NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government has urged the Haitian community to immediately come forward with information about symptoms or possible exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) regardless of legal status.
During a press conference last Friday, members of the League of Haitian Pastors and Human Rights Bahamas underscored the need to raise awareness within the migrant community of the risks of the virus, its global spread, and the precautions being taken by the government.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced a nationwide partial shutdown until March 31, as part of stringent efforts to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.
As of yesterday, there have been four confirmed cases of the virus in the country.
When Eyewitness News visited several of those shantytown communities in the Carmichael Road area last week, some residents were still unaware of pandemic and have yet to take the necessary precautions to reduce its spread locally.
Head of League of Haitian Pastors, Pastor Jean Paul Charles said he received a call from the prime minister who told him he wanted the Haitian community to take issue seriously.
The Haitian League of Pastors also met with the Ministry of Health yesterday and were advised of the measures needed in those communities.
“We were informed as to the protocol; that the Haitian community must have the same information that is being propagated in the English-speaking community,” said Edward Saintfleur – another member of the organization.
“In addition to protecting yourself, one of the key points that the minister emphasized was the fact that even persons who are here illegally, if they are feeling any kind of symptom, they should not be afraid of reaching out to Ministry of Health.
“Sometimes a person may have a fever or a cough, but because of their legal status, they may be afraid to come out and express the desire to receive health services.”
Saintfleur said the minister assured that they should not be afraid and underscored the importance of reporting serious illness so that the appropriate action can be taken in order to lessen the likelihood of this disease spreading throughout the community.
The organization noted that materials have been prepared and translated in creole, to be disseminated to the Haitian community to ensure they adhere not only to the health principles but also to the curfews that are being proposed.
Rights Bahamas president Stephanie St. Fleur also warned those residents in the vulnerable categories to take special precautions and call any of the ministry’s hotlines if they need assistance.
She noted if anyone is unable to speak English and needs assistance, they can call 809-2864 as well as the Ministry of Health’s hotlines at 376-9350/376-9387 or 376-9357.