PLP labels PM’s assertion “divisive and contradictory”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday suggested people previously infected with COVID-19 have an immunity to the virus for several months in a dig at the opposition leader’s decision not to attend Parliament.
Minnis called the decision unfortunate, and further noted Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis had recovered from COVID-19, and should be immune and one of the safest people in The Bahamas.
It was confirmed Tuesday morning that a House of Assembly staffer tested positive for the virus, prompting deep cleaning and sanitization of the House.
Minnis said: “Under no circumstances would the government nor myself place any Bahamian or even legislative in any form of danger.
“I have been in constant communication with the medical professionals and have been assured of the protocols.
“As you (speaker of the House) stated, we carry on with the protocols as the medical professionals would have advised us.
“…It is unfortunate that the leader of the opposition is not here.
“We all know that the leader of the opposition had COVID, and the leader of the opposition has antibodies.
“So, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the opposition is immune.
“He is the most safest in this country at this time.
“He is immune and that immunity may last for three to six months; we don’t know the duration.
“But what we do know is that he is the safest in this country at this time, so it’s unfortunate that he’s not here.”
The statement drew rebuke from the Progressive Liberal Party.
In a statement Tuesday, the Cabinet Office advised that anyone who came into contact with the infected House staffer for more than 15 minutes without following preventative measures such as wearing a mask and maintaining a physical distance will be required to quarantine.
The Cabinet Office also advised of deep cleaning at the House and the initiation of contact tracing.
On Tuesday night, the Leader of Opposition Business in the House Picewell Forbes said a decision was made for official opposition members not to attend as it would send the wrong message to the Bahamian people and “potentially expose House members to an unnecessary risk”.
According to Forbes, Davis attempted to reach the prime minister concerning the resumption of Parliament, but was unsuccessful.
He said the opposition leader also sent a note to the prime minister on the matter at the time of the release, but got no response.
Forbes noted health protocols, adding: “The key is to counter any potential chain of transmission into the community.”
Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie deemed all members present for yesterday’s session.
At least 16 MPs attended, along with support staff and House Chaplain Pastor Dave Burrows.
Moultrie also advised that he and House Chief Clerk David Forbes tested negative for the virus.
In a statement Wednesday, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said labeled the prime minister’s comments as” divisive and contradictory” and called on Minnis to clarify.
He pointed out that emergency orders require returning residents to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival — a requirement Davis was adhering to since returning to The Bahamas from the United States last week Friday.
Davis, who tested positive for COVID-19 last month and was receiving treatment in The Bahamas, flew to the United States to be closer to his daughter.
He said Davis claims “no special privileges” and has stuck to the rules.
“The public would be entitled to think the prime minister must have lost his right-thinking mind to now speak out of both sides of his mouth,” said Mitchell, noting that the competent authority — the prime minister — signed the emergency orders.