Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar yesterday praised the "excellent" mitigation plan implemented by Sandals Royal Bahamian in the wake of reports a gastrointestinal illness has affected scores of the all-inclusive resort's guests and staff.
Speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet, Mr D'Aguilar said the owners and senior executives of the resort are abreast of the situation and developed a mitigation strategy after eight cases were reported initially.
The tourism minister added outbreaks "will happen from time to time" and said he was "impressed" with the way the executives handled the situation.
He also claimed the number of incidents has declined significantly.
On Monday, Health Minister Duane Sands told The Tribune that "just under 100" people have been affected by the illness, the majority "over the last four or five days".
According to a Ministry of Health statement released the same day, both guests and staff reported "experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea".
"What I can say is that Sandals had an excellent mitigation plan," Mr D'Aguilar said yesterday.
"So when I spoke to the senior executives, the owners of Sandals, and I appraised them of the situation on the ground they said, 'look D'Aguilar, we way ahead of you, we knew about this as it commenced. As soon as we had eight cases we have a mitigation plan, swooped into action, all of our senior executives flew up here from Jamaica,'" Mr D'Aguilar continued.
He added the company's chief operating officer is "on the ground" and was among the executives carrying out the mitigation plan.
"I'm happy to report that the number of incidences has declined significantly and they are on top of the situation," the Free Town MP added.
"So these things will happen from time to time. You'll get an outbreak of this, and an outbreak of that, and as best as possible it's how you react to them," he said.
"And I'm very impressed with the way Sandals jumped on it, moved expeditiously to deal with it, and we're having the positive result that we're having now."
These remarks echoed those of Dr Sands, who told The Tribune on Monday that such occurrences are very common in hotels and cruise ships the world-over.
The Ministry of Health was notified of the Sandals' issue on August 7, according to the statement it released on Monday.
Since then, teams from the Ministry of Health and Department of Environmental Health have made "multiple visits" to the property.
These teams "can report that recommended prevention and control measures have been or are being implemented by hotel management," the statement continued.
"These interventions are consistent with local and international guidelines."
It added many of the cases of gastrointestinal illness were treated by the hotel's healthcare providers and people who required medical attention at local hospitals have been treated and released.
"As of today, the number of cases has decreased significantly. Guests and staff have been advised on the importance of regular hand hygiene, either with soap and water or with alcohol containing sanitisers," the ministry had said earlier.
The ministry reported being "satisfied" with the way the situation is being controlled and said it is not currently aware of any other cluster of cases.