PLP’s Covid-19 action plan revealed
Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, expanding on his criticisms of the Minnis administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the PLP has a sound plan to help.
Davis, speaking during a news conference at PLP Headquarters on Wednesday morning, shared the party’s COVID-19 Task Force plan to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to get the country moving on the right path to economic recovery.
“Test, trace, isolate – that's how we stop the virus from spreading,” asserted Davis, who again labelled the way the virus has been handled and the subsequent economic dive being experienced as a failure of the current government.
Confirmed COVID-19 numbers for the country have surpassed the 5,100 with nearly 4,000 of those cases being recorded on New Providence – the country’s main economic hub - alone. More than 100 people have died from the virus.
PAHO/WHO representative in The Bahamas Dr. Esther de Gourville said, in a statement on Tuesday, The Bahamas’ COVID-19 outbreak presents a risk both to national and international public health – a statement that does not bode well for a nation dependent on tourism.
According to the PLP’s plan, an expansion of testing centres throughout the country and offering widespread testing for free, using both the PCR molecular and rapid antigen tests, will help health officials catch more cases, and give more opportunities to stop transmission.
The PLP leader, who has had his own up close and personal experience with COVID-19, having been diagnosed in late August, noted that the PCR tests, which remain the gold standard for testing COVID-19 infections, look for genetic material from the virus, while the rapid antigen tests look for the proteins that live on the virus’ surface and can be processed within 30 minutes.
“One reason COVID is so tough to defeat is because it can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and by people before they develop symptoms. In fact, the one or two days before people develop symptoms is when they are thought to be most infectious, so a testing programme that focuses on people with symptoms misses a lot of positive cases and that is what is happening here,” Davis explained.
Noting that record numbers of Bahamians are struggling to pay their bills, Davis also said it is “immoral” and “short sighted” to ask them to bear the cost of testing and added that the government should offer testing free of charge to anyone who may be concerned that they have been exposed to the virus.
“Bahamians want to do the right thing. Bahamians want to protect themselves, and their families, and their coworkers. Let's make it easier to do so. We need free testing,” he said.
He reiterated his call for a ramp up of contact tracing, suggesting that scores of Bahamians, now unemployed because of the health crisis, can be trained and utilized to build an army of contact tracers.
“Many Bahamians who have tested positive have reached out to me to let me know they were never asked for their contacts. I know the contact tracers are working hard, let’s give them reinforcements. A lot of Bahamians are out of work, and we have a very long and very big and very urgent job that needs to be done.”
“Let's hire and train more Bahamians to trace contacts and offer their fellow citizens support and information. Let’s trace and test the contacts of all those who test positive and let’s do it quickly, in time to make a difference; in time to break the chain of transmission,” he said.
“There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful,” he added, noting that across the world scientists are working to learn more about the virus and how to treat it.
“So let’s follow this road map and let’s make sure that therapeutic treatments are available to Bahamians,” said Davis.
“Let’s take better care of the doctors and nurses, who are taking care of us. Let's give Bahamians the information they need to protect themselves and their families.”
“We are in the middle of the most serious health crisis our nation has faced – where is the public education campaign? I want people to know how much safer it is outdoors than indoors. I want Bahamians to know that simply keeping doors and windows open can make a big diference in dispersing airbourne virus particles.”
“I want to help people to understand the risks and the ways to reduce the risks. I believe persuasion can be more effective than coercion.”
Davis has in the past blasted Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his decisions where lockdown measures are concerned, saying those lockdowns only serve to temporarily pause the COVID-19 spread and are not meant to punish people. He stated Wednesday that what makes more sense is to isolate and support people who test positive and let everyone else work and study and keep our economy moving.
“We only have to keep everyone away from everyone when we don’t know where the virus is, and right now we don’t know enough about where the virus is because we are not testing enough,” he said.
Health experts have said lockdown measures should only be used as a last resort and that their purpose is to give governments time to put in place plans to mitigate further spread of the virus and hopefully beat it.