Editorial: Clear Communication Must Be The Lesson

IN the wake of the resignation of Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, there were clear lessons to be learned. The slow revelation of more information about how a COVID-19 positive passenger got on board a repatriation flight shows that some skipped those lessons.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis welcomed back the 183 Bahamians and residents who returned to New Providence and Grand Bahama. He didn’t spell it out in his speech but those passengers came back from Fort Lauderdale on two separate planes. One plane – with 88 people on board – flew directly to New Providence. It was the second plane that had the infected passenger on board.

Dr Minnis said in his speech that the “agreement with those wishing to return is that no one who tested positive for the virus would be allowed on a repatriation flight” – before revealing one passenger was found to be positive after the flight landed.

“Three individuals travelled with this passenger,” said Dr Minnis – but they were not alone. A total of 51 of those – including the infected passenger – disembarked at Freeport. The remaining 44 continued to New Providence. That total, you’ll notice, is 95, not 183, and that’s where a lack of clear speaking doesn’t help. Rather than saying outright there were two planes, it leaves people to work things out.

When Dr Minnis said three individuals travelled with this passenger, it turns out they were a family, three of them having produced a negative test result. They showed up at the Bahamasair counter on Friday despite not being on the list to travel. Dr Minnis did not mention that in his national address.

Bahamasair had a list of passengers due to fly – initially 190. Apparently, when these four showed up, Bahamasair contacted the Consulate General’s office who said their list did have the family’s names on – and Bahamasair duly added them to the manifest. Two different lists left a gap that meant that an infected person could get on the plane.

When Dr Sands spoke to the nation about the decision that ultimately led to his resignation, he said two people had entered the country. It turned out to be six people, not two. Somewhere, a lack of clear communication ended up with a minister not knowing how many people had just been let into the country. A lack of clear communication in this new case ended up with an infected passenger on board a plane carrying 95 people.

The outcome of this is at least a temporary end to repatriation flights. Bahamians abroad will have to wait a little longer because of someone’s decision to put this family on the flight.

We hope that decision will not result in the spread of more cases. The good news is that passengers on the flights wore PPE gear, and all passengers going into quarantine afterwards reduces the risk of carrying it further – but that’s cleaning up the mess afterwards rather than avoiding it to begin with.

The concerns are not just effective communication to the public – although Dr Minnis spoke for more than 50 minutes in his national address to make clear what happened, and the Consul General has yet to speak on the subject. It is also effective communication within government to be able to make the right decisions – and to eliminate the grey areas that can lead to problems.

These are the things that the resignation ought to have taught us – and it is clear that we still have a distance to go.

Kicking down doors and making The Bahamas proud

The Bahamas can be proud indeed of one of its sons.

Nicholas Johnson has been named the first black valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020. He’s the son of a Bahamian doctor, Dr Dexter Johnson, who practises in Ottawa, Canada.

Speaking to The Tribune, Dr Johnson’s pride shone through as he talked of his Cat Island roots, growing up in Arthur’s Town and going to St Anne’s High School.

He said his son’s accomplishment was a great story for a country like ours and that it could inspire others to strive for greatness – all the more remarkable for him being the first black man in Princeton’s history to receive the honour.

He said: “Bahamians are very proud people and it’s just great to know that it took one of our own to finally kick that door down after 274 years.”

It already inspired former First Lady Michelle Obama to share Nicholas’ story with the world on Twitter, congratulating him and saying how as a Princeton alum she was so proud of him. We’ll let her have the last word, with which we can only agree: “I have a feeling this is just the beginning for you, and I cannot wait to see everything you continue to achieve.”


TalRussell 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Was it 180,183, 190 or 200 passengers listed on the flights manifest + just the one...and what's to say that the names listed on Mercy Flights COVID-19's manifests, were any more transparent than the redshirts 2017 general election's Manifesto - or even why the OBAN file went missing, or why the missing OBAN file is now into the hands of a third Chief of the Royal Constabulary...speaks to a lie there were but only clear lessons to be learned about the disturbing revelations flowing out almost hourly about how many more government official's hands in Mercy Flights COVID-19's brew than just the colony's original now turfed out the crown comrade health minister?
I've been informed that there were but 94 onboard both flights combined who are actual citizens of the colony?
The two planes had to have flown with flight crews - were they also placed under army guards quarantined?
Imagine had I just made up a tall tale about how an actual government official stationed abroad - themselves managed board one the Mercy Flights COVID-19's bound for the colony? Nod yeah, yeah, yeah!


Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Now that The Tribune has caved to legal pressure from those who wish to silence comments posted to this website that they find offensive or annoying, there's really no reason for me to continue posting my own comments. Like The Tribune's ad revenue, I shall now disappear. Consider this may last post. Ciao.


geostorm 4 months, 2 weeks ago

@well_mudda, although I disagree with 99% of the garbage that you post, it's sad to see you go. I hope you would reconsider and come back a changed man/woman.


themessenger 4 months, 2 weeks ago

@mudda, so long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye to you, seriously though mudda, like geostorm,I’ll miss our agreeing to disagree.


stillwaters 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Go back to Bahamas Press and spill your garbage there


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