Friday, March 27, 2020

#242NewsBahamas Newsletter Edition: March 26th 2020

#WeAreAllInThisTogther – whether we like it or NOT!

Dear Readers,

These are some interesting times, aren't they? Since December of 2019, the COVID-19 virus has been wreaking havoc across the globe. Thousands of persons have contracted the illness and recovered but thousands more have died as the virus has continued to spread to nearly all the countries of the world.

For the sake of time and space, we won't go into the specific timeline of how the disease erupted into a global pandemic. But if you're interested in that timeline, one can be found via @Cnn's website.
The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis
Prime Minister

My Fellow Bahamians and Residents:
Good evening. The COVID-19 virus and threat that the world and The Bahamas are facing is a matter of life and death. While most people who contract the virus will recover, many have died and many more will die around the world. More than fifteen thousand people have died around the world so far.

What is frightening is that we do not know how many people will suffer from the virus and how many will die. This virus is so serious and so potentially dangerous for some, that people are dying in large numbers in the richest, the most powerful and the more developed countries in the world. In the worst hit places they announce hundreds of deaths per day – with the highest toll so far being near 800 dead in one day in a country in Europe. Those countries have more resources than The Bahamas.
Grand Bahama Has its First Confirmed Case of COVID-19

Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands stated as of Tuesday, 24th March 2020 the Ministry of Health has confirmed five cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas with the latest case being the first on the island of Grand Bahama. 

During a press conference at the Health Ministry on Tuesday, March 24, Dr. Sands said the previously announced four cases are in New Providence. 

“The latest case is in Grand Bahama and has no significant travel history. Contact-tracing is aggressively underway.” 

He added that the first confirmed case will be discharged today from hospital. 
“Health officials continue to follow the condition of the three other COVID-19-positive cases in New Providence, who remain in isolation at home and do not require hospitalization at this time. They are in stable condition. These three cases are contacts of the first case.”

The Health Minister explained that the Ministry of Health has communicated with the majority of those who have been in contact with the initial case.

He stated that the Ministry of Health Surveillance Unit in New Providence is working closely with Grand Bahama to carry out contact-tracing.

Dr. Sands announced that at this time, close to 200 people have been tested in The Bahamas for COVID-19 following the agreed international protocols. 
Minister of Health Gave Update on the Fight Against COVID-19; Virtual Call Centre Established

Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Duane Sands explained that as of Sunday, 22nd March 2020 the Ministry of Health confirmed four cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas. The cases are in New Providence. During a press conference at the Ministry, he added that seven people are in a quarantine facility and 35 people have been released from quarantine.

He said the first case remains in hospital in stable condition and is being managed in isolation -- a 61-year-old female resident of New Providence who does not have relevant travel history.

The Health Minister noted that health officials continue to follow the condition of the three other COVID-19 positive cases who remain in isolation at home and do not require hospitalization at this time; contact tracing is still being conducted.
Dr. Sands said as COVID-19 is a serious threat, the Ministry of Health has activated its Emergency Operation Centre to mitigate the spread of this coronavirus and to save lives.

“The Ministry has expanded its testing capacity. There are 1,750 test kits on New Providence, and 10,000 rapid test kits have been ordered.

“Two thousand five hundred test kits are expected to be in New Providence by mid-week.
The GBPA launches initiatives to help assist and prepare residents for the potential impact of COVID-19

March 25th - Freeport, Grand Bahama – The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) is collaborating with key stakeholders on the potential impact of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama. “We have been paying close attention to how this global pandemic has affected other countries around the world and we commend the Government of The Bahamas and the Health Authorities, for acting swiftly to protect our nation and for their ongoing communications.

With regard to Grand Bahama, we are following the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 Orders and working closely with the Government and Health Authorities in both complying and maintaining essential utilities such as power, water, and garbage collection. “We have let the relevant authorities know that we are on standby to help and support in any and every way we can”, said Ian Rolle, President of the GBPA. “We are acting upon lessons learned to protect ourselves and each other.
PMH Issues Urgent Appeal for Blood 

The public is advised that the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) is in urgent need of all types of blood. Blood donations can be made at the PMH Blood Bank, Monday to Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm. The final donation will be taken at 4:30pm daily. 
Persons are reminded that official identification is required in order to donate blood. The public is also advised that if you are ill or experiencing respiratory symptoms you should not donate blood. In keeping with social distancing protocols, the Blood Bank is discouraging group donations. No more than three individuals will be facilitated at a time. 

For more information on making a blood donation or for specific instructions on what to do before donating blood, please call the Blood Bank, Princess Margaret Hospital at telephone numbers 502- 7822 or 322-8077. 
DEHS Disinfects Public Spaces

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- The Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) on Monday evening embarked on a disinfecting exercise as a preventive measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces such as roads and sidewalks followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19, according to Melony McKenzie, director of DEHS. A DEHS team of 12 is on rotation, between the hours of 8:30pm to 1am until March 31, 2020; and thereafter if necessary -- targeting Bay Street, Potter’s Cay Dock, Montagu Beach and fishing ramp, Shirley Street and East Street, the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, Saunders Beach, Nassau Street, and Poinciana Drive.

The director noted the disinfectant is not harmful to pedestrians or motorists. Photos show disinfecting of downtown walkways on Tuesday evening, March 24, 2020.
Government Licenses Bahamian Marine Pilots to Operate in Greater Bimini Area

Marine pilots around the globe have for decades provided indispensable services to ships in the maritime industry and marine pilot services have been offered in ports around The Bahamas since the 1900s. Since 2015 Independent Maritime Services (IMS), from its base of operations on Grand Bahama Island, has provided Marine Pilotage services in addition to a slew of other maritime industry services from logistics to launch and port services to guiding vessels in Harbour Island and Egg Island Eleuthera, Exuma, Conception Island, Long Island, San Salvador as well as Bimini/ Ocean Cay.

Most recently, IMS Bahamas’ core team of highly trained and qualified Marine Pilots have been licensed by the Ministry of Transport and the Port Department to Pilot vessels in the Greater Bimini Area. Providing first-hand expert advice on-vessel maneuvering in and out of the Ports in the Greater Bimini Area. 
“Marine Pilots services are of the utmost importance as it pertains to maritime
RBC Royal Bank announces special banking times for seniors during COVID-19 pandemic

Today, RBC Royal Bank (RY on TSX and NYSE) (“RBC”) announced the introduction of special month-end banking times for seniors and differently-abled persons due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. 
From Friday, March 27, 2020 to Friday, April 3, 2020, most RBC branches will open 15 minutes early to serve seniors and differently-abled persons. Following the early-opening, the first 30 minutes of regular branch hours will continue to be reserved for seniors and differently-abled persons.

This initiative will apply to all branches operating in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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