Effects and impacts of COVID-19 on the Bahamas estimated at $9.5 billion
A new report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 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 lasting effects on the country’s tourism sector.
Most of the losses due to COVID-19 for the period 2020 to 2023 were concentrated between 2020 and 2021, at 84%. The worst year was 2020, where 48% of losses occurred. Total tourism losses were estimated at nearly $7.9 billion, largely due to lower numbers of stopover visitors.
According to the report, the economy is not expected to return to its pre-pandemic level until 2024, mainly due to the gradual pace of recovery in the tourism sector and the lasting effects of COVID-19 in this sector.
That estimate is more than two and a half times the estimated $3.5 billion cost of damage and loss from Hurricane Dorian, which devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019, just six months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic overlapped and negatively impacted the recovery process from Hurricane Dorian. The two disasters are estimated to have cost the country $13.1 billion, according to a report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Assessment of the effects and impacts of the COVID -19 Pandemic in the Bahamas.
The magnitude of the impacts of COVID-19 has highlighted the need for comprehensive disaster risk management and health risk management, among other strategies and instruments to better serve the country, in areas ranging from strengthening from disaster risk governance to investing in disaster risk reduction, and improving disaster preparedness.
Overall employee and worker wage losses are projected to reach $2.4 billion from 2020 to 2023, or 4.9% of GDP per year on average.
The employment impact of these losses is estimated at around 30,000 jobs, or 14.7% of the labor force, according to the report.
The pandemic in the Bahamas has affected more women than men. Women accounted for 53% of the total confirmed cases. About 43% of reported cases were in people between the ages of 20 and 39.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global economic order and global public health. Social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus have created significant challenges for global economic activity. Sectors such as tourism, which depend on the movement of people, are virtually shut down,” said Daniela Carrera-Marquis, IDB Country Representative in the Bahamas.
“The Bahamas economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for half of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The pandemic has also highlighted the socio-economic vulnerability of the country, as businesses and citizens have been hit hard.
Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has presented an unprecedented challenge for most governments, especially those whose economies are heavily dependent on external factors such as tourism, Carrera-Marquis said.
Considering the impact of COVID-19 on the health of citizens and key productive sectors of the economy, the IDB, through a partnership with ECLAC, has deployed a team of local and international research experts to assess and collect relevant data to prepare the report and provide recommendations that could inform the creation of a sustainable health risk management (HRM) framework.
Since the start of the pandemic, the IDB has provided the Bahamas with $200,000 in technical assistance and $60 million in loans for projects aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 and mitigating other indirect impacts of the pandemic on health. These programs also aim to prepare the country’s health system for future risks.
Projects also focused on designing a strategy for integrating primary health care services to improve quality of care; establish adaptive and climate-resilient clinics to provide primary care services; improving emergency response capability; and design a roadmap to digitally transform the healthcare system, including offering electronic health records and telemedicine services.
The report recommends the implementation of a comprehensive framework for a resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which will require a combination of structural and non-structural measures to reduce long-term socio-economic, environmental, institutional and human vulnerabilities .
While prioritization, resource requirements and timing of interventions will rest with the Government of The Bahamas, the report encourages policy planners and stakeholders to take advantage of related initiatives underway, including existing frameworks and the country strategy. of the IDB Group (2018-2022), while considering national priorities regarding gender equality and inclusion in human rights.