Minnis: We will be even more aggressive in trying to get vaccines ASAP
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Individuals traveling between Abaco mainland and its surrounding cays will not be required to undergo an RT-PCR test or obtain a travel health visa, according to the latest amendment to the emergency order.
The Emergency Powers (COVID 19 Pandemic)(Risk Management)(No 4.)(Amendment)(No. 6) Order, 2021 imposes a new curfew on mainland Abaco from 8pm to 5am, starting Sunday.
The regulations also add Abaco to the list of islands, including New Providence and Grand Bahamas, that require a COVID test and a travel visa for inter-island travel.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis foreshadowed the change in an interview with reporters on Thursday, indicating that the island has seen a recent slight increase in cases.
“We feel that with two weeks of this strict type of protocol, we would be able to control Abaco and prevent it from spreading into other parts of The Bahamas,” Minnis said.
“As you know, The Bahamas is recognized throughout the world for the excellent we job we have been doing and essentially a COVID-free destination and therefore we do not want Abaco’s experience that they are having now to spread out to the other Bahama islands.”
As of Thursday, Abaco had recorded 246 total cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.
The island saw 14 confirmed cases over the past week.
Minnis explained the spread in cases on Abaco has been confined to Marsh Harbour and the northern parts of Abaco, while the central part has not been affected.
“I want to reassure the populace it is not an outbreak in Abaco,” the prime minister said.
“We’re taking strict precautions because of the increase. We don’t want it to go any further and we’ve used this method in the past and it’s worked and we will use this method again.
“We would be even more aggressive in trying to get the vaccine here as quickly as possible and I would urge all the Bahamians to accept the vaccine because then we would decrease the rate of infection, as was demonstrated throughout the world.”
The first doses of AstraZeneca were expected to arrive in-country by mid-February, though health officials have said they will arrive “soon”.
Minnis added that while the vaccine has not arrived in the country as yet, once it arrives, “we will arrange for the police or defense force to escort the vaccine to its proper final location and we would arrange for 24-hour security by the defense force”.
Health officials confirmed 12 new cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas on Thursday, taking the number of cases in the country to 8,519. Of those cases, six were on New Providence and six on Grand Bahama.
There are currently 15 cases hospitalized, of which 13 are moderately ill and two are in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The number of active cases now stands at 978, with 30 new recoveries recorded on Thursday.