NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of Health Renward Wells said health officials continue to closely monitor the new strain of coronavirus surging in parts of the United Kingdom as numerous other jurisdictions issue bans on flights from Britain.
New variants of the virus have emerged since the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, China, in December.
The Bahamas will not have direct flights from the UK until February 2021.
“We do know that it is about 50 percent more transmissible than the current virus,” Wells told the media.
“It is not more virulent. I should say that. It is not more deadly than the current COVID that we are experiencing, though it transmits much more readily, much more easily.
“But we have had other strains of COVID also.
“If you remember back in February, March, in Italy there was a particular strain — a strain that was in Italy that was extremely infectious as well.
“The government of The Bahamas, the Ministry of Health, is keeping an eye on the circumstances in the UK. Currently, I do not believe we have any direct flights from the UK.
“I think those flights are supposed to start again in February.
“So, we’re observing it. We’re seeking to ensure we maintain the health protocols that we have in place — that anyone who is coming into the country has to take the RT-PCR test before they come in.
“So, we are seeking to deal with this particular strain at the borders.”
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield said: “Right now we don’t have any flight direct from the United Kingdom.
“Whatever the Cabinet determines to do will be directed by the health professionals.
“The technical people who are responsible for health, the management of COVID, they will advise the government and the government will act accordingly.
“The Bahamas is no exception, but in the moment we are still looking at what advice we will get [from] the health people.
“Cabinet meets today and we will see what determination may come from that.”
A host of nations have banned flights from Britain, while France has barred the entry of trucks from Britain for 48 hours while the strain is assessed.
Over the weekend, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed strict lockdown measures in London and neighboring areas where health officials have said the new strain is “out of control”.
According to researchers and early evidence, the strain is not more lethal, and it is believed the existing vaccinations being rolled out will still be effective against it.
Speaking to Eyewitness News on Monday, former Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands said he expects The Bahamas will follow suit with several other jurisdictions and impose restrictions against travelers from the United Kingdom.