Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said 12 people were allowed in the country during the lockdown period before recent repatriation exercises.
Among those allowed in are six permanent residents who brought test kits nearly two weeks ago and were allowed to quarantine in their home. Health Minister Dr Duane Sands resigned from Cabinet over that incident.
Of the 12 people allowed in the country during the lockdown, two were Bahamian citizens, one was a permanent resident and three were work permit holders “being skilled technicians contracted to conduct specialised emergency work for utility services,” Dr Minnis said yesterday.
“I’m also advised that all these individuals were screened by health officials and were placed under self-quarantine. One of those Bahamians was permitted to exit the country and to re-enter the Bahamas after medical care over the course of a 24-hour period. This individual was administered a COVID-19 test upon re-entry and was placed under self-quarantine. The second Bahamian obtained a COVID-19 test prior to entry and was also placed under self-quarantine. One permanent resident was permitted entry who obtained a COVID-19 test prior to arrival and was placed under self-quarantine. A total of three work permit holders were permitted entry for emergency and essential purposes. Two of these individuals were needed to service BPL generators here in New Providence. These individuals were placed under self-quarantine which was the policy at the time of their arrival. The other permit holder was an engineer required on a private island. He obtained a COVID-19 test prior to arrival in the Bahamas and was also placed under self-quarantine.”
Dr Minnis has yet to speak comprehensively about the episode that led to Dr Sands’ resignation and has not taken questions from the press on the matter.
He has suggested that protocol was breached when the residents were allowed in the country without first being tested for COVID-19. However, a COVID-19 test before re-entry to the country is not specified in the emergency order he has released, nor is it clear that the failure to have the residents tested before entry breached a Cabinet decision. Some observers have also questioned the role of various government officials who allowed the residents to return to the country but have not been held to account for such actions.