NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While the Ministry of Tourism was unable to say how many follow-up tests have been performed since the tourism reopening, officials have assured the new testing protocol for entry into The Bahamas was underway and results would be provided in short order.
Tourism officials told Eyewitness News: “There are many private clinics that have partnered with the government to implement the five-day test.
“However, a culmination of the results is still ongoing and we expect to have a full update in short order.”
The new international travel policy was announced by Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar on Saturday.
All travelers require a health visa, a negative RT-PCR test taken within five days of travel, and are required to take a rapid antigen test on the fifth day of stay.
If the antigen test is positive, the individual will be required to follow up with a COVID-19 RT-PCR swab test.
The 14-day quarantine protocol has been discontinued.
The government reversed its decision to introduce rapid antigen testing upon arrival, asserting it would be ineffective because of the incubation period of the virus.
According to the emergency orders, anyone who fails to take the rapid antigen test after five days of arriving in New Providence or Grand Bahama will be subject to a $1,000 fine or one month in prison.
The health travel visa, which includes the follow-up rapid antigen test and mandatory health insurance, will cost $55 for visitors staying up to four nights and five days, with the same cost for citizens and returning residents.
For visitors staying more than four nights and five days, the cost is $80.
The Bahamas saw significant growth in the number of coronavirus cases just days after its July 1 reopening.
Two months later, the novel coronavirus had spread to every major island of The Bahamas.
During the first wave, which spanned mid-March through the end of June, the country recorded 104 cases spread over four islands.
This included New Providence with 82, Grand Bahama with eight, Bimini with 13 and Cat Cay with one case.
At the time, 89 cases had recovered and no cases were hospitalized.
Prior to the reopening, The Bahamas had not recorded a new infection since June 18.
July 1 marked the return of international commercial carriers to The Bahamas.
Health officials largely attributed the surge in cases to Bahamians traveling and returning to the country.
At the time, the government allowed residents who traveled abroad for less than 72 hours, to return to The Bahamas without a negative COVID-19 test.
Since then, nearly 7,000 cases have been recorded across the country with 346 cases pending locations.
The number of COVID-deaths in the country now stands at 151, while 25 deaths were under investigation.
There are currently 1,835 active cases, and 4,876 recoveries.
This represents a 70 percent recovery.