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Fake Covid Tests Used By Visitors

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Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis speaks on Tuesday.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH officials say people have tried to enter the Bahamas with fake COVID-19 documents, prompting a police investigation.

Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, coordinator of the government’s COVID-19 task-force, could not say how many people have used fake documents to enter or try to enter the country since the borders were reopened on July 1, but she said during a press conference yesterday that “government officials are on high alert for cases of suspected forgery, tampering or altering of required documents and are prepared to take action if necessary.”

Senior police officials declined to comment on the investigation when contacted yesterday. 

Dr Dahl-Regis also revealed that the country recorded three new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, including a female New Providence resident with a history of travel who is isolating at home and two men in Grand Bahama who are also isolating, bringing the country’s total to 116. 

Although there have been two new cases of COVID-19 on New Providence in the last week, Dr Dahl-Regis said there is insufficient evidence to conclude an outbreak of the virus is happening on the island. Grand Bahama, however, is experiencing an outbreak, having recorded eight new cases in the last six days.

Dr Frank Bartlett, head of Grand Bahama’s COVID-19 task force, said officials have not determined what kind of COVID-19 transmission is happening on the island, be it clusters or community spread.

He said: “At this point in time it’s very hard to say we have established sustained community transmission.”

Asked whether a lockdown of Grand Bahama is being considered, he said: “To make a recommendation, we still have to gather more information. At this point in time it’s too early to say what type of transmission (is occurring). We are dealing with the influx of people bringing disease into the country.”

He said the recent Grand Bahama cases included a 33-year-old unemployed woman who presented to an Accident & Emergency Department with a one day history of headache and diarrhoea; a 21-year-old undocumented immigrant who was intercepted by the US Coast Guard and detained for two days before being brought into the island; a 51-year-old man who was a known contact of a previous case; and a 46-year-old female employed at Pizza Hut who had a history of fatigue, fever, shortness of breath and diarrhea.

He said 26 co-workers of the Pizza Hut employee have been evaluated and five of them have been quarantined. Another recent case is a 27-year-old man with respiratory symptoms and a fever who was in contact with his sister, a woman who returned to the country on a June 30 repatriation flight along with her 16-year-old daughter. Although the policy was that ten-day old negative COVID-19 tests were required for entry to the country, Dr Bartlett said yesterday the women were allowed on the repatriation flight with 12 day old tests. He said they were subsequently quarantined and then re-tested.

Dr Dahl-Regis said during a press conference nearly two weeks ago that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis would shortly announce changes to the 10pm to 5am curfew. However, when he spoke in the House of Assembly last week, the prime minister defended the curfew instead. Dr Dahl-Regis suggested yesterday that Dr Minnis has not yet accepted the recommendation of health officials that the curfew be adjusted.

“We have not changed our recommendations to the prime minister,” she said, “and we still await his final decision as to what he does with those recommendations and it is not really comforting to the health team, given this new outbreak in Grand Bahama, that he is going to be minded to change it but stay tuned, I think he has an update to provide this upcoming weekend.” Dr Minnis is expected to have a national address on Sunday.

Health officials were asked if they are considering banning travel to and from the United States in light of the new COVID-19 cases that have a travel history. Dr Dahl-Regis said this is not the current recommendation.

“We determine the risk category for each applicant for a travel visa rather than have a determination of state by state,” she said. “We use a list as published by the World Health Organization where it’s determined where there is community spread and (if it is) greater than ten percent in the population you get a score. This is a moving target. We’ve had to adjust the risk stratification seven times already. Because the experiences are changing constantly, we have to make the necessary adjustments. What we see at the present time is the spread originating from Bahamians who have travelled to (certain states in the US).”

Health officials said over 350 people are being monitored by Hubbcat, the software that allows authorities to track people who are in quarantine. Twenty-three of the people being monitored are in Grand Bahama. 

Comments

JackArawak 2 months, 1 week ago

and boaters are coming over without checking in, which is not new, but has a new meaning right now. Either the country is open or it's not. Perhaps a couple of shiny new cruise ports will save us

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bahamianson 2 months, 1 week ago

not only fake test, but also, inaccurate test results. Bahamians are ordering the test , having them sent to their place in Florida, whether a home or hotel, and placing the swabs in their nostrils totally missing that right turn at the brain. When this is done, there are not enough cells on the swab to take an accurate test. If they leave the test on the counter for a day or so, then it is mailed late. If the mail is late, the result may be negative.also 67% of test are false negatives within the first 5 days and teeters off to 20% false negative at the 8th day. So if you take a test as soon as you come home, you might be false negative and spread the virus. best to quarantine.

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The_Oracle 2 months, 1 week ago

Visitors using Fake test docs, or returning Bahamians or residents? The headline raises more questions but being the body of the article only says "people" I have to ask. Perhaps the reporter should have.

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mandela 2 months, 1 week ago

The government knew and knows that there is no way for them to control persons entering the country, such a task is way above their mental capacity and ability, so it's all talk to calm our fears, because if they cared they would not have opened the borders to USA citizens at this time, not until their virus cases come down to acceptable levels.

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ISpeakFacts 2 months, 1 week ago

Not surprised, We can't even stop the thousands of illegal haitian aliens from entering our country yearly, we're a backwards country...there is no hope!!!

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

Dr. Frank Barlett said: "We are dealing with the influx of people bringing disease into the country.”

Minnis and D'Aguilar made a deadly mistake in foolishly re-opening our borders to a few dare devil international travelers while most of the US is ablaze with the spread of Covid-19.

And to add insult to grave injury, the Bahamians visiting the US as tourists since July 1 have probably spent more of our scarce hard currency overseas than the very few American tourists coming our way have spent in the Bahamas.

Power drunk Minnis is no doubt looking forward to announcing re-lock down orders when our grossly under resourced hospitals and clinics become overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients who face the prospect of dying a terrible death from drowning in their own fluid filled lungs.

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Proguing 2 months, 1 week ago

So if Covid 19 is around for another year, we should not let one tourist enter the country for another 12 months?

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tribanon 2 months, 1 week ago

I didn't say that. Look up the definition of "ablaze". Often in life it's readily apparent when it's absolutely the wrong time to do something. Pre-maturely re-opening our borders on July 1 to international travelers in the midst of a raging resurgence of Covid-19 in many US states, especially Florida, was just such a time.

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mandela 2 months, 1 week ago

Since the border was opened on July 1st have we seen an influx of tourists coming in that would in any way be any substantial help to our GDP? No, but what we have seen in 15 days since opening up is almost on average 1 new case per day and the possibility of another shutdown, so we are risking the health of our nation for a couple of dollars. Invite tourists from countries with lower risk. The USA at this time is not one of them. They should be banned at this time and Bahamians should not be allowed to travel there also at this time. The USA covid-19 handling is a disaster and we are jumping of a cliff just as they are to make them happy, the only thing is they can take care of themselves, they can print $$$$$$$$. We can't do either.

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zipline 2 months, 1 week ago

Bang!! I knew it wasn't long before people tried this!....Not surprised

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TalRussell 2 months, 1 week ago

Just the prescription The Doctor Mr. Minnis ordered! A brilliant marketing scheme by Mr. Minnis' comrade Dioniso James to attract them easily be enticed deeply brain-damaged far-right republican Trump's mentality very ill supporters to brungs their disregard for the killer virus to sunbathe on one The Colony's 700 out islands, cays, and rocks, white sandy beaches for a couple of days. Just couldn't make this stuff up. Just, couldn't. Nod Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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Clamshell 2 months, 1 week ago

After wading with some difficulty through Bro. Tal’s prose, I find myself nodding once for “yes.”

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shonkai 2 months, 1 week ago

I think we can open up everything again, just stop alcohol imports, sales, production and use. when I see all these people drinking and brawling a bars, liquor stores, beaches and restaurants even the sight of them shouting in each others faces makes me sick. Bahamians, residents and tourists alike. Please note, I use the word "stop", not "forbid".

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ted4bz 2 months, 1 week ago

No one made a mistake, it’s apart of the plan to make an excuse why they must shut us down for weeks at a time. The plan is on cue, brace brace brace.

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