NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Some residents in shantytowns throughout New Providence are unaware of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and have yet to take the necessary precautions to reduce its spread locally.
The Bahamas is bracing for further impact of the global pandemic after recording its first confirmed case of the virus, which can cause severe respiratory illness, on Sunday.
When Eyewitness News visited several of those shantytown communities in the Carmichael Road area today, there seemed to be no movement or mobilization from those residents.
There were no signs posted informing individuals of the virus, and how to protect themselves and their community.
In fact, some residents were completely unaware of the global pandemic, while others held either inaccurate or inadequate information.
According to the government’s 2018 New Providence Shantytown Assessment Report, more than 1,400 people live in shantytowns on the country’s main island.
Officials assessed over 400 households, and the Carmichael constituency had the largest representation of such households.
This number is believed to have increased after Hurricane Dorian displaced hundreds of Haitian migrants on Abaco.
In the communities visited today there were limited sources of water, with residents relying mostly on wells or hand pumps.
A team of officials from Rights Bahamas could be seen sharing information with the residents about the virus and preventative measures.
However, Rights Bahamas president Stephanie St. Fleur said this is not enough as the risks the virus poses to those vulnerable communities are too high.
“Everyone who we spoke to says this is the first time they are hearing about it directly,” St. Fleur said.
“Some said they are getting information from social media but people coming personally to them, informing them, no.”
She added that precautionary measures must be implemented right away.
“Since we are in this first phase, especially from the prime minister giving the address, I think they are probably working towards it and working on it,” she added.
“So hopefully between by the end of this week or next week, things will be in place, not just inside these communities but everywhere.”