EDITOR, The Tribune
As of July 25, there are a reported 159 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Grand Bahama -- 29 more than in New Providence. Grand Bahama is now a hotspot for the virus. Many people on the island are jittery, for obvious reasons. The very thing Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis attempted to avert with the closure of the borders and implementation of curfews and lockdowns have sadly become a frightening reality.
The Ministry of Health has so far conducted 3,935 tests, which has been criticised by certain official opposition members as not being enough. I believe that the Public Hospitals Authority is overwhelmed. A private clinic in Freeport is apparently aware of the public health system’s snail’s pace in conducting COVID-19 tests, and have decided to do its own testing by appointment. I understand that the fee for a COVID-19 test is between $250 - $300. Freeport’s economy has been tottering since 2000, made worse by the closure of the Royal Oasis and Casino in 2004, after the passage of Hurricanes Francis and Jeanne.
The current pandemic has only exacerbated an economic situation that has been for bad for two decades. With many working Grand Bahamians being laid off, furloughed or working reduced hours, few can afford $250 for a COVID-19 test. Many Grand Bahamians are depending on government handouts from the National Insurance Board and Social Services. With mortgage, rent, utilities and food bills mounting, the COVID-19 fee is not a priority for many.
I appreciate the private clinic wanting to assist in the battle against this pandemic. But I believe that the asking price is too steep for many Grand Bahamians.
July 26, 2020.