Defense Force increases presence in southern Bahamas

Defense Force increases presence in southern Bahamas
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames (file photo)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday the government remains concerned about the threat of undocumented migrants infected with COVID-19 entering The Bahamas illegally.

Dames, who was responding to questions from Eyewitness News, said the defense force has increased its presence in the southern Bahamas and other key entry points.

Last Wednesday, two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on Grand Bahama — a 20-year-old undocumented migrant and a Grand Bahamian woman.

Eyewitness News understands the undocumented migrant is a Haitian national, who had been living in Eight Mile Rock since March.

“It’s something that we are aware of,” Dames said.

“Every week as a Cabinet we discuss the COVID problem at length.

“I think you can see the result of that to date so far. We have been one of those countries throughout the world that have actually been leading in our preventive measures to fight against this pandemic.”

He continued: “We understand ours is a very porous border. We’re an archipelago stretched over some 100,000 square miles of sea and so we’re on heightened alert.

“I just visited with the commodore not too long ago and then had a very good briefing. We have our presence out in the southern Bahamas and those key entry points into our borders. We’re not only concerned about [Haiti], we’re concerned about every country. We’re concerned about every citizen, every foreign person coming into this country. We have to ensure and we have put measures in place.”

Haiti, which the Pan American Health Organization labeled a humanitarian crisis in relation to the pandemic, has become a COVID-19 hotspot in the Caribbean.

The Bahamas’ southern neighbor has experienced a large scale outbreak of cases and had more than 13 deaths over a two-day period.

The total death toll was last reported at 139 and there have been nearly 7,000 cases since March 19.

Pressed on the threat of imported cases from undocumented migrants, Dames said: “I am certain as I said before, we will look at that as we have been looking at every incident prior to it.

“We keep updated charts on trends and what’s happening, and how things are happening and what we can do to mitigate and to address, and focus on the issues because at the end of the day we want a nation that’s safe from this very, very devastating virus.

“We can’t afford it to overrun our communities. We can’t afford it to inundate our hospitals.”