NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands has confirmed that several NGOs who were providing aid in The Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian have had to return to their home county.
This comes as countries around the world work to tackle the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Nearly six months ago Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm to hit the Northwest Bahamas, devastated both Grand Bahama and Abaco, debilitating the government’s ability to deliver health care services.
In the aftermath of the storm, several international organizations, including Samaritan’s Purse, sent volunteers to assist with the delivery of health care.
Additionally, organizations like World Central Kitchen and the World Food Pragramme were helping with food distribution.
“We have had a number of NGO’s had to leave because they got the call from their governments to come home and that has created a challenge,” Sands said, when he appeared on a recent episode of Beyond the Headlines with Clint Watson.
“World Central Kitchen was helping us with feeding persons in Grand Bahama, they were recalled, so now we have to carry that load for ourselves.
“We understand. I don’t mean to trivialize this but its every man for himself and God for us all.
“Each country now has to stand and be prepared to defend itself. Defend itself not against another armed enemy, but against this tiny thing of genetic material which has wreaked havoc around the world, which has killed some 14,000 people.”
The World Health Organization has officially declared the spread of the virus a pandemic.
The respiratory illness which is in the same family as SARS and even more contagious, has spread to over 120 countries.
The Bahamas has confirmed five cases of the virus to date – four in New Providence, one in Grand Bahama.
Sands has insisted that the government is currently building capacity with test kits, masks, ventilators and beds to ensure that they are able to handle whatever happens.
The government has implemented a 24-hour curfew and border shutdown among additional measures to manage the spread.