptoms that are still not being tested.”
He said the country in its fight against COVID has a serious issue with enforcing the protocols.
“I think what we have is an issue of adherence and enforcement,” he said. “And, perhaps as written they would suffice, provided we adhere to them, and I say ‘we’ or if ‘we’ enforce them. We are all in this together and it is more than just writing a set of rules down and gazetting them. It is each of us living them daily.
“Each of us reminding somebody else who happens to be breaching the COVID restrictions that, ‘hey you are a danger, not just to yourself but to me and to my family and I would wish that you stop doing it.’ Vaccination is a critical part of the fight that beats COVID, but so is prevention. So the public health measures … social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitisation, avoiding large crowds and treatment.”
Asked his thoughts about what occurred earlier in the House of Assembly with Speaker Moultrie exercising his authority to adjourn Parliament, Dr Sands did not get into the details of it, but instead explained the speaker’s role.
“I think we are looking at the expressions of autonomy of co-equal branches of government,” he said. “We have a legislative, we have an executive and we have a judiciary and the Speaker of the House is an autonomous constitutional entity and he expressed that constitutional authority and I have nothing else to say about that.”
He noted that Bahamians only need to look at the tragedy of India to see what can happen in an instant if they do not follow the Ministry of Health’s protocols designed to ward off the virus. Despite recently declaring victory over the virus, India is now experiencing a surge in cases that is threatening to overwhelm its healthcare system.
“We’ve stopped doing this and I think Bahamians believe that because we have soldiered on for so long that this thing is just going to go away,” the Elizabeth MP said.
“It’s not going to go away. We only need to look at India and see the collapse of (the) healthcare system and the absolute carnage in terms of people that are dying because they don’t have oxygen, because they don’t have treatment, etcetera.
“Bahamas, this thing can change quickly on a dime. We’ve seen it all over the world where today you’re doing okay and tomorrow you are in trouble. So I stand in solidarity with public health people. I stand in solidarity with the doctors and nurses and respiratory technicians, the staff of the Ministry of Health, the minister of health and the competent authority. We all need to be in this together and if we stay together maybe we are going to survive this.”
Dr Sands said even if someone has not been vaccinated as yet, they can protect themselves by wearing their mask, by washing their hands and by avoiding people that they don’t know outside of their circle.
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News date : 04/29/2021
Category : Covid-19, Politics, Tribune Stories