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Wells attempts to defend Health Ministry’s testing efforts amid more criticisms by PLP Leader Davis

Parliamentarians clashed yesterday over how The Bahamas has fared so far amid a health crisis that has claimed the lives of more than one million people around the world.

Health Minister Renward Wells sought yesterday to refute claims made by PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis that the Minnis administration has fumbled the ball with its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country has recorded over 4,000 cases of the virus - more than 3,000 of those confirmed cases were recorded on New Providence alone - and 94 deaths with an additional 15 still under investigation.

On a point of order in yesterday’s House debate, Minister Wells refuted Davis’ claims that not enough testing is being done, insisting that health officials had “dramatically” increased testing in The Bahamas and had acquired new equipment to adequately test for COVID-19. He explained that The Bahamas went from performing 300 tests per day in July to being able to perform almost 1,000 tests per day more recently.

He added that 71 junior nurses who passed the nursing programme were “in the system” and now working along with nurses, and were scheduled to take their exams on November 1. Additionally, he reported that some 29 Bahamian doctors - or Senior House Officers - were hired in the last two months.

The PLP Leader had reiterated his previous criticisms of Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and the decision to reopen the country’s borders. Davis had long been calling on Minnis as the Competent Authority per the country’s COVID-19 Emergency Orders to execute wide spread testing and ramp up contact tracing. He had also spoken out against the reopening of the country’s borders and said the administration’s focus should be balanced on fixing the stifled economy and keeping Bahamians safe.

Opining that The Bahamas has performed poorly in the region as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, Davis told Parliament yesterday, “There was not enough testing or tracing in place to stop a few cases from turning into thousands. This is what happened and continues to happen. Each day you are having an average of over 50 and yet the government appears to be doing nothing other than insisting that tourists come back soon, and this to me is baffling.”

He asserted that as long as the virus continues to spread, the people and the economy of The Bahamas will remain in crisis and that it is imperative that the government learns from past mistakes.

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