Turnquest says exposure risk is “minimal at best”

Turnquest says exposure risk is “minimal at best”

Prime minister and deputy prime minister report feeling ‘well’ in quarantine

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest yesterday said the likelihood that he or the prime minister were directly exposed to COVID-19 is “minimal at best”.

Turnquest and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis went into self-quarantine after the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre, which houses their offices, was closed for deep cleaning and sanitization due to exposure to COVID-19, according to the Cabinet Office.

It said there was no confirmation that either Minnis or Turnquest was exposed to the virus, but they will remain quarantined until further instructions from the Ministry of Health.

Turnquest, who has been working from home, spoke to Eyewitness News via Zoom.

“Fortunately, for both myself and the prime minister we are not showing any signs of sickness or any symptoms in respect to this,” he said.

“The likelihood that we were affected is minimal at best.”

He wished those who have contracted the virus well, and empathized with their plight.

In an interview with ZNS on Tuesday, the prime minister also said he was feeling well.

Minnis said he was advised that an individual in the office complex tested positive and staff members may have communicated with the individual and subsequently entered his office.

“And therefore, out of an abundance of caution they just asked me to quarantine until further notice,” Minnis said.

“I feel 100 percent fit, well. I followed doctor’s orders, came home and since I was unable to exercise I just completed coming off of the treadmill, ensuring that I stayed in shape to continue to guide us through this COVID infection or pandemic.”

He added: “This may possibly be the will of the Lord, so the entire Bahamas can understand what COVID is about and what the pandemic is about and maybe the Lord is sending the message informing The Bahamas that COVID is real and the pandemic is real and it can affect anybody.”

The Cabinet Office encouraged other employees of the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre to self-quarantine until further instructions were issued by the Ministry of Health.

It said: “The Ministry of Health’s Surveillance Unit has initiated contact tracing to determine the level of exposure to employees and visitors to the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre.”

The Bahamas has undergone a surge of cases in recent weeks.

In the first wave, which spanned from mid-March to the end of June, the country recorded 104 COVID-19 cases, a stark contrast to the 932 cases recorded since July 1 when the country reopened its borders to international commercial carriers.

Yesterday, another 47 COVID-19 cases were confirmed, taking the total confirmed number of cases to 1,036.

Other government institutions have also been affected by the virus.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Works on Thompson Boulevard, the Ministry of Health’s headquarters on Meeting Street, and the Public Hospitals Authority’s corporate offices on Third Terrace were also closed for deep cleaning following exposure to COVID-19.

Those buildings are expected to reopen next week Monday.

This is the second time the deputy prime minister has had to quarantine at home in the last month.

Turnquest tested for the virus after his police aide in Grand Bahama tested positive.

Turnquest, who travelled to the island on July 12-14, tested negative.

Out of an abundance of caution, Turnquest voluntarily entered self-quarantine and worked remotely from home.