By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE discontinuance of work permits to people from China amid coronavirus fears creates “an inconvenience for the people-to-people exchange” between that country and The Bahamas, Chinese Ambassador Huang Qinguo said yesterday.
“Some of the (local Chinese-related) projects have been impacted,” he said, adding officials are assessing the extent of the impact.
“Especially the ongoing project of The Pointe is being affected,” he said at a press conference. “Some workers and technicians have not returned to The Bahamas because of the travel ban. We hope these measures can be lifted at an early date to ensure the normal economic trade and cooperation of the two sides.”
His comments echoed similar sentiments made by an embassy spokesman a day earlier.
Up to press time yesterday, there were 1,370 reported deaths from the flu-like virus and over 60,000 confirmed cases around the world. New ways of diagnosing the novel coronavirus prompted reports of the number of cases to soar in recent days, diminishing hope that new cases were beginning to fall.
Nonetheless, Ambassador Qinguo said the health of all Bahamians in China remains “good.” He said officials sent a workforce into Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to make sure foreigners there have the daily necessities.
Ambassador Qinguo hosted yesterday’s press conference to assure people of his government’s effort to stem spread of the disease. He said the government has taken comprehensive and strict measures, including quarantining Wuhan and checking railways, airports and transportation vehicles.
He noted medical professionals are finding increasing success treating people with the disease “using Western medicines and Chinese traditional medicines.”
The number of people cured and discharged has been increasing and the disease has a notably lower fatality rate than other outbreaks of serious diseases this century, including the SARS and Ebola epidemics.
“The recent data have shown that the relevant measures taken by the Chinese government are effective. Also, the data have shown the epidemic is preventable, containable and curable. So don’t worry too much and panic,” said the ambassador.
In late January, health officials announced that non-residents who have visited China in the last 20 days will be denied entry to this country regardless of their nationality and returning residents will be quarantined and monitored for symptoms during an incubation period of 14 days.
On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson said in view 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.”