THERE are three words that show the nature of what we are battling in this latest spike of COVID-19 cases. Those are “history of travel”.
Three new cases were announced yesterday, two of which had a history of travel. A Bahamasair flight attendant is among this week’s crop of COVID-19 cases.
Opening our borders was always going to increase the risk of the virus getting into our country, but according to health experts the cases we are seeing are coming from Bahamians returning from hotspots overseas.
On Tuesday, Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis said we are seeing spread from Bahamians who have been to those areas where there has been a surge in cases – and that means hotspots in the United States.
In the Ministry of Health press conference, she said she would love to suggest to Bahamians that they shouldn’t travel – but she can’t. Instead, she said people should determine whether travel is really necessary.
The tricky part is the 72-hour loophole where Bahamians can go out of the country and come back in again without a negative test result. Other visitors, Bahamian or otherwise, must show a negative test result. That doesn’t prevent them catching the virus in the time after they have taken a test, of course, and they have ten days in which they could catch the virus rather than 72 hours, but the need to get a valid test might well focus the mind on the need to stay healthy before flying.
The good news so far is that these cases are being detected. It would be worse if they went unnoticed and began community spread.
But as we monitor the increasing number of cases, we must ask ourselves the question if we need to make any further restrictions on travel.
Should we consider limitations on leaving and returning to the country? That’s a difficult question – and Dr Dahl-Regis was reluctant to do more than advise Bahamians on that count. Fingers would inevitably point at foreign arrivals and protest that if visitors can travel then why not Bahamians. Also, any restrictions should absolutely consider the Bahamians who need to go to the US for medical needs, and so on.
We should bear in mind the weight behind the words of the experts, though, and be very careful about stepping into the heart of the pandemic that awaits across the water.
Miami was named this week as being the new epicentre of the pandemic – and we should consider very carefully if our trips are necessary before we take that double risk, first of catching it and then of spreading it back home.
This pandemic is asking difficult questions of us all, and the answers are literally matters of life and death. It is important that every option is considered – all with the goal of saving lives.
Well done to bright sparks
Here’s something that doesn’t get said every day: Well done, Bahamas Power & Light.
The company’s new fuel hedging strategy will save money all round. It is forecast that electricity bills will be down by about 30 percent.
More, it should stop the ups and downs we face with the changing price of oil. It will also help reduce the drain on our external reserves.
At a time when some good news is sorely needed, this is very welcome indeed. Credit where it is due.