Andros prepared for COVID-19 spread but hopeful, says administrator

Andros prepared for COVID-19 spread but hopeful, says administrator
  • Some 200 Central Andros residents seek unemployment benefits amidst resorts closures 

  • Students don’t have access to wifi or devices 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is expected to meet with Family Island administrators over teleconference today to discuss protocols on the islands to manage the spread of the coronavirus.

The meetings follow up announcements from the prime minister in Parliament that he would be reaching out to the outer islands in the coming days to underscore the importance of the COVID-19 response and emergency orders.

The death of a Bimini resident on Monday has sparked concerns within the community, as health officials await COVID-19 test results.

On Andros, health officials have sought to educate the community on the global pandemic and precautionary measures to the best of their abilities.

In an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, Glenn Lightbourne, administrator for the Central Andros district, said they are “prepared to the best we can, as a Family Island community.”

Lightbourne said the island’s medical team is in touch with the Ministry of Health’s surveillance team, in the event that there is a case that needs to be addressed.

“The surveillance team is in constant contact with our medical team and the protocol is in place to take it from there,” he assured

“And we certainly have the ability to stay inside and observe the lockdown.”

The Fresh Creek clinic is ready for the regular businesses and the screening process that is in place, Lightbourne said.

He noted that there is a separate entry to the clinic, specially for persons who come in with respiratory complaint.

He said other clinics on the island are also staffed with a medical team to deal with illnesses that are normally brought through the community clinic.

He added that in the event health care professionals have to deal with a possible case, they have been adequately trained.

Lightbourne noted however that as the island seeks to prepare for any health impact, the local economy has already been hit by the government’s emergency orders – one of which has already been amended.

He said he has already received several unemployment cards to be stamped, as some of the island’s largest employers shutter their doors.

Kamalame Cay and Small Hope Bay both closed down nearly two weeks ago, sending nearly 200 workers home.

The island administrator also noted that the initial ban on fishing threatened the livelihood of many in the fishing communities who rely on their catch for “sustenance and small sales” to local restaurants that offer takeout.

He said the first eight days where fishing was banned was a bit of a “hardship”.

Lightbourne said there have also been challenges with the closure of schools and the ability to of students to access lessons due to the lack of internet or devices.

He added however that residents on the island have “grasped that this is an effort for our whole nation to address this issue of COVID-19.

“…We are taking it well with a great dose of hopefulness because we know that this too shall pass.”

Finance Minister Peter Turnquest announced in Parliament on Monday that that government has made special provisions to assist the Offices of Family Island Administrators.

The allocations for the different islands range from $10,000 to $325,000. Turnquest did not specify how much each island was given

He noted however that strict financial management protocols have been put in place to administer the use of the funds to procure any COVID-19 related items, and under no circumstances are they to be used for routine expenditures.

“I am advising the House of these allocations to the various Family Island districts to give assurance to all Bahamians across the country that every Family Island community has in its possession the resources on hand to address any immediate need that may arise as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” Turnquest said.

“All our communities across the country can be assured as well that additional allocations will be made available immediately upon need should the occasion so arise.”

Lightbourne said yesterday that he is well aware of the government’s measures for the Family Islands and noted that he and his team are expected to speak with the prime minister today regarding those measures.