No restrictions on horizon; health minister says “economy needs to open”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville said yesterday that a cluster of COVID-19 cases remains a cause of concern on Inagua.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, Darville gave an update on the recent outbreak of new infections on the island, indicating that the matter is being “monitored closely”.
He said a team visited the island over the weekend and identified an issue with quarantine not being enforced or maintained.
Noting the ongoing influx of undocumented Haitian migrants who are being detained on Inagua, Darville said some of the officers responsible for monitoring quarantine are focusing on that crisis.
He insisted, however, that the recent increase in cases does not stem from undocumented migrants.
“We believe it is associated with an imported case from one of the local residents on the island that has caused a cluster and we want to make sure there’s no community or person-to-person spread,” he said.
Darville explained that an individual went to New Providence and upon returning to Inagua, exposed several loved ones, creating a cluster of cases.
As of Monday, Inagua had recorded 48 total coronavirus cases, up from the 25 last month.
The Ministry of Health is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation on Inagua, which has 23 active cases and 34 people in quarantine.
The recent cases and deaths have sparked serious concerns for residents on the island.
Some have even called for Inagua to be placed on lockdown in order to get the cases under control.
However, Darville noted yesterday that the government does not intend to implement any additional restrictions.
“We feel at this particular time we are okay to the point that we do not need to bring restrictions back to the way they were,” he said.
“We are watching it extremely closely and in the vent that we feel we need to execute more measures, we will.
“But one of the things that are important is to improve surveillance.”
He continued: “We have come up with a strategy now to improve our policing capability because the economy needs to open. We need to be able to live with COVID, control COVID and to be able to get on with life.”
The health minister said while the number of cases is “going down”, health facilities continue to see challenges with positive cases presenting themselves “too late”.
The government intends to move forward with its campaign promise to end the state of emergency and replace it with legislation to mitigate the pandemic.
A public state of emergency has been in effect since last March, along with teetering lockdowns and daily curfews. There have been four separate proclamations since the first one last year, with the extension of the latest one set to end on November 13.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has been against the orders since the inception and its parliamentary caucus has voted against all of the Minnis administration’s resolutions to extend the orders.
The Minnis administration released a bill for that purpose for public consultation prior to demitting office.