Chinese officials expect govt. to reconsider travel restrictions as cases slow
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo yesterday said while new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have begun to slow across China, the threat posed to The Bahamas has increased.
Qinguo noted spread of new cases in neighboring countries such as the United States.
He underscored the spread of the virus from China has been minimized due to the “strict restrictions taken by the Chinese government”.
“We notice that many confirmed cases have been found in Europe, Middle East; and even the United States and Canada,” the ambassador said.
“The Bahamas is a world class tourist destination.
“Every day there are tens of thousands of tourists coming from all other countries, especially from the United States.
“During my meeting with the health minister and well as the foreign affairs minister we discussed the situation and we all agreed that the risk of importing cases is increasing, and attention should be paid to visiting tourists from neighboring countries.
“We also agreed that necessary prevention measures should be taken to protect public health of The Bahamas. I personally recommend the residents here to take necessary prevention measures to protect yourself and your family.”
According to the ambassador, new cases of the virus across China has slowed to fewer than 200 per day and in provinces such as Wubei, confirmed cases over the last several days has slowed to less than 10.
“The spread of the virus has been effectively controlled in China,” said Qinguo, through a translator, during a press conference at the Chinese Embassy in The Bahamas on Shirley Street.
“By today, March 5, altogether China has the number of confirmed cases [at] 80,851 and the total cured cases has reached 52,151. About 70 percent of the confirmed cases have already been cured and released from hospitals.”
In January, the Bahamian government began denying entry to non-residents who had travelled to China — the epicenter of the virus — within 20 days of their arrival in The Bahamas.
This week, it tabled a quarantine order declaring an “infected place” for a period of six months, enabling Bahamian authorities to detain, quarantine and medically supervise all people arriving from that country.
Yesterday, the government expanded travel restrictions to deny entry to non-residents that have traveled to Italy, Iran and Korea countries within 20 days before arriving in The Bahamas.
Those countries have had several thousand confirmed cases and growing.
Globally, more than 93,000 people have been affected across 70 countries
When asked whether the spread of the virus in China has slowed sufficiently for The Bahamas to reconsider its travel restrictions on China, in response, Qinquo said Chinese experts project that by the end of this month, there will be no new cases out of Hubei, and its capital Wuhan.
“The normal daily life will be restored all around China except the Hubei Providence,” he said.
“At this stage, many cities are in the process of restoring normal daily lives.
“We noticed that today the Bahamian government announced three countries have been added to the list of travel restrictions, namely Repulic of Korea, Italy and Iran.
“With regard to the case of China, we talked about the situation and the two ministers commended the achievements made by the Chinese government and they also expressed that they will follow closely the developments of the situation in China and revisit the policy of The Bahamas and they will consider to lift the restrictions according to their assessment.”
In January, the embassy advised Bahamians to postpone their trips to China until the virus had been contained.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, along with health officials, said Sunday the virus represents a grave threat to The Bahamas, but assured the nation is capable and prepared to combat the global health threat.