TIMELINE: Eyes on COVID-19 in The Bahamas

TIMELINE: Eyes on COVID-19 in The Bahamas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — It has been just over four months since The Bahamas recorded its first case of the new novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 15.

To date, there have been 104 cases of COVID-19 throughout the archipelago, including 11 deaths. Of the number, there were 82 confirmed cases on New Providence, eight on Grand Bahama, 13 on Bimini, and one in Cat Cay.

The country remains on a 9pm – 5am curfew, with stricter social distancing policies rolled back as it prepares for the reopening of the economy on July 1.

Below is a live timeline of the virus’ track to the country’s shores, its impact, and response efforts.

  • June

    • 30 – Atlantis delays reopening to July 30 due to U.S. COVID surge. Bahamas left off EU ‘safe list’. Baha Mar begins the first wave of layoffs.
    • 29 – A legal oversight led to the expiration of the Governor General’s state of emergency declaration. Governor-General issues new COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration. Bahamasair scraps social distancing on flights. UB holds virtual 2020 commencement ceremony
    • 28 – During a national address ahead of the country’s reopening on July 1, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis begged Bahamians and residents to reconsider any non-essential travel abroad and encouraged domestic travel instead. Unemployment Benefit extended to 26-weeks.
    • 26 – Health officials suggest the slowed rate of testing was a reflection of reduced cases
    • 25 – Moody’s lowered the country’s credit rating two notches from Baa3 to Ba2 with a negative outlook. The Bahamas will lift travel restrictions from previously excluded countries, including China, Europe’s bloc of countries, the Republic of Korea and Iran on July 1.
    • 24 – Royal Bahamas Police Force clamping down on roadside vendors. Economic Recovery Committee set to deliver final report in early September
    • 22 – Nearly 140,000 people assisted with emergency food aid. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the national nightly curfew has been pushed back by one hour and public parks and beaches on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Bimini will reopen on June 29.
    • 19 – Atlantis’ Cove reopens July 14. Negative COVID-19 test valid up to 10 days for returning residents. Bahamas absent from urgent UN debate on racism, police brutality
    • 18 – Suspected COVID-19 patient lands in Exuma, airlifted to NP
    • 17 – Govt. to spend up to $16 million on virtual learning, smart schools. Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar announced the government will require a negative COVID-19 test for all people entering the country after July 1. UK National Health Service approves Dexamethasone COVID-19 treatment. Bahamas joins IDB ‘innovation challenge’. Public school teachers not required to invigilate national exams
    • 16 – Health officials maintained their recommendation that all people entering The Bahamas must be tested prior to entry. Union sounds alarm as another hotel postpones reopening. RBC unveils second phase of COVID-19 relief
    • 15 – The first phase of the government’s tourism reopening began with stakeholders testing the market. Bahamas enters Phase 4 of the government’s opening of the economy.
    • 14- The Melia Nassau Beach Resort pushed its reopening date to October. COVID-19 case #104 was recorded in New Providence after a six-day lull – patient with a history of travel.
    • 12 – Baha Mar postponed reopening until October.  Restaurants with outdoor seating only, including Arawak Cay & Potter’s Cay Dock reopened for business
    • 11 – 80 Bahamian nationals and residents returned home from the United Kingdom, various European countries and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Cuba
    • 10 – Atlantis announced it will begin its phased reopening on July 7. Sandals Resorts announced reopening dates for its various hotels – Sandals Exuma is slated for July 2 and Sandals Royal Bahamian for November 1.
    •  Health officials acknowledge the curve has been flattened – for now. Some public school teachers return to classrooms.
    • 9 – British Colonial Hilton makes nearly 30 workers redundant
    • 8 – Domestic flights commence at Lynden Pindling International Airport. Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd defends the government’s decision to move forward with National Exams
    • 7 – Churches reopen in New Providence. Ministry of the Environment and Housing issue guidelines on how buildings, offices, and classrooms are to be cleaned prior to persons returning to work.
    • 6 – A 52-year-old woman tested positive for COVID-19 in New Providence, taking the number of cases to 103.
    • 4 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced the end to weekend lockdowns and outlined further relaxations of the COVID-19 emergency order. Minnis took questions from the media for the first time since April. He also deflected questions over the circumstances that led to the resignation of former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
    • 1 – The Office of the Prime Minister announced the end of the government’s COVID-19 Travel Card Programme
  • May

    • 29 – Case #102 recorded in New Providence.
    • 28 – The country moved into ‘Phase 3’ of the government’s plan to re-open the economy, reducing curfew hours and relaxing restrictions on several sectors. Case #101, an 80-year-old man, recorded in New Providence
    • 27 – The government passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency and Emergency Regulations to June 29. China donates medical supplies to The Bahamas.
    • 26 – Haiti emerges as COVID-19 outbreak spot in the region. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced plans to resume sailings onboard the Grand Celebration July 25.
    • 25 – School final exams canceled. The government begins remotely monitoring quarantined individuals. No new COVID-19 cases in Bimini after two-week lock lockdown. COVID-19 unemployment program extended to July 1. Popular Italian restaurant Luciano’s announced permanent closure.
    • 23 – COVID-19 cases hit 100. Law firms and Justices of Peace allowed to resume limited operation.
    • 22 – Churches on the reopened Family Islands allowed to resume worship services, churches on opened islands allowed drive-up services
    • 21 – No active COVID-19 cases in Grand Bahama. 50-year-old man confirmed as case #97.
    • 19 – Ministry of Tourism cancels summer festivals for 2020. Bimini begins two-week lockdown period
    • 18 – A group of seven Bahamians were repatriated from Kingston, Jamaica, without being tested for COVID-19.
    • 17 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis unveiled the COVID-19 travel card program for interisland travel. Minnis also announced the resumption of commercial activity on Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros. Gaming houses eye legal challenge to COVID-19 regulations.
    • 15 – Hubbcat contracted to monitor quarantined individuals.
    • 14 – Two additional confirmed COVID-19 cases on Bimini. Total number of cases rise to 96. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announces two-week lockdown for Bimini
    • 13 – COVID-19 case #94 confirmed in New Providence – 41-year-old man. Baha Mar not impacted by global Hyatt layoffs.
    • 11 – 88-year-old woman confirmed as COVID-19 case #93
    • 10 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis gives a National Address, predicts the country’s unemployment to climb to more than 30 percent. Minnis also confirmed a total of 12 people had entered the country amid the strict border lockdown. Western Air updates safety precautions. An investigation launched to determine how a man who previously tested positive for COVID-19 was allowed to return with a group of 183 Bahamians and residents.
    • 8 – Bahamians return home
    • 7 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis absent from the first press conference as a temporary Health Minister. Sandals announced plans to reopen its Royal Bahamian and Emerald Bay properties on July 1. Health officials unable to find 12 quarantined individuals
    • 6 – Student nurses fast-tracked to work on COVID-19 frontlines. Three COVID-19 cases confirmed on New Providence taking number to 92.
    • 5 – The Cabinet Office announced that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will “temporarily” assume the position of Health Minister following the resignation of Dr. Duane Sands. Additional five cases of COVID-19 confirmed in The Bahamas, taking the total number of cases up to 89.
    • 4 – Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands’ tenders resignation. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis accepts. COVID-19 case #84 confirmed in New Providence. Liquor stores offering delivery and curbside pick up allowed to operate
    • 3 – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced the reopening of commercial activity on several Family Islands including -Ragged Island, Rum Cay, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay. Minnis also announced the wider reopening of businesses that can provide delivery or curbside pick-up.
    • 2 – COVID-19 case #83 confirmed in New Providence.
    • 1 – COVID-19 case #82 confirmed in New Providence. Government’s virtual class registrants double to 41,000
  • April

    • 31 – Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands took responsibility for allowing American couple to disembark plane during country lockdown.
      Bahamas to begin clinical trials for COVID-19 treatment.
    • 30 – The Nassau Guardian published an article revealing two Americans – who are permanent residents –were allowed into the country amid border shutdown. China makes third donation of COVID-19 medical supplies
    • 29 -More than 400 Bahamians in U.S. registered to return home
    • 28 – NIB processes more than 20,000 unemployment claimsMore than 50 percent of exposed healthcare workers test negative
    • 27 – The government passed a resolution to extend the state of emergency to May 30. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reveals the government’s five-phase plan to reopen economy. Minnis also unveiled a rental assistance deferred payment program. The prime minister also announced the government will facilitate the return of more than 200 Bahamians. Individuals in quarantine who breach the self-quarantine requirements could be fined $20,000 and/or imprisoned for five years.
    • 26 – COVID-19 cases climb to 80 after two additional confirmed cases. The prime minister appoints COVID-19 Economic Recovery Committee
    • 25 – Five more cases confirmed in Bimini taking the number of COVID-19 cases to 78.  Mass COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers
    • 23 – Two men in their 50s die of COVID-19. More than 200 healthcare workers in quarantine. COVID19 testing increases in Bimini.
    • 22 – PMH suspends visitation. University of The Bahamas changes admissions policy for Fall/Spring terms. Coronavirus cases hit 70
    • 21 – OPM launches platform for COVID-19 response suggestions. Four more COVID-19 cases in New Providence taking the number to 64.
    • 20 – There are 64 cases. PMH closes a surgical ward after a patient tested positive for COVID-19. Chinese Embassy in The Bahamas assures safety of Bahamian students in China are being protected amid reports of increased racism
    • 19 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis reopens construction in the unaffected Family Islands, appeals to businesses to hold off on layoffs. Bahamas Carnival 2020 canceled, new date May 2021.
    • 16 – COVID-19 death toll climbs to nine. S&P downgrades the country’s credit rating to junk status. Nearly 900 people in quarantine. Dorian National Service of Remembrance is postponed.
    • 15 – Healthcare workers will receive a $5,000 honorarium and $100,000 life insurance policy. WHO recommends easing restrictions in low case countries. Anglican Diocese has lays off 66 workers.
    • 14 – PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper unveils the National Progressive Institute COVID-19 response plan.
    • 13 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis pledges to join healthcare workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle if necessary, announces food security task force. Officials consider new tech for widespread testing.
    • 12 – One case of COVID-19 found on Cat Cay.
    • 10 – A shipment of COVID-19 medical supplies that had been blocked by the U.S. is released today. Schools remain closed until further notice. National Insurance Board pays out some $5.34 million over more than 11,000 unemployment benefit claims.
    • 9 – Hydroxychloroquine not approved for COVID-19 treatment. John Bull furloughs workers.
    • 8 – Officials project COVID-19 cases to double by Easter Weekend. Panicked shoppers swarm food stores. A patient tests positive for COVID-19 posthumously.
    • 7 – Wendy’s worker tests positive for COVID-19 – location sanitized, reopened. Chinese embassy in The Bahamas dismisses the COVID-19 lawsuit accusing the Chinese government of seeking to weaponize virus.
    • 6 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis warns asymptomatic COVID-19 “super spreaders” can infect thousands, and announces a six-day complete lockdown for Easter holiday. AG Carl Bethel says the government’s goal is to have the economy reopen in two months.
    • 5 – Ministry of Health provides a definition for “recovered cases“. PM releases food shopping schedule. First physician dies in COVID-19 fight: Veteran nephrologist Dr Judson Frazier Eneas.
    • 3 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announces complete lockdown until April 6. Doctors Hospital shutdown for deep cleaning after COVID-19 exposure.
    • 2 – Three more cases confirmed, the youngest patient is nine years old.
    • 1- Six new cases confirmed in New Providence. Suspected COVID-19 patient is confirmed positive.
  • March

    • 31 – New case on Grand Bahama brings the total number of cases on the island to three.
    • 30 – Suspected COVID-19 Bimini patient dies after airlift to capital.
    • 29 – Three more cases are confirmed in New Providence.
    • 28 – A 35-year-old woman with no recent travel history tested positive for COVID-19 in Grand Bahama.
    • 27 – Another case is confirmed in New Providence. There are now nine cases in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama
    • 26 – Four additional cases are confirmed on New Providence, bringing the total number of cases to nine. Health officials say country experiencing a “surge“.
    • 24 – A fifth COVID-19 case is confirmed in Grand Bahama. The patient has no relevant travel history.
    • 23 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced a 24-hour curfew and border shutdown among additional measures that expand the emergency powers regulations
    • 22 – Health officials announced that they had tested 117 people for the virus.
    • 21 – The judiciary expands its COVID-19 protocols, after reducing court operations just a few days prior.
    • 20 – Fourth case of COVID-19 confirmed in the country.
    • 19 – Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced emergency orders activating partial nationwide shutdown and nightly curfew.
    • 18 – The government tables emergency COVID-19 regulations. The prime minister confirmed two more cases of COVID-19 in the country.
    • 17 – Governor-General CA Smith signs a proclamation declaring a public state of emergency.
    • 16 – Bahamas Carnival 2020 is postponed. San Salvador’s Club Med temporarily suspends its operations. The Bahamas Department of Corrections suspended visitations, commissaries, and all public activities. Braemar cruise ship sets sail for Cuba, where its passengers were flown home.
    • 15 – Officials announce the country’s first case of COVID-19: a 61-year-old Bahamian woman with no recent travel history. Prince George Dock closed as cruise lines world-wide suspended their operations amid the pandemic. The US Embassy canceled immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments indefinitely. Officials also announced the closure of all schools.
    • 14 – Braemar cruise ship carrying five persons who tested positive for COVID-19 arrived in Bahamian waters but was not allowed to dock.
    • 13 – Bahamas records its first case of COVID-19. Sands confirms the date during a Parliamentary address next month.
    • 12 – The country withdrew from hosting this year’s General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).
    • 11 – WHO officially classified the global spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic. CMO and ORG director named co-chairs of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19. Healthcare professionals ran out of the Fleming Street clinic and abandoned an ill-patient over coronavirus fears.
    • 5 – The government expanded COVID-19 travel restrictions to deny entry to non-residents that have traveled to Iran, South Korea, and Italy. MOH began training for possible cases.
    • 4 – The government announced plans to use an additional $4 million from the Contingency Fund to support the MOH COVID-19 response. The Quarantine (Novel Coronavirus “2019-NCOV”) Order is tabled, declaring China an “infected place” for six months.
    • 1 – PM Minnis said disease represents a grave threat, announces the national coordinating committee. 50 COVID-19 test kits in-country, and more being ordered.
  • February

    • 28 – Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) raised the risk of coronavirus disease transmission in the region from “moderate to high”
    • 11 – WHO announced its official name for the virus as “COVID-19”, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.
    • 4 – MOH enacted its Novel Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan (NCPRP).
  • January

    • 30 – The government implemented an immediate travel ban, restricting all travel from China. China had confirmed nearly 10,000 cases.
    • 23 – Chinese government locked down Wuhan – believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak – and cut all transport into and out of the city.
    • 20 – MOH announced it was monitoring a coronavirus outbreak in China. This came just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) advised that its China Country office was monitoring cases of pneumonia of “unknown cause” detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China.

Read about the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak here.