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COVID-19 pandemic |06 May 2020

COVID-19 pandemic

‘We are not in the clear yet’


By Christophe Zialor


“We are not out of the woods yet. Even though some restrictions have been lifted, precautions must still be taken to contain the spread of COVID-19.”

This was said by Dr Jude Gedeon, Public Health Commissioner and Dr Danny Louange, chief executive of the Health Care Agency in a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of Health.

The doctors explained that even though some restrictions have been lifted precautions must still be taken, noting that there are some businesses who are not making the necessary efforts although things are running smoothly.

“We still have restrictions regarding movement of vessels coming in and out of the country. This will stay in place until further notice and boats will not be able to enter or leave the port without the authorisation of the Ministry of Health,” said Dr Gedeon.

Dr Gedeon added that they also got request from the agency in charge of the Spanish fishing vessels in the country regarding crew change that will involve 300 crew members being flown in to replace the 300 crew that are already here.

He said the Ministry of Health has placed conditions for them before entering the country which include being tested 48 hours before coming into the country and are chartered in a plane with their own airline crew. Once in the country they will go from the airport to the port and on their boat and they will be quarantined at sea outside of the port.

“We are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that everything goes smoothly and in case of a crew member getting sick, the shipping company they work for has a doctor stationed at the port that will advise them on the necessary steps. We will also administer a test when they come back to port after 14 days,” said Dr Gedeon.

He further noted that the country cannot remain on lockdown for a long time as this will have adverse side effects for the country. He took example from other countries who had closed their borders for too long and their economy suffered the cost which prevented them from getting the necessary resources.

“Even though we have returned to normal we must keep in mind that we may still get hit with a second wave of the virus like we have seen in other countries. We must make sure that we have the necessary resources to deal with a second wave,” said Dr Gedeon.

On his part Dr Louange said that they still have two positive cases at the Family Hospital at Perseverance who are still waiting for their status to become negative so they can be transferred to the quarantine centre at Beau Vallon Bay.

The doctor also noted that they admitted a third person at the isolation facility in order to run tests.

“We also have 67 nurses and health officials from Kenya currently in quarantine as well as the four recovering patients,” said Dr Louange.

He also added that health centres have officially started all its services and are starting to see patients.

Dr Louange stated that one change that will occur will be in regards to the English River pharmacy where people who work in town could pick up their medicine.

“As from tomorrow, people will have to go to their specific health centres in their respective districts, this is being done to minimise the number of people in the clinic,” said Dr Louange. He also advised the public to pick up their subscription in the afternoon.

Sixteen police officers from Botswana have also entered the country recently and many people are asking why they were not in quarantine at Beau Vallon Bay. The doctor noted that the place where they are being quarantined was chosen as a quarantine centre by the Ministry of Health but it had never been used before the arrival of the police officers.

He also noted that the reason the officers have not been accommodated at the newly built 32-room quarantine centre on South East Island is because it is not yet ready for use.

Dr Gedeon noted that the police officers are following the strict guidelines given by the health department and they cannot leave the premises without permission. Their temperature is also being taken every day.

“It is not the first time that we have used private facilities for quarantine. Who will bear the cost? I can’t say for sure but it will not be the Ministry of Health,” Dr Gedeon noted.

Concerning the health officials from Kenya, Dr Louange told the press that 45 are nurses, five are WHO representatives who will be helping with the response of the pandemic. Among them are two public health officials, one lab technician, one doctor and one logistician.

Doctor Louange added that the nurses have different levels of qualifications which will be put to good use when preparing for the worst case scenario.

“The pandemic has been predicted to go on for another 18-24 months, so we have been preparing ourselves in the event of a community outbreak to make sure that our health system is ready,” said Dr Louange.

After their 14 days in quarantine, the nurses will be sent to their respective post such as triage centres and in areas where they will help implement public health measures such as schools and organisations.

Both doctors also expressed their gratitude towards the public for understanding and cooperating with them during the 28-day lockdown.

The next press conference by the Ministry of Health will be tomorrow, Thursday May 7.





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