UB Researchers Identify Key Factors To Be Considered in COVID-19 Response
May 8th 2020
Nassau, THE BAHAMAS — Mathematical modelling has played a key role in predicting COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas, giving government officials and health authorities the opportunity for interventions to decrease the trajectory of infections.
Associate Professor of Chemistry and Assistant Vice President of Institutional Strengthening & Accreditation at University of The Bahamas (UB) Dr. Danny Davis has been working with authorities on these models. At a recent Research Edge presentation, he explained how the data results were produced.
Mathematical models had the country headed towards 64 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Good Friday, and possibly between 96 to 98 cases by Easter Monday, according to Dr. Davis. However, The Bahamas recorded only 42 confirmed cases by 10th April, something he attributed to decisive actions taken to limit the spread of the disease.
“Something happened to stop this trajectory,” said Dr. Davis. “And I’ll tell you, the something that happened was we took action. There was a curfew put in place, we stopped shaking hands, we washed hands more often, we phoned our parents instead of visiting them, we phoned grandparents instead of visiting them. There’s a litany of things that took place in this time period place to ensure that we didn’t make it up to 64 [cases].”
He further noted that when the country recorded 41 confirmed cases, which was on 9th April, there were also eight COVID-19 related deaths. Thus, Dr. Davis said that in shaving off 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 up to that point, The Bahamas spared itself about four deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.
“Ladies in gentlemen, we did a lot,” he said. “And in doing so we stopped 23 cases of COVID-19. As a country, as a citizenry, we actually did something to change the trajectory.”
Dr. Davis’ presentation was entitled “Predicting the Number of COVID-19 Cases in The Bahamas”. In his contribution in the House of Assembly on 27th April, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert A. Minnis referenced Dr. Davis’ analysis of COVID-19 cases as he stressed the need to reduce community spread of the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health’s dashboard dated 29th April, The Bahamas has 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 25 recovered cases, 11 deaths and 792 total persons in quarantine. Worldwide, confirmed cases have soared beyond 3.1 million with in excess of 225,000 deaths.
Dr. Davis shared the Research Edge platform on 24th April with the Chair of Social Sciences at UB Assistant Professor of Sociology Dr. Nicolette Bethel who presented on “Facing the Pandemic in an Unequal World”.
Dr. Nicolette Bethel stressed the need for social scientists to be involved in critical conversations regarding crisis response so that factors like social and economic inequality, uneven development and population density can be properly considered. These are crucial matters for deliberation when implementing sweeping emergency regulations.
Had social scientists been involved or their input seriously considered, Dr. Bethel said, situations like the national panic and chaos that ensued after the government announced a nationwide lockdown and the increased and widespread social mingling that consequently occurred, could have been avoided or lessened.
“We happen to have a particularly male-dominated House of Assembly,” she explained. “And I’m going to go further and say the chances of them doing the weekly shopping is lower than if you had a lot of women sitting around the table. And if you had women sitting around the table you would say, ‘it’s not a good idea to tell people at 3 o’clock that you’re going to lock down for a whole weekend at 5 o’clock on a Friday, because people do their shopping on Friday and Saturday. And so you’re going to see a panic in the stores, and this is what you’ll see.
“And so there are certain things that social scientists can help with predicting that can enable the way in which we go about instituting very necessary lockdowns to be more effective and to cause less chance of spreading the disease.”
Dr. Bethel also noted that the social and economic disparity that exists throughout The Bahamas must be considered when drafting national or emergency responses to crises.
“We also have a precariousness within the middle class that is entirely dependent on what work is available,” she noted. “So the lockdown has increased that precariousness quite considerably, and it is likely to continue to increase. So one has to be designing the interventions with these things in mind.
“Locking down the society for five days was in some ways and many ways for certain people, an undue hardship.”
UB’s Office of Graduate Studies and Research regularly hosts the Research Edge forums to allow scholars to share information on the research projects in which they are involved in the community. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forums have been held through online video conferencing.
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Chartered on 10th November 2016, University of The Bahamas (UB) is a beacon for national transformation. Approximately 5,000 students are enrolled in the University of The Bahamas system which includes campuses and centres on New Providence, Grand Bahama, San Salvador and Abaco, as well as UB online education. UB’s diverse academic programmes, research engagements, athletics and leadership development experiences equip our students to become global citizens in a dynamic world.