Doctor’s concern over rethink on rapid testing


Tribune Staff Reporter


A SENIOR physician yesterday raised concerns about the reversal of protocol for antigen testing on arrival in the country, saying the relaxed measures have many loopholes that could potentially lead to negative consequences for the country.

The doctor’s comments came after Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar announced new travel requirements on Saturday, when he noted travellers will not be required to take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test upon arrival. Instead, visitors and returning residents will have to do so on the fifth day of the visit (unless departing on that day).

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) president Sabriquet Pinder-Butler said it was unfortunate that the association and other health stakeholders were not consulted before the government’s decision to scrap the antigen testing on arrival.

Calling the new protocols “concerning”, she said in order for the country to successfully defeat the virus, there must be a concerted effort by all parties involved to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

This, she added, is to ensure that everyone is made aware of the risks involved so as not to add further strain to an already burdened healthcare system.

“We know that there are also insurmountable cases in various countries that we have a lot of our tourists coming in from like the USA and we know that Europe is seeing an increase so when we look at what are the measures in place to make sure that we’re not adding to an already overwhelmed or overburdened system, certainly we’re always watching,” she said.

“We were hopeful that we would’ve been involved in the discussions related to what that would mean but we were not engaged as we should have been unfortunately and, so when we know that we are no longer having quarantine and in addition to that, persons are having to test let’s say five days out, but only persons who are potentially staying for five days or more may be doing another test. What may potentially happen in that interim?”

She continued: “Are we saying that it means persons who are staying less days are just going to be those persons who still will be asymptomatic or not positive and then they would have already interacted with so many persons in the country? Do we even have a system in play that will allow us to even know that, because my understanding is because they are not quarantining there, there’s no true facility that will allow for policing because you know they are no longer required to put Hubbcatt (a quarantine tracking app) on their phones?

“I think that is very risky to say the least because we are not having specific tourists or travel bubbles in a sense where we are only allowing them to stay in certain quarters and that sort of thing.”

All persons entering the country are required to have a negative PCR test no older than five days.

The CPSA president while health stakeholders are cognisant of the need to re-start the country’s leading industry and get people back to work, they also want to make sure that the nation is reopening in a safe manner that will not put its residents at greater risk.

“We appreciate that the economy needs a boost and we’ve been saying that for a while but we want to make sure that we do it as safely as possible and that we are not doing last minute changes at the ninth or tenth hour and wondering what to do now,” Dr Pinder-Butler said.

“….It’s concerning. We again want to encourage the government to properly engage as many persons as possible in healthcare and the Bahamian population because we are all in this together. None of us can do it without each other.

“I think that by now, we would have appreciated that and been on the ball but I don’t think we are and until that happens, we’re going to continue to have these things where everybody is looking in amazement and wondering if they just heard these announcements especially considering what you had previously advised.”

Bahamas Nurses Union president Amancha Williams also echoed similar sentiments, highlighting the need for better communication between the government and relevant stakeholders on the matter.

“We need to know where these people are going to be going and we need to know where their stop points are, what are they going to do? Are they only going to remain in Paradise Island?” she asked.

“We need to make sure strict protocols are set in place if we want to open back up. Make sure we are all in agreement in decision making and what we want for our country and where we want to go.”

In a statement released yesterday, Living with COVID Coalition (LWCC) said the government’s decision to remove the antigen testing upon arrival has not impacted its operations and even makes it more critical for employers to ensure that their workers are protected.

The non-for-profit coalition partnered with the tourism industry ahead of the country’s re-opening to ensure The Bahamas has access to as many as three million World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health-approved COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.

“The removal of the ability to screen at ports of entry creates an even more urgent need to reduce the risk of viral transmission in the workplace and in the local community as well as to reduce the potential additional burden to the healthcare system,” the coalition said.

“Rapid antigen tests are cost effective and provide results in approximately 30 minutes, enabling employers and individuals to be tested more frequently, and for those who test positive for the coronavirus, to self-isolate more quickly.”


tribanon 3 years, 6 months ago

Bottom line: D'Aguilar and Minnis could no longer care less about how many elderly Bahamians with pre-existing medical conditions are killed in a most horrible and terrifying way by the deadly Communist Chinese Virus.


joeblow 3 years, 6 months ago

We are a failed state. There is little we can do right that is worth talking about!

Ego combined with ignorance is a potent mix and both are prominent in government. The outcome of this decision is obvious to everyone but those who lead.

Will there be a volume off visitors to justify what will be a catastrophic mistake. Who wants to come to a third world country that is at the bottom of all countries in handling this pandemic?

We could have been further ahead if the government was just willing to listen to common sense options. Their decisions are proof that they are unqualified to continue in office. The "incompetent authoritarian" should be make to resign!


UN 3 years, 6 months ago

It seems people are forgetting that no money to buy food & water equals eventual death. Focusing on covid but ignoring the other eventual casualties. There must be a balance.


ohdrap4 3 years, 6 months ago

This doctor, as well as that one from paho just needs to sit down and be silent.


benniesun 3 years, 6 months ago

@ohdrap4 - I agree with you on this. Even if the virus exists it is not as deadly as the common flu. Economies worldwide are on the brink of failure and they are focusing on protecting the few compromised individuals instead of facilitating the healthy majority. Their approach is causing the healthy to become compromised thereby increasing mortality.


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