Cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini and Cat Cay
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Government is considering plans to ease restrictions on the majority of Family Islands that have yet to record a single case of COVID-19 amid the pandemic, according to health officials.
During a press conference at the Ministry of Health yesterday, former Chief Medical Officer Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis said: “If you have no in-traffic into those islands — the same people have remained there for the entire period that we have had lockdowns and this observation — it should be safe.”
However, Dahl-Regis suggested the safety of those islands could be compromised with continued influx of people from the outside, into these islands.
She said with “immune, naïve populations” it is necessary to know their status, and whether there are asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers, or whether there have been infections among that grouping.
“That is really of concern that if you have folks coming in you should have the ability — if they have infections — to very aggressive with contact tracing, so to date, those territories, we are very pleased that many of them have signaled that they don’t want any folks from the outside to come in. If that is achieved, all well and good,” she said.
When asked whether the ministry or health experts had recommended to the prime minister for restrictions to be eased in the Family Islands that have presented no cases, particularly in light of the existing international and domestic travel restrictions, Dahl-Regis said she could only recommend that it was not necessary to have curfew in those territories, “provided they’re borders are not violated”.
“We have some very porous borders and once that is adequately policed, I would recommend that they not be subjected to the curfew that we have in Grand Bahama and in Nassau, but that’s a recommendation,” she said. “You have Cabinet minister here. I would defer to him.”
In response, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said the signals from Family Islands have been positive.
He said those islands were being assessed on a daily basis.
“The recommendations coming from our technical team are being considered and a determination will be made as to when to relax the lockdowns and the restriction of movement in these communities,” the minister said.
“Over the next few days, I believe that we will be able to pull the trigger on some of these decisions, but the signals need to be sustained over a period of time in order to assure that the trajectory continues. We have been fortunate.”
Pressed on whether an easement of restrictions among the relevant islands had been recommended to the prime minister, Sands said the decisions made were done in a timely manner and thus far, those decisions appear to have had some “positive impact”.
He continued: “It shouldn’t be too much longer”.
In an interview with The Tribune this week, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said it could be another months before the lockdown measures could come to an end in the Family Islands that have yet to record a case of COVID-19.
It has been more than a month since the country recorded its first case on the virus in New Providence.
The inoculation period for the virus is approximately 14 days, according to leading experts.
As of yesterday, there were 54 cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas — 45 in New Providence, seven in Grand Bahama, one in Bimini and one in Cat Cay.
Nine COVID-19 patients have died.
Of the 54 cases, nine have recovered.
Over 890 people remain in quarantine.