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IDB reveals report on COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on The Bahamas

IDB reveals report on COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on The Bahamas

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis commissioned a Disaster and Loss Assessment (DaLA) of the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on The Bahamas, which was carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

And, the findings outlined in a report reveal billions of dollars in losses, many job losses and impact to the tourism industry.

The Special Presentation of the report was presented on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at IDB House on East Bay Street.  On hand were the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness; Wayde Watson, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Economic Affairs; Colin Higgs, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness, and officials of the IDB and ECLAC directly involved in the assessment and compiling the report “As you are aware, this is a very important report for The Bahamas as it provides lessons from our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Darville told the IDB, ECLAC, and other stakeholders present.

Acknowledging that the pandemic continues to make its presence felt in The Bahamas and countries around the world, Dr. Darville however said he was not advocating lockdowns, but that collaboration remains a critical part of the country’s comprehensive response.

“For the world and, no differently, for The Bahamas, COVID-19 shocked health systems and shattered economies,” he said, adding that “In The Bahamas it weighed heavily on a previously challenged educational system, strained our social safety net and slammed the country’s tourism industry.”

The Bahamas’ COVID-19 story from health, social, and financial perspectives allows the country to reflect on, and leverage the lessons learned, Dr. Darville said.

“These lessons will help us to take intentional action now to strengthen preparation and also quicken our mitigation measures to meet and withstand unknown, unseen, and unimaginable threats,” he said.

Even without the DaLA, Dr. Darville said all only need to be socially aware to see the dire situation that plagued The Bahamas. 

He said that on coming to office, the Davis Administration took the policy decision to strike a delicate balance between preserving life and safeguarding the economy by implementing innovative strategies to protect the health of the public.

“Our policy must be informed by evidence and this evidence is provided by the DaLA, which was prepared using national data available up to early February 2022,” he said.

The report estimates the total cost of the impacts and effects of COVID-19 on The Bahamas at $9.5 billion, with tens of thousands of job losses and long-lasting effects on the country’s tourism sector.

The report also states that the economy is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level only by 2024, mainly because of the gradual pace of recovery in the tourism sector and the long-lasting effects of COVID-19 in this sector.

“Collaboration on these types of reports allows us to create templates that guide our future responses. It is against this backdrop that I wish to say how grateful I am to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for their partnership in preparing and producing this DaLA which goes a long way in documenting the COVID-19 pandemic experience in The Bahamas,” Dr Darville said.

He also thanked the IDB for its loan facility of some $65 million in response to the COVID-19 impact on health infrastructure on the Family Islands. “This loan facility is so vital to our healthcare system,” he said.

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