Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands. (File photo)
By EARYEL BOWLEG
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands estimated the coronavirus quarantine process will cost the government nearly $100,000. Yesterday he pegged the figure for this initiative at $75,000-$85,000 and expects that expense to climb.
He said that the cost accounts for accommodation, food, security, transportation, etc, but does not include the cost of personal protective equipment, explaining that would have been a part of the ministry’s emergency supplies.
Last week, officials said 15 Bahamians were being quarantined but the minister said the number has gone down to 13. Dr Sands did not reveal the quarantine location but said the individuals were being held in a “safe place”.
“Some people are quite comfortable where they are. Some people wish that the accommodation was slightly different but thus far things have worked out quite well,” he said before a Cabinet meeting.
When asked if the accommodation was adequate, the minister expressed confidence in public health officials.
“I believe that the public health team have outlined strategies for all of the islands of The Bahamas that would accommodate any need that would present itself and thus far we have managed to deal with the quarantine quite effectively,” he said.
Last month, officials announced a travel ban on non-residents who had visited China in the past 20 days. Returning residents who had visited China during that period would be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Chinese officials have urged health officials to consider reducing the 20 day timeframe to 14 days.
Meanwhile, Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson said in light of the deadly virus, work permits will not be granted to anyone coming from China as one person could “wreak havoc” in the Bahamas. He did not say how long this policy will remain in place.
Mr Johnson said: “We have 100,000 square miles to protect. Tourism represents more than 50 percent of our gross domestic product, not only that, we have to protect the inhabitants of The Bahamas.”