By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
EXUMA Administrator Preston Cunningham is in isolation after coming into contact with one of the COVID-19 cases on the island, local MP Chester Cooper said yesterday.
Mr Cooper, MP for Exuma and Ragged Island, also said while Mr Cunningham had tested negative for the virus, there is concern over a severe shortage of COVID-19-related medical equipment on the island. He was speaking at the Progressive Liberal Party’s weekly press conference at the party’s headquarters on Farrington Road yesterday.
Mr Cooper said: “I have had access to officials on Exuma – the chief of police, the administrator – I would say though that the administrator himself is in isolation due to a possible contact with one of the cases. He is doing well, he has tested negative and his staff, out of the abundance of caution, is also isolated at home, but we have been able to speak on a daily basis and there haven’t been any issues at this point.”
Mr Cooper wished residents well who have contracted the virus, saying: “I am pleased to report that my office has been in touch with case number one on the island of Exuma. She is quarantined at home with mild symptoms and she is doing well. Cases two and three, I believe to be connected to case number one, are also quarantined at home and are asymptomatic. Thoughts and prayers continue to go out to them and we continue to ask the people of Exuma to continue to follow the health protocols.”
He added: “The circumstance at the moment is that there is a shortage of test kits, a shortage of PPEs, the doctors and health care officials are at the moment constrained in terms of the availability of our general supplies. I suspect this is the case across all of the Family Islands and I urge the government to act swiftly in ensuring that we protect our frontline workers and ensuring that we are adequately equipped and we build capacity to ensure that we do what needs to happen in the Family Islands to protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens.”
Mr Cooper said he “objected strongly” to the government’s decision to lodge illegal migrants, caught at sea, on Ragged Island. “I objected strongly to the landing of the immigrants in Ragged Island, due to the lack of capacity, lack of logistic support at the base,” he said. “There is no electricity and no running water at the base. There is no nurse and no doctor on the island and it is rather perplexing as to why the government thought it made sense to travel all the way from the Northern Bahamas, where I understand the interception occurred, to Ragged Island, a place that is relatively COVID-free.
“I understand that today, as a result of the protest, as a result of my advocacy, that the government has taken the decision to move along from Ragged Island. So, we anticipate that the migrants will be transported elsewhere. I am assuming that they will be repatriated, but we are going to wait for an official report from the government.”
Mr Cooper said the people of Ragged Island are concerned, perplexed and disappointed that the government seemed not to care about their health or their wellbeing. He said he and his constituents have complained about the lack of nurse, doctor and facilities for three years since Hurricane Irma and nothing has been done. This situation only adds insult to injury, he said.