NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis Monday night announced a “complete national lockdown” of every island in The Bahamas for at least the next two weeks after the country recorded a significant spike in the number of cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a nationwide radio and television broadcast, Minnis said that acting on the advice of health experts “I am announcing today a national lockdown for the entire country commencing tomorrow, Tuesday, August 4th at 10:00 pm (local time).

“The national lockdown will be for a minimum of two weeks (and) nearing the end of this period we will assess the health data and advise whether a further lockdown period is necessary. The extension, relaxation or cessation of the national lockdown will in part be determined by the cooperation of Bahamians and residents alike”.

Minnis, who is also a medical practitioner, said the longer Bahamians take collectively “to bring this second wave under control, the longer it will take to resume a sense of normalcy.

“All of our actions collectively make a difference during this pandemic. We all have a personal and social responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. Both government and citizens must play their part in helping to protect the health of others. Each island in our archipelago must do its part,” he added.

Minnis said that the increase in cases of the virus is not only a situation confronting The Bahamas, but that many countries worldwide were also experiencing this second wave of the virus for which there is no known vaccine

“Just as we acted aggressively and forcefully during the initial outbreak of the pandemic we must once again act quickly and forcefully to protect the general health and to save lives,” he said, adding that over the past two weeks health officials have seen an increase in the number of indicators that point to the need for a national lockdown.

“There has been an exponential increase in the number of cases, an increase in hospitalisation, an increase in the demands for intensive care unit beds and sadly an increase in the number of deaths,” Minnis said, noting that the more cases presenting to health institutions, the more services will be needed.

“Right now our bed capacity and human resources are being increasingly stretched. Health officials advise that a lockdown will allow for a re-purposing of health facilities and addition of health resources to accommodate the increased need for hospitalisation and healthcare support”.

The Ministry of Health reported on Monday that there were 31 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 22 in Grand Bahama and nine in New Providence.

It said this brings the total number of cases to 679, with 572 of those active. There have been 14 deaths.

In his broadcast, Minnis said that 2020 has not been a year we all imagined.

“I know many of your plans have been halted. Certainly mine has been halted. Many of your dreams paused, it is difficult not having our routines. It is difficult not seeing our friends, families and loved ones in the close ways we used to before this deadly virus.

“Pandemic fatigue is setting in, many are tired of restrictions, tired of separation and I understand your frustration. I too, would like to be back to better days and better times,” Minnis said.

He said that the virus, which was first detected in China last December “kills young and kills old” and that “our most recent data suggests that most of those who were affected were between the ages of 20 and 40. So now this aggressive deadly virus is attacking our young people,” he said, noting that the virus leaves some survivors “so damaged that their lifespan may be shortened”.

Minnis paid tribute to two former senior public servants who have died and reminded Bahamians of the need to follow the measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

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