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Wilchcombe connected Sands with Americans who brought test kits

Obie Wilchcombe. (File photo)

Obie Wilchcombe. (File photo)

UPDATE: With regards to the American permanent residents who were allowed into the country to bring COVID-19 test kits last week, the Prime Minister said that it was, in fact, six people (all related) who were allowed to disembark – not the previously stated two. All have tested negative for COVID-19 and are under mandatory 14-day quarantine. The Ministry of Health will issue a statement on the issue on Monday.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe connected Health Minister Dr Duane Sands with the Americans who brought test kit swabs to the country last week and were controversially allowed to quarantine at their home afterwards.

Mr Wilchcombe says the donation was never intended to be controversial but was a response to the pressing need for COVID-19 resources.

“It took a while to locate the test kits,” he said. “Within four to five days, we were able to get them down to Florida and get them home. They weren’t anywhere around and only certain companies can purchase them.”

Mr Wilchcombe said his contacts were people in the medical and science fields, which allowed them to secure the supplies.

“I know them, they said they wanted to help, they called me up and we went from there. I passed it on to the government.”

He said he does not believe Dr Sands knew who the donors were before he connected them.

Last Thursday, Dr Sands defended his decision to allow two American permanent residents entry into the country and to quarantine at home, saying they brought much-needed COVID-19 testing supplies.

However Dr Sands suggested he was blindsided by the Americans’ arrival on Bahamian soil, saying the tests were flown on a cargo flight and once in the country, the donors asked for permission to disembark.

He took responsibility for the matter and said he made the decision to allow the two Americans to disembark, but later conceded if he had to do it again, some things might be done differently. Officials were awaiting the Americans’ COVID-19 test results, he added. At the time, he could not say if others were on board the flight.

The matter has sparked at times furious criticism over what some see as a favour to wealthy foreign residents when many Bahamians have been denied the chance to return to the county for over a month.

Mr Wilchcombe said: “The minister said we are having difficulties getting the test kits and the call has been to find them, wherever you find them, fly them and get them in.”

He said he believes proper protocol was followed. However, he declined to give his views on what happened to the donors once they arrived in the country, saying: "The minister made a decision, the government side made a decision.”

Mr Wilchcombe continued: “Are we testing our people efficiently? No, we are not. I think we’ll be able to have a clear and definite picture as to where we are once we test more people because we could have low numbers that could mean you simply weren’t testing enough. The donations will help with this.”

Now, he said, the government must bring Bahamians home.

“Bahamians haven’t come home yet, that to me is the controversy,” he said. “Bahamians want Bahamians home. You need the test kits and you need your people home.”

For more on this story, see Monday’s Tribune.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Mr Wilchcombe said his contacts were people in the medical and science fields, which allowed them to secure the supplies.

“I know them, they said they wanted to help, they called me up and we went from there. I passed it on to the government.”

Well blow me away!! You mean to tell me Obie Wilchcombe got more contacts with big wigs in the medical and sciences fields than our country's PM Minnis and Minister of Health Sands combined, both of whom like to think of themselves as the dynamic duo of medical doctors in charge of saving the Bahamian people from the deadly Covid-19 virus!!! Surely this Obie tale can't be true!!!!

While we're at it, perhaps Perry Christie could put PM Minnis and Finance Minister Turnquest in touch with some foreign experts in the field of banking and economics who might be able to help our country out with its dire lack of money situation. I'm sure PM Minnis and DPM Turnquest would gladly let the Christie-recommended experts fly here in their private jet and remain in the Bahamas after they have unloaded and turned over to the government the bag loads of money they would surely bring as the 'quid' for the 'quo' in the quid pro quo exchange.

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screwedbahamian 2 years, 2 months ago

Why is it after spending the taxpaying Bahamian citizen's money to place and MAINTAIN AMBASSADORS in Washington DC, New York, United Kingdom, Europe and all over the rest of the world and pay for membership into countless world organizations we have to be subject to obtaining black market unreliable COVID-19 test kits through CORRUPT means. Corrupt individuals never change they only change their CORRUPT schemes.

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Hoda 2 years, 2 months ago

Probably Because every country in the world needs test or wants tests and The Bahamas and many other countries can hardly afford to outbid the big boys for approved tests that are produced and being produced by medical and pharmaceutical companies. Oh and Trump pulled the US, the major founder, out of the WHO, or is it pano, who supplies smaller countries with vaccines etc.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh really? You would call the Caymans a big boy? The Caymanian government managed to get more diagnotic test kits than their country needed and even offered to sell some of their excess supply to the Bahamas at cost.

Please, lets just accept all of this foolishness for what it so glaringly is: Gross incompetence on the part of yet another Bahamian government found to be steeped in all kinds of corruption.

The quid pro quo involving the so called 'donated' diagnotic test kits are but the very tip of an enormous iceberg of corruption when it comes to our current government.

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Hoda 2 years, 2 months ago

I imagine finding test for A max population 65,000 Is easier than than for us and other Caribbean countries. Cayman spent 4.4 million on their tests, I read, I don’t have insider information as you. Also, you said they offered at costs, not free. So, if we buy the adequate amount of tests, accounting for people potentially being required to test a few times. Is it fair to guess that we will be spending a pretty penny.

Further, the Who reported that they had a meeting with its members to address how they intend to handle the distribution of covid 19 vaccines when and if it is found, specifically for the probability that there will be a bidding war. Ok, The MOH is incompetent....now does that diplomats are in their news outlets raising their concerns out the equitable distribution of covid 9 tests and vaccines?

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thps 2 years, 2 months ago

Da news dere say the order was 200,000 and could have gotten 1/2 million but didn't need that much and are selling the excess like what the posted said. Google say they population is 65000+ not 80k.

One must give them credit. Hard to fault The Bahamas but it does show that its possible to do if you use all connections (like Obie).

Anyway, all means to get tests are welcomed. Obie, Duane, Doc , Cayman, whoever, however, as long as they work. Test, test and test some more.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

The end never justifies the means and corruption in any form or for any reason should never be welcomed. Most Bahamians are suffering a terrible existence daily, not because of Dorian or the Red China Virus, but because of decades of unchecked, rampant and pervasive corruption throughout successive governments with tone always being set right from the very top. Be careful my friend, none of us are immune to the very harmful effects of the corrupt activities of elected and other senior government officials.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

I think we can forget about the myth of testing. it ain't gonna happen. We have 400,000 people and tgey talking sbout 2000 tests and completed tests on 1000 people 2 months into the pandemic. It's literally ridiculous. They might as well tell a group of us to start manufacturing plastic bubbles for protection so we can go back to work.

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moncurcool 2 years, 2 months ago

Remember, Cayman is not independent. It is under the United Kingdom, which makes a huge difference. Why do you think their financial services has not bee attacked like the Bahamas?

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thps 2 years, 2 months ago

if you read the way it was negotiated it was not the UK but a local effort. Google.

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thps 2 years, 2 months ago

UK is not in the EU anymore and surprises surprise. Cayman has been blacklisted by the EU whereas the 242 is no longer.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

Why is Obie Wilchombe always connected to weird Americans dealings? The Bridgewater computer "factory", John Travolta and the dead body, now this.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Unlike Minnis and Sands, he comes across as being affable, not egotistical and without a racist bone in his body. But he's nevertheless well known to be a corrupt and incorrigible scoundrel to the very core.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 2 months ago

wow. you have a way with compliments lol

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tetelestai 2 years, 2 months ago

I see what you did there, sickened. Touche.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Everyone knows Obie's always affordable and looking for that next pocket to pick.

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licks2 2 years, 2 months ago

Well. . .as usual, plenty dumb stuff from some old regulars them around here!! Any way. . .Dr. Sands is in hot water for breaking Emergency Order # 2!! Many persons were treated rough for doing so. . .the pm will have to do the same with Sands or be seen as a wimp when it comes to follow through when it comes to the elite!!

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