RBDF expands “bubble” concept on vessels, training
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — More than 200 marines in the Royal Bahamas Defence Force have been infected with COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic in The Bahamas, according to RBDF Commodore Raymond King.
To date, there remain 56 active cases.
Around 70 marines remain in quarantine following exposures.
During the first wave of the virus, which spanned from mid-March to the end of June, the defense force recorded one COVID-19 case, King said.
“The COVID situation is a microcosm of society,” he said.
“Our contact tracing leaders [found] most of the exposure happen to be ashore, persons’ family members and a lot of service members are married to other essential workers who also work on the frontline.”
King said: “I won’t seek to discount the work of our medical team, who have done a wonderful job because we are experiencing recovery rates in the 90 percent and above.
“We are managing our situation well and it has to be because when you think about a particular vessel which has a crew of 50 persons, and if someone is exposed, and ships are built for close living quarters, and you could see how quickly the numbers could increase.”
King said the defense force will continue its bubble concept for new recruits, training exercises, and crew members being deployed out to sea for patrols.
All incoming recruits are tested and quarantined for two weeks.
Crew members being deployed are also tested and monitored before deployment.
“You want to test them, keep them in a bubble, ensure they are not symptomatic before we deploy persons, and then try to preserve the integrity of them being not symptomatic or being COVID positive among their crew members,” the commodore said.
“That is what will be done and that is what will be enhanced with future recruits and exercises as we would have spoken to this on several occasions.
“Lessons were learned and we’re seeking to strengthen those procedures.”
In August, 46 new recruits and eight instructors were infected with COVID-19.
An instructor was the source of the spread.
According to King, while the recruits were kept in a bubble, the instructors were not and one was exposed to the virus.
Those new recruits have since graduated and joined the frontlines, he said.