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Health Minister says many Bahamians are suffering from ‘long COVID’

Health Minister says many Bahamians are suffering from ‘long COVID’

FREEPORT, Grand Bahamas, The Bahamas — Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville says there is something that is real in the country called long COVID, and it has affected many Bahamians who have been infected with COVID-19.

Dr. Darville brought up the issue during an Appreciation Dinner on Thursday, July 21, 2022, for all of the volunteers who worked at the COVID-19 centers over the past few years. The event was held at the City of Life Entertainment Center. “We want to bring this issue to the forefront and I thought I would use this platform, while I’m thanking you, to say that there are individuals in our country, here in Grand Bahama, who are suffering from symptoms of long COVID. We need to bring it more to the forefront and do something about it in our health care services,” said Dr. Darville.

The Health and Wellness Minister revealed his own personal struggle with COVID-19 and the aftereffects of the disease long after being released from the hospital.

“I had COVID and I almost died from COVID,” Dr. Darville said. “While I was in the Emergency Room, I blacked out and woke up in the ICU. When I woke up I was confused, not certain of where I was, but I realized that I was alive.

“During my entire ordeal there, a nurse came to me and she took care of me as if I meant something. That changed my life. So, I would like to thank all the nurses for the gift of love they exhibit every day.  It took me about ten days in the ICU, but I was fortunate enough to survive.  I was later discharged.”

However, Dr. Darville said that what he thought was over, wasn’t. He relapsed into long COVID, with neurological symptoms, deficit cognitive skills, fuzzy and with a fast heartbeat. These symptoms, he said, lasted for six months after being discharged from the hospital.

He said when he ran in the election, he was still suffering from elements of long COVID and when he won the seat for Tall Pines and he was then named Minister of Health and Wellness, by Prime Minister Philip Davis, he was “thrown into the ocean” during one of the worse outbreaks of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

‘We lost a lot of people during that time,” said Dr. Darville. “The hospital services had been bleeding for years, unintentional neglect, a lot of holes, Hurricane Dorian opened them wider and COVID actually separated the institution.

“I want to speak about my experience as Minister of Health. I’ve never shared this before, but I think that this is the right platform in which to do this. Today, I still can hear the voices of individuals who lost their lives as a result of COVID-19. There are some families who lost more than one person as a result of COVID.”

These kinds of incidences, said Dr. Darville, have left many Bahamians traumatized. He said there are many people in the Bahamas who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) as a result of what has happened to them or their loved ones during COVID-19. “So, as I stand here to say ‘thank you’ to you, our volunteers, I want you to know that many people are still suffering as a direct result of the ordeal that we have experienced as a nation,” said Dr. Darville. “I believe it has brought us closer together. I know that it has changed my life, because I have not only seen it, but I have experienced it.

“We all know the work you have done in volunteerism, to get people vaccinated, to educate them, to make sure they understand that the vaccine is preventative and the list goes on and on. Volunteers, as we move forward, I want you to know that the Pediatric vaccine is on its way. It is not mandatory, but completely voluntary. For those who want it, it is our responsibility as a government to bring it.”

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