0

Test Kits Flight: Pm Confirms Protocol Breach; Sands – ‘I Intend To Continue My Work‘

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

Duane Sands does not plan to resign from Cabinet over his actions related to six permanent residents who arrived in the country last week with COVID-19 supplies and were allowed to self-isolate in their homes. “I intend to continue my work for the Bahamian people in my capacity as minister of health and I will do it to the best of my ability,” he told The Tribune yesterday.

His statement came after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, during a national address yesterday, confirmed that six permanent residents, not two, disembarked an aircraft last week Wednesday with test supplies.

He said the protocol for allowing Bahamians and legal residents to enter the country was breached during the episode and that Dr Sands will issue a statement on the matter today.

Former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe connected Dr Sands to the donors who supplied 2,500 swabs that cost $11,250 and current Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for aviation, approved the arrival of the N-578GC aircraft that brought the supplies and its passengers to the country.

Dr Sands informed Mr D’Aguilar of the aircraft and the Freetown MP ensured that the Civil Aviation Authority satisfied the request to let the aircraft enter.

Mr D’Aguilar, when contacted yesterday, said civil aviation approved the flight with his support “given the dire need for swabs necessary to conduct COVID-19 testing.”

The Tribune understands that in the process of preparing for the flight’s arrival, Mr D’Aguilar told Dr Sands he needed approval from the Department of Immigration for the passengers.

Dr Sands then reached out to Immigration Director Clarence Russell, telling him the country needed the supplies badly and that the passengers will be quarantined on arrival. Captain Russell approved Dr Sands’ request.

The controversial episode is not the first time people have been allowed to disembark in the country since Dr Minnis implemented a lockdown several weeks ago, though officials have resisted telling this newspaper exactly how many have been granted entry since the lockdown began.

This newspaper understands that Mr D’Aguilar told Dr Sands officials had been insisting that people coming to the country during the lockdown provide a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry. However, Mr D’Aguilar left it to the minister of health to make the call on this matter. Ultimately, the residents were not tested until last week Thursday, a day after they arrived.

Dr Minnis said yesterday they have tested negative for COVID-19. He suggested that the COVID-19 protocol requiring that passengers obtain a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test from an accredited lab before being allowed entry to the country was breached during the episode.

Pressed on why last week he said two passengers disembarked the flight and not six, Dr Sands said he did not familiarise himself with passenger details. He insisted he did not know the identity of the donors until some time after they had arrived.

“I did not know who the people were,” he said. “The issue of who they were and how many were on the plane, I had no idea. After the question was put to me (during the press conference), that was when I went back to the surveillance team to find out how many people were on board and who they were. When you are in the middle of doing this and that, the significance of some things do not arise. It’s after someone asks you a question that you then try to determine what the answer is. I was focused on getting supplies, not on who these people are.”

Dr Sands said the episode reflects how flights during a national crisis, be it Hurricane Dorian or COVID-19, are handled.

“You get a call, a WhatsApp message, an email, and it’s bam bam bam, no sitting down, no stopping and asking whether if I ask somebody to approve flight they will get vexed. A week before this we had a donation of 500 test kits from Cat Cay that we had to go send a plane to collect. I asked D’Aguilar to approve it and he did, the plane landed, they dropped off the stuff and they left. We had two such deliveries like that. Having had that happen at least two times from the United States previously, why would I think this was anything different? If you put the people who were on this flight in front of me, I wouldn’t know any of them.

“I am quite frankly shocked at how far to the left this conversation has gone. When you’re trying to solve problems for the public, sometimes it requires you to dig deep, to beg and we’ve done a lot of begging based on relationships that you have established over the years with individuals and institutions and universities and countries. It’s called networking. Failing that, you cannot mount a response.”

For his part, Mr Wilchcombe said he does not believe Dr Sands knew the donors before he connected them.

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

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

“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.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 2 months ago

We got test kits, I have no problem with this. Good work Sands, by hook or crook. Way to hustle…

2

joeblow 2 months ago

... but when the same 'hustle' takes place with something you don't agree with he should be fired, right? It seems the concept of what principle means eludes you!

1

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

ok @proud. I also think Dr Sands is great. In fact he was my hope for PM, he still is. But this was sloppy work. Sloppy sloppy sloppy. Someone knew this was going to explode in his face and allowed him to proceed hoping it would explode. And it exploded. This was not good wirk. We need to be honest so people do better next time. If you continue with this line that the end justifies the means, what will they do next in the name of "helping" the country?

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 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 the 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.

1

ohdrap4 2 months ago

The voters will resign him in due time.

0

joeblow 2 months ago

Sands should not be asked to resign, he should be fired! The only reason he might not be is because Minnis is too politically weak to do so!

0

Brilandboy 2 months ago

So according to the Min of Health it's of no concern who enters the country as long as they bring the test kits, right? But what if the test kits are faulty? Ever considered that or it doesn't matter?

0

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

"Duane Sands does not plan to resign from Cabinet"

Good! You shouldn't. But I have been saying for over 2 years now that you need a political strategist beside you. I suggested Adrian Francis. Find one asap. A good one with integrity, I hope thats not an unintended oxymoron. This politics thing is like navigating a landmine I think you were put in the centre of a self destroying trap, like one of those mission impossible messages.

0

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

"I am quite frankly shocked at how far to the left this conversation has gone"

Dr Sands pleeeaaaaase find a political strategist. While you are concerned with health matters and keeping the country safe, the strategist will tell you ahead of the scandal that a scandal may be in the works "if" so and so happens. They can then tell you how to manoeuvre to avoid things going to the far left.

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

Your mantra that it's okay to be corrupt as long as you're smart enough not to get caught or are able to deflect and/or cover up your wrongdoing, is being heard loud and clear.

You certainly are one twisted soul.

1

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

lol. I wonder if I am a twisted soul. Maybe...you caught me:)

But you mistake me. Im operating on the premise that Dr Sands didnt know this couple would be accompanying the kits. I believe others knew and were content to let him walk into the bear trap. The one thing that has always been clear to me is Sands is not a politico. This is the 2nd time he's gone down the road of political suicide.

Now if I am wrong and he knew the couple would be arriving on the plane with intent to stay..that's a different matter and unfortunately the right thing to do would be to offer his resignation. That just couldn't be allowed to stand in the face of our Bahamians, one of whom I know personally, suffering abroad while trying to get home.

0

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

oh you meant when I said how to manoeuvre?.

Have you ever watched one of those Netflix presidential dramas? The president is surrounded by advisors, there's always some moral decision to be made and the angel and the devil advisors give different scenarios on what could happen if the president takes a certain action.

What I am saying is it seems to me that Dr Sands takes these actions "to help" without considering the ramifications. I was in no way proposing that he should find someone to help him do something immoral but not get caught, that's why I included the word integrity.

What I want is have someone to help him to consider all the possible outcomes and pitfalls and chose the ethical path to getting what he needs find done.

0

joeblow 2 months ago

@ThisIsOurs... all Sands had to do was ask for the swabs to be sent by Fed Ex-- problem solved.

This flight was precleared before it left the USA, that is a major problem!

0

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

there you go. Dr Sands needs you:) Sometimes when you in the trees no matter how competent you are you need someone looking at the forest.

I doubt that Sands was involved in clearing the flight. Again I think someone knew and they let Dr Sands walk into the self made trap.

0

screwedbahamian 2 months ago

No information on where the plane came in from. Was it a HOT SPOT in America.Hundreds of faulty test kits were on the Black market , with the Federal government representatives warning not to use, apparently these were not any of them , but if you don't know the Donors or the Number of passengers on the plane to disembark with them it really doesn't matter WHO REALLY IS IN CHARGE AND RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LIVES AND WELL BEING OF THE BAHAMIAN CITIZENS

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

In answer to your appropriate loud question: Certainly not Sands!

And we might be able to say the same about Minnis if Sands proves to be as untouchable by Minnis as Sands is only too quick to publicly assert.

0

Jim 2 months ago

Test kits were available from other Caribbean countries and were offered and Sands choose to accept the donated gift with a catch. Numbers game continues, was 2 Americans, but in reality 4 additional Americans were with them (their staff?). Not only was the protocol breached, Sands is prioritizing Americans over his own Bahamian citizens abroad. What does tha say to every Bahamian with a family member despertly trying to return to their country. The aircraft, N578GC, flight history shows on April 29th., arrival in AM on Cat Cay, returned to Fort Lauderdale and then another flight to Nassau at 12noon. Did the people depart in Cay and the bootlegged supplies off-loaded in Nassau? Additionally the same plane, during weekend lockdown on Sat., May 2, made another return to Cat Cay, a frequent location where the plane flies. Might account for the news reporting of "all the people on Cat Cay were tested for COVID and were negative" and the use of all thise kits occured during the dramtic statement for the"dire need for swabs." Additionally the comment from Sands, The plane was here and we had to make an urgent decision," was apparentlyfor the shock value as the chartered plane flies repeatedly in and out of the country. Bahamians, thee are shenanigans going on in your country, overlook and find excuses or unite and do tje right thing to get you people and your economy back.

1

The_Oracle 2 months ago

The problem is that our political figures find the un-ethical quicksand with such sure footedness! Every single time, It is like they can't see forward but two feet! Initial reaction is always Lie. Claim ignorance. Mumble.
Action, reaction, consequence. Or is it that they don't care, once elected they're above being questioned? We are all familiar with the attendant arrogance that comes with high office.

1

birdiestrachan 2 months ago

Why did he lie and say it was two people. when he knew it was Six.

He said he will continue his work. so he is telling the PM not to touch him.

0

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

he didn't lie. He didn't know. You can castigate him for acting without having all the information and still have a valid argument

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

And whose responsibility do you think it was to ensure that all of the relevant information was obtained so that no laws would be broken. Think how many Bahamians in recent months have been subject to arrest and subsequent imposition of outrageous fines and/or prison sentences even though they pleaded to the judge they were only guilty by reason of not knowing or understanding all the information contained in the emergency orders. Is Sands really entitled to feign ignorance of the law or, worse still, know the law and simply ignore it?

2

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

"And whose responsibility do you think it was to ensure that all of the relevant information was obtained so that no laws would be broken."

yeah that's my point. You'd have a valid argument if you "attacked/faulted/castigated" him for that

0

licks2 2 months ago

The only information he needed is EO chp. 34. . .he haas been throwing that law in our faces for months now!! Further more, no curfew brakes could use that argument in court. . .the only thing he needed was the law!! Even doc admits Sands breached to order. . .bethel reasoned like mudder-take-sic because he hates to tell sands to his face: "dude, you are screwed bouy"!

0

TalRussell 2 months ago

If only the jailed streets comrade Homeless citizens,' would've to remotely been treated such leniency as were the non-citizens', and the colony's crown minister health - by the First amongst equals excusing away a matter considered so serious that even the First's own handpicked nonelected attorney general QC, has stepped forward to voice what was clearly a breaking of the law act.
Why no mention of a telephone call being made to the either the AG, nor the crown's immigration minister?
Did the six foot the bill be virus tested, etc. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

Sands said, "It’s after someone asks you a question that you then try to determine what the answer is. I was focused on getting supplies, not on who these people are.”

In other words, Sands didn't seem to care whether the wealthy Americans, whom he purports to have personally 'authorised' to disembark their plane, were possible carriers of the Covid-19 virus. And it was not until the next day (after much public furor) that Sands presumably required that they be tested.

He went on to say, “You get a call, a WhatsApp message, an email, and it’s bam bam bam, no sitting down, no stopping and asking whether if I ask somebody to approve flight they will get vexed."

Translation: "I'm too busy as minister of health right now to have to worry about silly little things like complying with the law."

It's here we see Sands both shamefully and shamelessly engaged in self-aggrandizing behaviour. He's basically saying he regards himself as being much more important than the rest of us and, as such, need not comply with the laws that all of us must abide by or face outrageous fines and/or imprisonment for many years. Sands obviously considers himself a member of the political elite and, as such, does not believe the laws of the land apply to him.

Sands finally said, “I am quite frankly shocked at how far to the left this conversation has gone. When you’re trying to solve problems for the public, sometimes it requires you to dig deep, to beg and we’ve done a lot of begging based on relationships that you have established over the years with individuals and institutions and universities and countries. It’s called networking. Failing that, you cannot mount a response.”

Translation: "When begging one should not regard one's own self as being subject to the laws of the land". And heaven knows we have become a nation of beggars under the Minnis-led government. But the many thousands of poor Bahamians out there daily begging for food to help ease the hunger of themselves and their family members must fully comply with all the laws of the land or risk being arrested and subject to thousands of dollars in fines and/or prison terms of 5 years or more.

It now seems we live in a country where the law no longer applies equally to all. And that is fundamentally unconstitutional, most unfair and just plain wrong. We cannot have one set of laws, rules and orders for the vast majority of less well-off struggling Bahamians, and another set for for the wealthy political elite and foreigners.

We also now see Minnis, Sands, D'Aguilar, the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Director of Immigration, and others beholden to these officials, all circling their wagons in an effort to spin and twist the facts in the hope of bamboozling and hoodwinking the Bahamian people. Bottom line: Many laws have been broken, including by the Americans involved, to achieve what can only be described as a glaring and most corrupt quid-pro-quo arrangement.

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

By telling Minnis and the public in no uncertain terms that he has no intention of resigning and every intention of remaining minister of health, Sands is making it known to everyone that he considers himself untouchable by Minnis and therefore unanswerable to either him or the Bahamian people for having broken various laws in the course of personally 'approving' and participating in a corrupt quid-pro-quo arrangement. Here's where we find out just how tiny Minnis's rat sized balls really are.

Sands's record to date clearly shows he's no more indispensable to our public healthcare system than Frank Smith was to our PHA. Minnis should have appointed a special Czar from day-one to deal with the Red China Virus. I can think of a half-dozen senior/leading medical doctors with the integrity, medical smarts, vitality and common sense who should have held that Czar position and spared the Bahamian people all of the poor decision making that has occurred under Sands.

1

TalRussell 2 months ago

Frankly speaking might be a good idea do a quick flashback Wednesday, August 21, 2013, when a then redshirts opposition leader was yelling for PM Perry Gladstone to sack one his substantive crown ministers, and that the PM, should also know that all the colony's PopoulacesOrdinary knows the difference between the truth and a lie and they all know the difference between a government that accounts and one that obfuscates.
PM Perry Gladstone responded that, Dr. Minnis and his red shirts colleagues have problems with the English language and that that comprehension was one of them.
Hear that Queen's official opposition leader "Brave"...yelling! Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

0

Economist 2 months ago

So a few days ago the Tribue reported how the Cayman Islands had obtained 200,000 test kits form South Korea and that they were keeping 100,000 for themselves and had shipped 35,000 to Bermuda, 20,000 to Barbados and had a further 45,000 available to sell "AT COST".

No we are told how hard it is to get tests and need to grovel to get them.

Something smells.

0

TalRussell 2 months ago

Ma comrade Economist would much of a shock come over you if it turns out that the surplus test kits were first offered for sale to our own colony but the government never got back to the Caymans?

0

licks2 2 months ago

I find Dr. Sands stance in this matter as telling Doc: "bouy. . .carry ya tail from round here. . .you carn fire me". . .because even a twisted and oh so biased mind like mudder-tak-sic carn reason and come up with a contrived conclusion for why Sands can stay in his position. . .he defied the EO2 and then basically says: "so what. . .een nobody carn do nuttin to me nohow"!! But I guess this government will leave him be because, to arrest him means them Americans and OB must be arrested too!! This one is in the lap of Doc minnis alone. . .it is purely a matter of "ya quick to pull out the long arm of law for local shines them. . .but all involved in this "breach" are not the RA MASSES! Come on man of the people. . .do them just like yinna been doing we lil folks. . .arrest them law breakers them too!!

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

This one time I'm simply enthralled by your flattery of me.

1

ThisIsOurs 2 months ago

I think I figured out who @licks is and his name rhymes with "Linnis"

0

Honestman 2 months ago

Yes, it should have been handled differently but it was hardly corruption. That term can only surely apply if the deed was carried out for personal gain. Clearly that wasn't the case. Time to move on folks. The country has much bigger issues to face.

0

joeblow 2 months ago

... "clearly"? Really?

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

Suggest you do your homework and rely much less on quick 'shallow' sources like Wikipedia. You can start with the link below that provides a comprehensive analysis of the subject of corruption under UK law:

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/app/uploads...">https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/app/uploads...

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months ago

P.S.: You should note that "a person may commit an offence by soliciting an advantage, receiving it or agreeing to receive it."

In most quid pro quo arrangements there's usually a briber and a bribee and each is usually found to be equally culpable for the role they play in any arrangement that breaks or is intended to break the law.

0

licks2 2 months ago

He just got swing--many of public service administration attitude is: " I run my own show--the pm carn tell me what to do" -- this arrogance is pandemic in public services--they hate to accept the fact that EO3 gives the pm the "only mouth" in running this country. Now that doc has sacked the "mouth"-- this case can be put to bed--he overstepped his bounds--and led them innocent peoples dem over the cliff--case over!!

Doc MINNIS NEEDS TO NOW GO INTO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION WHERE HIS INSTRUCTIONS ARE NOT ADHERED TO AND OFFICERS WHO DARE TO OBEY HIM ARE HARASSED AND TOLD THEY WILL BE SANCTIONED. One officer told me that one ADD said that the pm DON'T RUN MOE--the director of education does and he determines what will be done!! I was given a copy of a circular from the MOE that is clearly contrary to the pm directive may 3rd demanding that officers in that department follow instruction from the DE contrary to pm's INSTRUCTIONS. i COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT i WAS READING. . .BUT THERE IT WAS IN THE FRONT OF MY EYES!!!

0

Sign in to comment