Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest.
By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
FOLLOWING the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases on Grand Bahama, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest is urging residents to keep their “guard up”’
He said it is important that residents strictly adhere to the COVID-19 protocols to stop the spread of the virus. Six cases were recorded within one week on the island, while the country recorded seven cases overall last week. Health officials are conducting contact tracing.
Three new cases were recorded on Saturday. They are all females, including a 16-year-old girl and a 39-year-old woman, both with a history of travel; and a 47-year-old woman with no history of travel.
A 27-year-old Grand Bahama man also tested positive on Thursday, July 9; and on Wednesday, July 8, two people - a 33-year-old woman with no history of travel, and a 20-year-old undocumented male migrant tested positive for COVID-19. Officials announced on Friday, July 10, that a 40-year-old New Providence man with a history of travel had also tested positive.
All the cases are in isolation. This brings the Bahamas’ total cases to 111.
It is not clear how recently the cases with a history of travel went overseas. As fewer coronavirus cases have emerged, Ministry of Health press conferences have become less frequent and officials have become less responsive to questions from the press. The last press conference was 11 days ago. The Tribune understands one is expected sometime this week.
When contacted on Sunday, Mr Turnquest noted that the combination of cases with a history of travel as well as what appears to be community spread, is a particular concern. However, he is confident that health officials are on top of it.
“Fortunately, the Bahamas has one of the best contact tracing units in the region and the health professionals will no doubt get a handle on the situation in short order,” he said.
Mr Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama, said residents must do their part to stop the spread.
“We must help them, however, by doing our part by reintroducing heightened vigilance and personal safety protocols. This spike in new cases should remind all of us that the virus is still present with us here as well as in foreign lands we may be eager to visit for shopping or vacation. We must always keep our guard up,” he stated.
“I encourage residents to pay strict attention to the Ministry of Health protocols; wear masks at all times when outside your home, avoid public spaces where you may not be able to maintain the recommended 6ft distancing; avoid crowds and places where your inhibitions may be weakened and tempted to ignore the protocols, do not speak to or allow people to speak to you without a mask, wash hands regularly, etc.
“Unfortunately, I see too many Bahamians congregating in places without masks and being undisciplined in their behaviour. This is not helpful,” he said.
Mr Turnquest noted that “in order to return to a steady state of no new cases, we each have to do our part to be vigilant as we go about our business.” He urged Bahamians to be safe.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson also said Grand Bahama residents cannot afford to let their guards down.
“We should all be very concerned. This is six cases in the last few days. This is a wake up call to all those who believed we could ease the social distancing restrictions. I make a plea to all Grand Bahama businesses to ensure they comply with the law. Everyone must wear masks. Those persons returning from international travel must abide by quarantine rules,” Mr Thompson said.
According to the latest Ministry of Health dashboard, there are 11 active cases and 89 recovered COVID-19 cases. Eleven people have died from the disease while 2,531 tests have been completed.