Berry Islands begin COVID19 testing, as North Andros health facility prepares for possible cases

Berry Islands begin COVID19 testing, as North Andros health facility prepares for possible cases

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – North Andros health facilities have been braced for possible coronavirus cases, said the island’s administrator Joseph Ferguson yesterday.

“The clinic continues to open daily and are doing their regular duties,” Ferguson said in an interview with Eyewitness News.

“They’ve identified places for persons who need to be quarantined.

“We’ve located two areas for persons who are being quarantined and requests have been made for six to eight cots for one quarantine area.”

Ferguson said an isolation room has been identified in the North Andros public clinic, in the event of a suspected case.

He assured that medical masks are in stock and more are being ordered and a quantity of large oxygen tanks are available with oxygen.

“We have tried to do all we can from the medical point of view,” he said.

“…We are trying as much as we can to prevent.”

Ferguson, who also serves as administrator for the Berry Islands, noted there has already been some testing done on the Berry Islands and North Andros health facilities have been prepared for any eventualities.

Asked whether a possible spread in the shantytowns that were tucked away in the community were a concern, Ferguson said: “Most of the residents in the shantytowns no longer live there…We are still monitoring that and are still dealing with it. We put a hold on it for the time being until this epidemic has been handled. They’ve basically moved out.”

On Monday, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard said the population in these unregulated communities on North Andros has somewhat dwindled since the government posted eviction notices in the community.

On February 5, residents of the San Andros shantytown were given eviction notices giving them 30 days to leave before their homes were demolished.

An estimated 1,800 people resided in shantytowns in the area.

Ferguson, who also serves as the island administrator for the Berry Islands. assured that they are doing everything that they can to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness on both islands.

Asked whether there are adequate healthcare facilities on the small island, or readily available emergency flights in case someone contracted the disease, he said, “We did some testing a few weeks ago, had some community meetings and nothing of concern at the moment.”

Ferguson added that officials are working toward ensuring they isolate persons who may contract the disease.

“So we are likely to send them to Nassau for further treatment,” he said.

Similarly to islands throughout the archipelago, hundreds of the islands residents who were working at the nearby Coco Cay were sent home temporarily.

“Over 300 employees would have been impacted, all have been sent home and they will be recalled.” Ferguson indicated.

As he underscored the seriousness of the pandemic, he urged Bahamians to “unite to fight this deadly disease. I wish to say to my fellow Bahamians, let’s ask for God’s guidance and protection.”