With five deaths and 29 confirmed cases, roughly 18 percent of COVID-19 patients have died in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas has one of the highest casualty numbers in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Jamaica, with 55 confirmed cases, has recorded three deaths so far. In Trinidad, where there are over 100 cases, seven people have died. Barbados, which has over 50 confirmed cases, saw its first COVID-19 death yesterday.

However, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said the sample size in The Bahamas is too small to discuss the local mortality rate.

“I think it would be inappropriate to make proclamations based on a small sample size, which is not likely to be truly representative of the full picture,” he said.

“And so, there is no reason for us to believe that COVID-19 acts any differently in The Bahamas than it does anywhere else.

“For instance, in some countries, the first patient diagnosed with COVID died. Does that mean that they have a 100 percent mortality rate? No. So, it’s a sampling issue. And I think we have to be very cautious that when we make statements, that those statements are statistically accurate.”

Sands, however, warned that more Bahamians will die if the public does not take the situation seriously.

“What we are watching is the experience that many countries are having right now,” he said.

“And we are watching a heartbreaking saga unfold right before our eyes.

“…We are all giving the same advice that people have to listen to, because if they do not, the consequences will be even more tragic than they have been.

“So anybody who believes that these recommendations ought not apply to them, that somehow this is excessive – think again.

“We are watching Bahamians die. They will continue to die unless we optimize our response to flatten this curve.”

Sands added, “We have said it repeatedly.

“We are in the surge. All of the interventions, the recommendations, social distancing, the lockdown, restriction in personal movement, etc., is as a result of the evidence-based assessment that we have a problem. And we would like the public to understand that these deaths will continue as long as we don’t follow the recommendations.”

Many have questioned whether enough people are being tested in The Bahamas. Sands said that while testing is set to increase, the government is following global recommendations.

“We are following the lead of many, if not most, of the public health recommendations around the world,” he said.

“There are many different strategies and suggestions that are being made. It’s very easy to make a suggestion, but there are logical challenges of rolling out a strategy that has not been validated.

“And so, even as we prepare to increase the number of people who are tested, we need to make sure that it is done appropriately so that we get data that is reliable and data that guides and helps the way forward as opposed to confounds what we do.”