NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The COVID-19 positive passenger who was repatriated to Grand Bahama last week, reportedly misrepresented himself at the check-in counter at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Eyewitness News understands.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed the patient was among the group of 183 Bahamians against protocol for returning residents in a national address on Sunday.
Minnis revealed that the man, who has not been identified, traveled to Grand Bahama on Friday, on the second repatriation flight of the day, along with 94 other passengers.
The flight made a stop in Grand Bahama, where 51 people disembarked, before making its way to New Providence where the remaining 44 passengers disembarked.
In an interview with Eyewitness News today, Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey insisted that COVID-19 positive passenger was well-informed” prior to the flight that he would not be allowed to travel, along with anyone in his Florida-based household.
“They were informed by the consulate’s office,” Treco-Mackey explained.
“They were informed by the doctor’s office and there was an appointment scheduled for this week to have him retested, because this week would have been two weeks since the first test was taken, therefore 14 days would have passed.
“…This was explained to the family.
“We told the whole family, whoever was in the household, no one can travel from the household. It’s to protect the safety of all the other passengers.”
She added that the passenger was also called the night before the flight by a physician and once again advised why he was not allowed to travel.
“No one would imagine that someone would be so bold and so selfish and so sure,” she said.
Asked how he was able to board the flight, Treco-Mackey advised that despite denials from officials, he somehow managed to receive approval by “someone on the ground at the airport who was unaware that he had tested positive”.
“He was not on the manifest,” she continued.
“He was not approved to travel. No government agency had him on their list as approved to travel.”
Pressed on where the breakdown in protocol happened, Treco-Mackey confirmed that he was approved to board the flight at the check-in counter.
“Somebody assumed that he was okay to travel and did not seek further approval,” she said.
“…It was just a poor judgment of not seeking further approval from those who would have known and it was unintentional.
“The person never would have never imagined that someone would show up to an airport who tested positive, after being forewarned.”
While she could not indicate whether the person lied about their COVID-19 status upon presentation to the counter, Treco-Mackey noted, “We just know that he was not upfront, advising them of his status. And we were not at liberty to let Bahamasair know anyone who was tested because of confidentiality.”
The COVID-19 patient was not discovered until passengers disembarked in Freeport, and officials found that the number of people exceeded the number of those approved.
The man reportedly traveled to the island with three other passengers, according to the prime minister.
Minnis advised that all four of these individuals were tested again on arrival and the test results are pending.
Concerns have arisen over the level of contact the patient could have had with the remaining Bahamians who traveled on those repatriation flights that day.
Officials however suspect that the patient may be low risk, given that his two-week quarantine period would have ended this week.
“We are hoping his test result is negative, which means that he would have past the contagious period,” Treco-Mackey said.
Of those returnees, 124 individuals are in-home quarantine and 59 are in government quarantine.
As a result of a break down in the first repatriation flight, the prime minister also advised that all repatriation flights have been suspended until further notice.