NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A shipment of COVID-19 medical supplies that had been blocked by the U.S. will be released today, according to Bahamas Ambassador to the United States Sidney Collie.
Collie said he did not want to divulge any sensitive details on the circumstances that led to a reversal of the decision.
A shipment from Betty K with reportedly “many, many thousands” of critical response supplies was ordered to return to Miami earlier this week.
It follows a decree from American president Donald Trump last Friday, which banned the export of coronavirus protection gear.
“Without going into details of everything that was involved I want to confirm that the U.S. federal authorities at the highest levels advised me last night that the COVID-19 supplies, which were being shipped on the Betty K, which were not permitted to land in The Bahamas because of an April 3 declaration made by President Trump, and which were returned to Miami ,will be released today.
He added: “This blessed Good Friday, thank God.”
According to international reports, a shipment headed to the Cayman Islands was also seized by US Customs and Border Control on Tuesday.
The Cayman Compass reported that shipment has been released and is now due to arrive early next week.
Yesterday, Health minister Dr Duane Sands said impacted shipments included “all of the above, many of the things required to a COVID response, ventilators, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, masks etc.
The seizure was described as a major issue as protective gear has a high burn rate and is critical across all government agencies.
However, Sands underscored the country has sourced supplies from various other countries in their bid to ensure supplies remain well stocked.
In a statement today, the U.S. Embassy official explained the shipment was vetted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and is being released to the carrier for export.
“CBP vetted the shipment in accordance with Presidential guidance to ensure domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries are not engaged in accumulating scarce supplies in excess of reasonable demands for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices,” the official said.
“The United States will continue to support The Bahamas in its fight against COVID-19.”