For the first time ever, The Bahamas recorded more than 800 COVID-19 cases in a single day, as the fourth wave, which health experts believe is being driven by the Omicron variant, continued its assault.
Over the weekend, 1,846 new COVID cases were recorded in The Bahamas — 388 on Thursday, 818 on Friday, 291 on Saturday and 349 on Sunday.
Of the cases, 1,588 were on New Providence; 131 on Grand Bahama; 42 on Exuma; 26 on Abaco; 17 on Inagua; six on Bimini; six on Eleuthera; four on Andros; four in the Berry Islands; four on Long Island; three on Cat Island; and 15 with locations still pending.
COVID hospitalizations also climbed steeply to 110 as of Sunday.
Of them, 70 people were in Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH), 18 in Doctors Hospital and 22 hospitalized in Grand Bahama.
Five people were in intensive care.
Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme, said yesterday the majority of people in PMH were still coming in for other reasons but happened to also have COVID. These have become known as incidental COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“The numbers are increasing daily,” Forbes said.
“The majority of the patients are not oxygen requiring. That’s a good thing but they are presenting for other reasons, other problems that require hospitalization and they’re COVID-positive.”
She added, “There are other patients, of course, that are presenting with COVID symptoms but the majority have other problems and they’re also COVID-positive.”
However, Forbes warned that the healthcare facilities are only days away from being overwhelmed at this current pace.
“At this rate, I think we will be seeing a large number of hospitalizations quite soon, maybe in another week or two; we will be back at that kind of capacity.
“And we do know that when hospitals are beyond capacity, that is when the deaths tend to follow. They follow the trend in hospitalizations.”
In the last week, The Bahamas recorded 3,002 COVID cases.
Positivity rates have remained very high, with the lowest daily rate in the past week recorded on Saturday at 37.3 percent — more than seven times the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended maximum of five percent.
The high percentages indicate that there are likely many people with COVID who are not being tested with PCR tests and thus not included in the daily figures.
No COVID deaths were recorded over the weekend.
To date, there have been 717 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in The Bahamas since the start of the pandemic. Another 153 people died with COVID, but not because of it, while 37 deaths were still under investigation.
Forbes said yesterday that unless the public takes the established health measures seriously, the increase in cases could be drawn out, lasting for several more weeks.
“If these numbers are going to slow down, it’s really going to require persons following the public health measures and adherence.
“And everybody is going to have to do it if the numbers are going to slow down significantly. Short of that, if that doesn’t happen, what will continue to happen is an Omicron surge, which is going to go on for quite some time. It could be a rapid uptick for a number of weeks and then the numbers could slow down, or it could continue for a longer period of time.”