NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday the government’s decision to abandon antigen testing of travelers upon arrival in The Bahamas removes an “important protection” and represents an “increase risk to Bahamians”.
“Governance requires certainty and a steady hand, not multiple reversals within several days,” Davis said in a statement.
“We have a lot of concerns.
“The first and most important is the health of the Bahamian people.
“The elimination of the rapid testing upon arrival in The Bahamas appears to remove an important protection.
“Rapid tests are not perfect, but catching some infections is surely better than catching none as visitors enter the country.
Effective Sunday, the international travel policy removes the proposed rapid antigen testing and the mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival.
All travelers must obtain a health visa, negative RT-PCR test, and are required to take a rapid antigen test on the fifth day if they remain in-country.
If the antigen test is positive, the individual will be required to follow up with an RT PCR COVID-19 test.
Davis questioned when the decision was made to change the new travel regime announced weeks ago, and why the prime minister did not announce the revision when he addressed the media during a press conference last Wednesday.
He said hotels and other tourism partners deserve “full transparency and ample notice”
“Did he not have the courage or ability to defend the new policies to reporters?” Davis asked.
Davis said there is a collective desire to successfully open the tourism sector, but the government has a responsibility to protect its citizenry who will interact with visitors.
He expressed concern about a rapid rise in infections, insisting that with record cases being recorded in the United States “this seems like a time to increase our vigilance.”
He also questioned the decision to remove rapid antigen testing upon arrival, but to retain the antigen test on the fifth day.
“How does this make sense? Davis asked.
“Is the rapid antigen test a useful screening tool, in the government’s view, or not?
“We note also that should a visitor taking this test on the fifth-day tests positive, they are allowed to quarantine in place if asymptomatic.
“But asymptomatic individuals are still infectious.
“Where are the protocols and support for hotels to protect hotel staff?
“Has the government stopped worrying about community spread, or the dangers to our doctors and nurses on the frontlines?
“Trust is essential in a public health crisis, but this government inspires none.”