Thursday, April 2, 2020

#242NewsBahamas Newsletter Edition: April 2nd 2020

Mother Earth Has Just Dropped the ‘Mic’ - Boom!

Let's see a show of hands, who thought that the first quarter of 2020 would start off like the opening sequence of an apocalyptic film? There've been wildfires in Australia, which consumed everything in sight, volcanic eruptions, floods in Dubai and Indonesia, and now... the CORONAVIRUS!

Unless you've been living under a rock, then you are aware of the havoc that COVID-19 has caused around the world. We've been watching (hopefully from the safety of our homes) as the number of confirmed cases of the virus has started to surge. On Wednesday, health officials confirmed 21 confirmed cases, 1 death, and the discovery of an Eastern New Providence hot spot which has been fueling community spread of the virus locally.

Good afternoon.

I wanted to provide an update on where we are today in our ongoing battle against the health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. As expected, we are in a surge. There is community spread. I want to announce that there are six new cases. This means that as of today, April 1st, 2020, there are 21 COVID-19 positive cases identified: 18 on New Providence and three on Grand Bahama. The six new cases are all on New Providence. One of the new cases has a link to Grand Bahama.
There are 1,500 diagnostic test kits in- country. Aggressive contact tracing continues. Health officials are following cases day- by-day. Through GIS mapping we have identified hotspots on New Providence and we have undertaken GIS mapping on Grand Bahama to identify hotspots there.
The eastern area of New Providence has been identified as a hotspot area. We will be vigorously stepping-up enforcement of the curfew in hot spots. This situation is constantly changing and evolving. So, we have to adapt and to act quickly and decisively.
The information we give the public will also change and develop. We are working hard to give the public and the media the timeliest and most accurate information possible. I want to address this afternoon the death of an individual who was transported from Bimini to New Providence.

Passing of the Baton, From One Police Commissioner to Another

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis gave keynote remarks at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Handing Over Ceremony of the Office of Commissioner of Police, March 30, 2020 at Police Headquarters. He commended Commissioner Anthony Ferguson on his "extraordinary service to our country and to the Bahamian people." The Prime Minister then introduced incoming Commissioner-Designate Paul Rolle, who established the Force's first Cyber Crime Unit, and assured him of full support.

The Prime Minister noted, "Because of the extraordinary circumstances during which we meet to pass the baton from one Commissioner of Police to another, I must of necessity be brief this afternoon. It is my intention to offer a fuller expression of gratitude to outgoing Commissioner Anthony Ferguson and an extended charge to incoming Commissioner-Designate Paul Rolle at an appropriate time and occasion. Today’s ceremony, though brief, is a testimony to our nation’s abiding commitment to the rule of law and to the national institutions which have served The Bahamas before and after our independence as a sovereign nation." 

NIB, SBDC and the Department of Social Services Have Rolled out Social and Economic Support Programmes
By Llonella Gilbert

NASSAU, The Bahamas -- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance announced that last week, the Department of Social Services, the National Insurance Board (NIB) and the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), using the additional resources allocated by this government administration, rolled out social and economic support programmes.
“This means, Bahamians are gaining access to much-needed food assistance and financial support to lessen the economic burden on their households,” DPM Turnquest said as he announced an update on the government’s stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 in the House of Assembly, Monday, March 30, 2020.
“I am also pleased to advise that the Government is expanding its recently announced social assistance programme, targeting a broader category of self-employed persons, and introducing another programme geared at protecting current employment levels.”
Marine Pilotage Firm Lands Virgin Voyages Partnership

New Providence, Bahamas –Independent Maritime Services (IMS), a leader in the Marine Pilotage sector of the local Maritime Industry, has over the past five years expanded its work with private ferries and five-star cruise liners. The company’s core group of government-licensed marine pilots recently teamed up with the famed Virgin Voyages group - owned and operated by world-renowned businessman Richard Branson - to prepare the company’s newly commissioned vessel: The Scarlet Lady, for its official launch.

March 10th, 2020 the M/V Scarlet Lady made her maiden voyage to North Bimini Resorts World Pier. The vessel was safely escorted into port by Captain Kendall Williamson and Captain Kashii Thompson of Independent Maritime Services Ltd t/a Bimini Pilots assisting the Bridge team of Captain Marco Carsjens. Armed with the support of the Ministry of Transport, the Harbour Authority and the Port Controller, IMS was engaged to make sure the new mega Virgin cruise liner entered the island safely with no damage to Bimini’s seabeds.
The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) supports the difficult measures enacted by Emergency Powers

Freeport, Grand Bahama, March 24, 2020: The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) supports the difficult measures enacted by Emergency Powers (COVID 19) (No.2) Order, 2020, announced by the Right Hon. Hubert A. Minnis and urges all Grand Bahamian businesses to follow all mandates to mitigate the extraordinary threat to the community.
“We all have watched, with tremendous sadness and concern, the aggressive progression of COVID-19 and its devastating impacts on lives and some of the greatest health systems and economies of the developed world,” says Greg Laroda, President, GBCC. “We are watching the global pandemic unfold, at alarming rates, with lives lost – including certainly the most vulnerable but also people of all ages, from all backgrounds and many with no concerning history. Around the world, daily lives – and economies – have come to a screeching halted and, in our small nation, we are no different,” he adds.

Mr. Laroda notes that the 24-hour curfew and temporary closure of all but essential services and business were extreme and sure to cause disruption, unease and hardship for Grand Bahamian businesses and citizens alike. However, he says such measures are to prevent a far worse toll and greater hardship in our communities.

Partner in Business Continuity Program Issues Commitment
LENO Chief: ‘We will help business get through this’

The founder and CEO of a leading broad-based financial services firm has pledged “100% commitment” to government’s lending program, created to assist businesses survive the economic impact of coronavirus.

Sean K. Longley, CEO of Leno Group, one of a select few companies chosen to partner with government in the $20 million Business Continuity Program, said staff members volunteered to work as many hours – even with working remotely – as it takes to process loan applications.

“We had a robust number of applications for funds during the first 24 hours after the program was officially launched this week,” Longley said. “The funds that are available can serve as a lifeline to businesses which must remain closed and shuttered as a result of orders aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19. LENO is honoured to be among those selected to screen applications and participate in this initiative and we want to assure those who are considering applying that we will handle their loan applications with discretion, efficiency and speed. We also want to encourage them to apply quickly.”
Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism & Aviation Statement On COVID-19

NASSAU, Bahamas, March 31, 2020 – The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is following guidance from the Bahamas Ministry of Health and other government agencies pertaining to the country’s Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19. Please visit the Bahamas Ministry of Health’s website for the latest information on COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas. Current and future patients are to be isolated in quarantine following the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Further to the Emergency Order, “Emergency Powers (COVID 19) (NO. 2) Order, 2020,” announced by Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) has closed the Lynden Pindling International Airport to all flights, as of Friday, March 27. The public is further advised that, effective March 27, all airports throughout the entire Bahamas shall be closed to all air traffic.
University Research Edge Presentations Resume in Online Platform

Nassau, THE BAHAMAS — In the midst of a national emergency sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, University of The Bahamas (UB) forged ahead with its research presentations, five days after transitioning to remote operations and announcing that previously scheduled events had been postponed or cancelled.

On Friday 20th March, University researchers, who would have traditionally presented before a face-to-face crowd, were instead connected to those listening via an online conferencing application.

Campus Sustainability Coordinator Keyron Smith’s research concluded what many have claimed all along – that the local government system in the Family Islands suffers from insufficient subsidies, deficiencies in central-local relations, undue influence of party politics, and inconsistencies in delivering good governance. His study explored the system’s challenges to determine whether decentralising more power from the central government to local government would improve governance on the Family Islands.
Now is the Time to Get Serious About Mental Health

Everyone is affected by events like Hurricane Dorian and COVD-19. Events this wide-reaching and devastating change our views, our beliefs, and our lives. While not everyone reacts in the same way, we are all impacted in some way whether it be physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually.

We must attend to the mental and emotional aspects of health in times of crisis! Most people are “stressed” by events like these while some feel powerful emotions like terror, uncertainty, or powerlessness. Intense stress and emotional states weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to illness, distress, emotional dysregulation, and mental health symptoms. If left unattended, the symptoms can evolve into conditions that require more intensive treatment.

The effects of stress are cumulative. Resilience is demonstrated when an individual is stressed and then bounces back; this generally requires some recovery time. The Bahamas has not fully recovered from Hurricane Dorian and even earlier storms.
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