Local companies prepare for widespread testing

Local companies prepare for widespread testing

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Dozens of local businesses and establishments are moving toward implementing widespread rapid antigen testing amongst their employees.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Tourism announced a public-private partnership with the Living With COVID Coalition (LWCC), a local non-profit organization, to secure access to up to three million approved rapid antigen tests.

The tests will be utilized to enforce new travel protocols to boost the tourism economy and will also aid in a private sector initiative for testing, screening and reporting COVID-19 cases.

Among businesses to confirm participation with the rapid antigen testing with LWCC are Super Value, Commonwealth Building Supplies, Fun Food Wholesale, Green Parrot, Lennox Paton, Muffler World, Nassau Yacht Haven, New Oriental Cleaners, Pinder Tile, and Lee Interiors Ltd.

Businesses will also be able to access a management platform to track and screen the results of employees.

The move comes just days before the country is set to remove the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival on November 1.

Rupert Roberts, Super Value’s president, told Eyewitness News that the testing strategy would mean a shift in how businesses are able to handle the virus internally.

He said the antigen rapid tests are inexpensive enough to just “take a test to be sure”.

“It’s a way of opening up,” he said, “…It looks like we are working our way out of this.”

Roberts said in October that the food store chain had as much as 34 employees in quarantine at one time, but all of the tests came back negative, costing hundreds of dollars in overtime.

“We are thinking about letting employees test themselves,” he added, indicating that the process is expected to be fairly simple.

“We hope that employees can test themselves and we use the honour system because we pay them to stay home, and we fire them if they come”.

Deandra Alexander, Super Value’s Human Resource Manager noted that the company is still ironing out all of the details and are seeking the most effective and safest way to have all of their employees checked out.

She said the company is still learning about the process of antigen testing, to ensure testing and results can be completed in a timely matter.

Pointing to his company’s use of their HR department to contract trace employees who have been exposed to COVID-19, Roberts suggested that the government engage the private sector to implement a similar practice of contract tracing in businesses.

LWCC is expected to begin setting up testing stations at the different ports of entry throughout the country at the end of the week.