On the infamous date when the FNM first came to power on Wednesday 19 August 2020 and with people protesting the FNM policies in the streets where is what former Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands MP had to say to The Tribune:
“ People were pissed off. People were angry that they were forced into a position where they didn’t have the opportunity to do what responsible people do. ‘I didn’t get medication for my mummy,’ ‘can you help me to get some water,’ ‘I need a five gallon bottle of water, Dr Sands can you help me to get it?
… “Anything is feasible and realistic if it is properly planned and executed. What is not reasonable is an ad-hoc spur of the moment decision that does not take into account the reality of life in The Bahamas, particularly for the least among us. Yes we are able to participate in a lockdown, and yes the overwhelming majority of Bahamians, and I’m speaking about my view that greater than 90 percent of Bahamians support the idea that the virus has to be beaten and that an obligatory part is aggressive social distancing, but people still have to eat and people still have to take medication, people still need basic necessities of living and when you are forcing people to make the choice between complying with a protocol and living, then they are going to have to choose survival.
“As a surgeon I try to look at the root cause of a problem,” he said. “The root cause of this is multifactorial. We have a number of weaknesses in our approach to COVID-19, we are trying to make decisions with inadequate data, we have issues with persons spreading this virus in restaurants, office buildings, health facilities and so on and that means that we have widespread community transmission so our approach has to be multifaceted and I think we need to now be focused on enforcement and education so that people consistently practice an approach to COVID-19 all the time.
“Suggesting we can just lock a country down without a plan that every single Bahamian can articulate is not the way. If you simply lock down and open up and nothing is different, isn’t that the definition of insanity? What is the plan? How will people earn a living once you come out of the shutdown and will you be doing things the same way as before?”
“Lockdowns are effective if you are buying time to implement a particular plan. The World Health Organisation has made it clear that national lockdowns are not the way to go unless you are doing it for a particular reason to roll out a policy that will be articulated to the general public. What we’ve done is we’ve vilified the population. We’ve said you are the reason why we are in this problem as opposed to saying we are all partners together and if we work together and agree this is going to be the approach. So this is going to take wide consultation, real consultation. This is not a one man job.
“We have to try and demonstrate that we are worthy of trust. One of the things we have to do is apologise, own the problem that we have done some things that we shouldn’t have done. What that does is it humanises the government and gets people to understand ‘hey, I’m not the only one a part of the problem, the government is also a part of the problem.’ We’ve all made mistakes, I’ve made mistakes, but we have to work together to move forward.”