PM has instructed MOFA probe into how COVID-19 passenger boarded repatriation flight

PM has instructed MOFA probe into how COVID-19 passenger boarded repatriation flight
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (FILE PHOTO)

Passenger in question was explicitly denied permission to travel prior to flight

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate how a passenger infected with the novel coronavirus was able to board a the repatriation flight  from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport, Grand Bahama last Friday.

In a statement, the ministry said: “The prime minister has asked that this matter be treated with priority. Accordingly, the ministry is presently conducting enquiries into all matters surrounding the incident and will report its findings to the prime minister on completion.”

Eyewitness News understands the male passenger misrepresented himself at the check-in counter at the airport in Fort Lauderdale.

During a national address on Sunday, the prime minister said it was discovered after the aircraft landed that one COVID-19 positive passenger was on the flight and three other passengers were potentially exposed.

He said the four individuals, who wore protective equipment, were tested again on arrival and officials were awaiting their results.

He said all passengers on the flight remain in quarantine and will continue to be monitored.

In an interview with Eyewitness News on Monday, Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey, who returned to The Bahamas with the nearly 190 Bahamians, said the passenger in question somehow managed to gain approval from “someone on the ground at the airport” who was unaware that he had previously tested positive for the virus.

She said prior to the flight the man was informed at the consulate’s office that he nor anyone in his household in Florida could travel to protect the safety of the other passengers.

She said an appointment was scheduled this week to have the man retested — two weeks since the first test was taken.

According to Treco-Mackey, a physician once again contacted the man  the night before the flight and advised him he was not permitted to travel.

Returning Bahamians and residents were mandated to take a COVID-19 test and have negative results before being allowed to return.

As a result of the breach of protocol, the prime minister suspended the repatriation exercise based on the advice on health officials.

He said the program will resume as soon as health officials advise.

Of the 183 Bahamians and residents who returned to The Bahamas after being stuck outside the country for weeks, 124 were in self-quarantine and 59 were quarantined in a government facility.

They continue to be monitored.