NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas will lift travel restrictions from previously excluded countries, including China, Europe’s bloc of countries, the Republic of Korea and Iran, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
The lifting of the travel ban from these countries will take effect on July 1, when The Bahamas reopens its borders to commercial air carriers.
In addition to health assessments and screening at the points of entry, the government requires all individuals, with some exceptions, to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited facility within 10 days of entry to gain entry into the country.
The test results and ‘Bahamas Health Visa’ must be presented upon arrival.
After flattening the curve in late April, cases of the virus have climbed in South Korea and China more recently.
According to health authorities in Seoul, 51 new infections were confirmed in clusters in the capital while the number of imported cases also rose in the country.
Of the new cases, a reported 20 were imported.
South Korea has confirmed more than 12,500 cases and at least 281 deaths.
Twelve new cases have been reported in China on Tuesday — seven in Beijing, two in the Hubei providence, and three imported — brining the total number of infections in the new outbreak to at least 249, according to the National Health Commission of China.
According to reports, the outbreak has been linked to activities an Xinfadi wholesale food market, which supplies the majority of the capital region’s fresh produce and a selection of meats.
After the first cases were linked to the market on June 11, Beijing authorities swiftly raises response levels and some neighborhoods saw lockdowns resume, as health workers were deployed to perform wide testing of thousands of citizens.
China has confirmed more than 84,000 cases and over 4,600 dead since the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, and the original epicentre of COVID-19.
Global authorities on health have advise countries could see see interspersed outbreaks over the next two years.
Meanwhile, the virus is surging in the United States, Brazil and Russia.
On Wednesday, the US recorded nearly 37,000 new infections — the highest single total so far.
With major spikes in cases, states including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have made the decision to require visitors from several other states with high positive test rates to quarantine for two weeks.
The list includes Florida, which imposed the requirement on New York several months ago.
Notwithstanding The Bahamas’ negative testing requirement, Pan American Health Organization officials have said the method has not proven successful as infected people can still test negatively within the 10-day window.
Local health officials have acknowledged there is no perfect scenario.
Asked whether health officials have recommended for any country to be exclude from travelling to The Bahamas, including the US, Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Programme at the Ministry of Health Dr Nikkiah Forbes
Forbes said health consultants did consider areas where there are high levels of community transmission.
She said: “That information will be considered on an individualized basis with other specific things about the traveler, in addition to where they are from; whether they are having symptoms; what does their COVID test say. So, there is a screening process that comes into play when we look at arrivals.”
The Bahamas continues to enjoy a slowed rate of cases, having only confirmed four new infections since late May.
The flattening of the curve, as acknowledged by health officials, continues to hold notwithstanding the eased restrictions in recent weeks.
There were nine active cases as of yesterday.