OUTBREAK: Marines on three RBDF vessels quarantined after positive cases confirmed

OUTBREAK: Marines on three RBDF vessels quarantined after positive cases confirmed

28 defense force officers quarantined on Abaco after two test positive

Cases appear to be unvaccinated, says commodore

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Marines aboard three Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) vessels and another 28 marines stationed on Abaco have had to quarantine after exposures to the coronavirus were confirmed among several officers, RBDF Commodore Dr Raymond King said yesterday.

“The way the vessels are constructed, persons live in close quarters, and so we are experiencing a surge in terms of where one or two persons onboard the various vessels, if they test positive, it requires us to quarantine the entire crew,” said King.

“So, that affects us adversely in terms of having ships available to defend the borders and to be crewed up.

“Suffice to say that we have had a few ships where you have had one or two cases on board, with consequent quarantine and a number of persons who also serve as crew members onboard those vessels.”

Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commodore Dr Raymond King.

Asked how many vessels remain, King said: “All the affected vessels are alongside. Persons who would have been confirmed as testing positive, they are being treated and the crew is [in] quarantine.”

He said ongoing contact tracing will determine who may have had close contact with the impacted officers and would be quarantined as a precaution and in accordance with health protocols.

He said within five days, the quarantined marines will be tested, and if cleared, they will return to the vessels and those who test positive will be replaced, to allow the vessels to return to the frontlines on the borders.

Asked if the source of the outbreak was traced, King said he was unable to say at this time.

However, he noted that those who have contracted the virus are “evidently persons who have not been vaccinated as yet”.

According to King, a large number of marines have been vaccinated in the last six weeks, but the percentage of RBDF officers vaccinated to date remains unclear.

He did not wish to pinpoint which specific vessels had been impacted by COVID outbreaks.

The commodore said as the RBDF is impacted, it continues to work closely with the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Mobile Unit, the US Coast Guard and Operation Bahamas and Turks and Caicos (OPBAT) to patrol the borders.

As it relates to Abaco, the commodore said there were two confirmed COVID-19 cases among the officers around a week ago, and out of caution, the deployment of marines of the island were quarantined.

“They’re fairly close and taking consideration and being cautious, I required the remaining members to be quarantined,” King said.

“And so, while it may have only been two persons who tested positive, it resulted in the remaining team members, some 28 persons, having to be quarantined for a period of time, just to see if anyone else would have showed up with any symptoms before the quarantine ceases.

“It wasn’t a large number of persons who tested positive.

“The main impact for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force is the numbers who are actually quarantined as a consequence.”

According to the commodore, police officers on the island continue to maintain safety and security, noting that the Royal Bahamas Police Force has “beefed up” presence on the island.

Asked if protocols could be changed on Abaco as a consequence, King said there are still plans to change the location of the Abaco temporary base to better accommodate officers, but that process was ongoing.

He said: “We aim to have that done by year’s end, to change our location.

“There is nothing wrong with the protocols. It is a matter of persons being responsible.

“They understand what is required. They have to stay disciplined and they have to stay responsible.”

About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.