Order enables govt. to isolate, detain people from China
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has declared China an “infected place” for a period of six months, enabling the detention, quarantine and medical supervision of all people arriving from that country.
As of Tuesday, there remained no suspected or confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in The Bahamas.
Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands tabled the Quarantine (Novel Coronavirus “2019-NCOV”) Order, 2020 in the House of Assembly on Wednesday morning.
The order makes the declaration of the infected place outside of The Bahamas and declared COVID-19 as an “infectious or contagious disease”.
The order is dated February 7, 2020.
The Quarantine Act authorizes the minister responsible to declare any place outside of The Bahamas an “infected place” in cases in which he or she may be of the opinion that ordinary provisions of the existing law are inadequate.
Chapter 6 (c) of the Quarantine Act authorizes the government to isolate, detain in quarantine and medically supervise of all people arriving in The Bahamas from any infected place or in any infected or suspected ship.
Sands also tabled a Health Services (Infectious Disease) Order, amending the definition of infectious disease to include the Coronavirus.
The novel coronavirus, which is zoonotic — transmitted between animals and people — was identified as a cause of cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City, the capital of Hubei Providence, China in January.
That month, the World Health Organization’s emergency committee on the virus, declared the outbreak in Wuhan, China, as a public health emergency of international concern.
Despite public health measures undertaken across China, the virus rapidly spread across numerous countries on a global scale.
At last report, more than 89,000 people have been affected across 58 countries.
The global death toll has exceeded 3,000.
More countries reported their first case on Sunday and Monday, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Tunisia, Scotland, Czech Republic and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
The virus meets two of the three main criteria for the technical designation of a pandemic, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told US Congress Tuesday.
The Ministry of Health has developed a national preparedness and response plan to ensure readiness and response to the virus in the event it affects The Bahamas.
According to officials, the ministry has partially convened its emergency operating center
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the virus represents a grave threat to the safety and security of The Bahamas.
He assured the nation is capable of containing and combating the virus, and has been actively shoring up its health institutions in preparation for the potential threat.
He also announced the government will establish a national coordinating committee that will include relevant civil society stakeholders and government representatives.
The prime minister did not indicate when that commitment will be established.