By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
MINISTER of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson yesterday admitted he has received complaints that some residents returning to Grand Bahama from abroad have not been following self-isolation guidelines prescribed by officials to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This comes amid growing concern about the rising number of COVID-19 cases on the island.
Dubbing the situation as a “wake-up call”, Mr Thompson urged residents on the island to not let their guard down and to follow every health precaution to protect against the spread of the infectious disease.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, he said: “We must comply with the COVID regulations. We must comply with law. There are still too many persons who are in public and who are not wearing their masks and they’re still too many businesses that are not ensuring that their patrons wear masks.
“We still have a number of complaints with persons who are returning home and residents who are returning home, Bahamians and residents who are returning home and not complying with the quarantine regulations.”
He continued: “This is in our hands to be able to control. We did it before, we can do it again, but we need to send a clear message out to Grand Bahamians that we must be vigilant when it comes to these regulations.
“We cannot be relaxed and so I send a plea out to the entire community to ensure that you comply, wear your masks and keep your social distancing regulations. COVID is still here. We are still in the middle of the fight and we have to ensure that we do what is necessary to keep it under control.”
While outlining revised rules for entry protocols into the country last month, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said residents travelling outside the country for “over a period of 72 hours or less” will not be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test to return home and instead will have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. If they want to shorten the quarantine period, they would have to take a negative COVID-19 test.
However according to Senator Thompson, some residents on the island have not been adhering to the orders.
There have been eight new COVID-19 cases on Grand Bahama reported in less than a week and on Monday, Pizza Hut announced that one of its workers on the island tested positive for the virus and is now in quarantine. This came after a more than two month lull in cases in Grand Bahama.
Health officials have previously said they are still conducting contact tracing on the island. But, given the recent spike of cases, some residents on Grand Bahama have been calling for drastic measures to prevent further community spread.
Asked yesterday if the government was considering implementing a lockdown, the minister replied that officials would have to be guided by health officials on the matter.
“So, again I think the medical officials will be able to advise us in terms of that,” Mr Thompson said.
“What is think is necessary for residents to do what they can and what is in their control which is when they go out in the public to wear their masks and to ensure that they have their social distancing and to maintain their hygiene and continue to wash their hands.
“...If you do not have to travel internationally, do not travel internationally. If you do and you come back home, ensure that you abide by the quarantine regulations but in respect to the additional lockdowns, I’m sure that the health officials will give us the proper advice and we’ll take action based on the advice given.”