Glimmer of hope in rate of new COVID cases

By Shelton Daniel

Prime Minister Gaston Browne says there appears to be a reduction in the rate of new COVID-19 cases since the recent introduction of tighter measures that include increased nightly curfew hours, halving the number of persons permitted to congregate in public, and the complete closure of bars where alcohol is sold.

Speaking Saturday during his weekly PointeFM radio programme, the Browne and Browne Show, the Prime Minister said this apparent improvement, coupled with the expected rollout of mass public vaccinations this week, provides the basis for what he considers to be some “hope on the horizon.”

Stressing that he did not want to engage in premature prediction, PM Browne said, “It would appear as though there is some stabilization of the COVID numbers. … We are not seeing an increase in the rate of infections, which is good. If anything, we may be seeing a slight reduction.”

The Prime Minister disclosed that of the forty-three people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, five were being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and battling for their lives. “It should be noted that one of the struggling ICU patients is a thirty-three-year-old male, evidencing that COVID is debilitating and deadly, and it does not respect anyone … doesn’t matter your age, COVID is a serious disease and we ought to take it seriously [because it] is still a significant threat.”

But he added that even if the number of cases or prevalence is considered high at the moment, “We are hoping that we would have peaked by now and … we should see some reduction in the [number of] active cases in the coming weeks as the existing measures – and even the vaccinations that will take place in the coming weeks to achieve herd immunity – will begin to take effect.”

He said authorities know the tightened measures are working, based on a reported “fifty per cent reduction in the number of persons who are infected and seeking medical attention.”

According to PM Browne, the vaccination process will be expanded this week, “In which we will commence mass public vaccinations, and that is when we expect to vaccinate perhaps between two thousand to twenty-five hundred individuals daily. That is the target which has been set by the Health Minister and his officials. It’s an ambitious target, but they feel very confident that they can achieve it.”

The head of government stated that, “So far we have seen an uptick in the vaccination participation, and we are hoping that we could have about eighty thousand individuals vaccinated within the next thirty to sixty days.”

Prime Minister Browne lauded what he described as “some conscientious citizens who – of their own volition, voluntarily – contributed funds to assist with the acquisition of vaccines, even though the government did not solicit any such contribution … I would like to thank them for their contributions. To date we have had contributions from citizens and residents in excess of a million dollars.”

He promised that those generous persons would be identified “at some point, but at this time I just want to let the public know that there [are] citizens who have been going above and beyond the call of duty to donate to this national cause.”

The Prime Minister repeated that his government is not “actively soliciting support to purchase vaccines … If there are other business people or other individuals who want to contribute to the initiative, certainly we will accept. Clearly it will take some financial pressure off the government.”

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