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1,000 Inquire About Travel To Family Islands

Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis

Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

A FURTHER relaxation of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ emergency COVID-19 restrictions is expected to be announced today as officials revealed they have been surprised by the numbers seeking to travel back to the Family Islands.

COVID-19 response coordinator Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, asked during a press conference yesterday about phases two and three of the government’s reopening plan, said her team shared its recommendations with Dr Minnis and he is expected to announce some changes as early as today.

This comes as the emergency powers orders were amended yesterday so some businesses and people now have new permission to operate, including law firms, real estate agencies and justices of the peace on weekdays between 9am and 1pm. Hardware, lumber, plumbing, home and hurricane awnings and protection businesses will be allowed to open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8am and 8pm. Construction is now permitted throughout the country between 7am and 7pm.

Health officials also revealed that they have been overwhelmed by a number of inquiries related to inter-island travel.

They said they received over 900 queries concerning this on Wednesday, the first day the process began, and got more than 1,000 queries overall. Officials said 17 people from the Disaster Management Authority were assessed at the South Beach Clinic and allowed to go to Abaco yesterday.

During a national address on Sunday, Dr Minnis announced the introduction of a COVID-19 travel card to facilitate inter-island travel. He said each person will be required to be examined by a doctor and given a travel card if approved. The evaluation will include a risk assessment via a questionnaire to determine a person’s level of risk, plus a possible psychical exam to determine presence of COVID-19 symptoms.

Amid furore over the failure to reopen Eleuthera, Exuma, San Salvador and the Berry Islands to normal commercial activity, Dr Dahl-Regis said officials have several considerations to make before recommending the reopening of commercial activity on an island.

“We have been monitoring implementation of public health measures on those islands,” she said. “We are looking at the inter-ministerial surveillance of those islands, to look at the traffic flows to the islands and we’re getting particular guidance on that matter. The third is the response of the local team. Many on the local team are asking us to phase in (reopening) because of the traffic that is occurring on the island, particularly on pleasure vessels. We use that guidance and we’re planning that if these measures remain or impact the no new cases for a particular period of time we will certainly recommend that they be considered for reopened for commercial activity.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country remained at 97 yesterday.

Dr Dahl-Regis also revealed that the latest COVID-19 case in the country, a 50-year-old man, was a missing contact who had to be tracked down by law enforcement.

“This person was known to health (officials),” she said. “He is the contact of a family member, contract tracing was initially challenged admittedly because he went back to work and then disappeared. Surveillance was assisted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Emergency Medical Services and I’m pleased to report to you that he is in a mandated government quarantine facility.”

She also stressed that though numbers are not growing rapidly, the pandemic is not over and urged people to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

Comments

geostorm 5 months ago

The Health team is doing an excellent job! Let's hope Bahamians can continue to adhere to these guidelines in order to keep the cases low so that they may be able to get back to work.

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joeblow 5 months ago

… this pandemic came like a slow moving Mack truck and the health team did not order appropriate tests or PPE's in adequate numbers, did not recommend the closure of the borders before or immediately after the first COVID 19 case was diagnosed, did not have a strategy to confine infected cases, did not have a means to track infected cases they sent to SELF isolate, did not stop the PM's orders that caused people to panic and congregate in order to further spread the virus, set up a covid hotline but told people with symptoms to self isolate without followup (I personally know several people), have done zero antibody tests that are public knowledge, have tested less than 0.5% of the population and cannot given an accurate reporting of how many people may have immunity to the infection but you say what?

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ISpeakFacts 5 months ago

Well said @joeblow, but you shouldn't be surprised that this country has alot of slow people who think like @geostorm, the buffoons in this country also think the government has done a great job when it came to Hurricane Dorian. It took 9 months to burry 70+ bodies that were locked inside a trailer behind the Marsh Harbour clinic, it's also been 9 months and Grand Bahama still doesn't have a working hospital, Abaco is still without water and power and doesn't even have proper shelters not to mention the very active 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season starts in ONE WEEK!!!

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WETHEPEOPLE 5 months ago

So keeping the masses at home whiles the country falls into economic collapse is a good job. If that had been the true reason for keeping Exuma and Eleuthera closed the PM would have known the answer from the get go, as it would have been already discussed. Eventually we will have to learn to live and deal with this virus, so why continue to let islands with no covid cases continue to face economic hardship. Its funny how i need a travel card to go an island in my country, when the foreigner can just sail in on his yacht. I hope when you are paying 15% vat, and the murder rate goes up because of the lack of jobs, i hope you are still clapping then.

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stillwaters 5 months ago

Get a yacht then ......and sail in too

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birdiestrachan 5 months ago

No disrespect to this Doctor. But why was she appointed to the PM office. when there was already a minister of Health Dr: Sands at that time. It made no sense.

She will do well to keep her integrity and not fall into the devils trap. When she talks about people being able to go to those Islands, that Doctor Minnis choose not to open.

But it is the peoples time. They do not know any better doc believes this.

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TalRussell 5 months ago

A red field of dishonor pathway towards public career destruction!
So sad how Imperialists' authoritarianism red coats regime has made it much difficult for the colony's well-meaning and educated comrade officials who under normal circumstances are not seen as bungling incompetents to keep their public role's faces in check. Nod once for yeah, Twice for no?

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