By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOUR people who travelled to The Bahamas during the country’s first week of re-opening tested positive for COVID-19 five days after arrival, health officials revealed on Friday.
During a Ministry of Health Press conference, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen identified one of the travellers as a Bahamian and the other three as work permit holders.
He said they travelled to New Providence and Grand Bahama, adding that each individual had produced a negative RT-PCR test prior to travel.
“Those individuals all had negative PCR tests prior to traveling and they exhibited no symptoms during their travels and so their risk of having transmitted it during the actual travel time period is small,” he said.
According to Dr Brennen, the four positive cases were among the 1,691 travelers who entered the country between November 1 to November 6 – the country’s first week of reopening.
Out of that number, 752 submitted to a rapid antigen tests five days after arrival as mandated by the latest travel protocols, while 939 did not have testing done.
The high numbers relating to those who did not have testing, according to Dr Brennen, is partly because many of travellers who entered the Bahamas did not remain in the country for five days.
He said on Friday: “So, what we can account for travelers for November 1 to November 6, there were 1,691 travellers who travelled into the country and of those for testing, there were 752 of that number who were compliant with the five day testing and there were 939 of that grouping who did not have testing done.
“Do remember that, of that 939, that also includes persons who did not stay over the five day time period as well so there’s more data gathering that will have to be done of that grouping to aggregate those numbers.
“But what we can say is of the 752 persons who actually did get tested, there were four known positives. All of that information did come to the Ministry of Health through the portal that’s been established by the Ministry of Tourism.”
Currently, all travellers entering the Bahamas – inclusive of visitors and residents – are required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test no older than five days and have an approved Bahamas health travel visa.
Visitors are also required to take the rapid antigen test five days after arriving in the country. Failure to do so could result in a $1,000 fine or one-month prison sentence.
During Friday’s press conference, Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan said the Ministry of Health is currently updating its protocols regarding the use of the antigen test on symptomatic carriers.
“The rapid antigen tests on symptomatic persons will be incorporated into our national surveillance system as positives,” she said. “We are in the process to update are protocols to include that.
“ . . . We are currently seeking to ensure that all persons or all entities that are seeking to conduct antigen tests are registered with the ministry similar to what we did with the real time PCR verification and validation process.”
She added: “ We are moving forward with inviting all persons who are carrying antigen tests or who wish to be apart of antigen testing to please make a request to the ministry of health in order for us to ensure that tests are occurring on symptomatic persons and are reported to the minority of health so that we can carry out the necessary contact tracing.”
On Friday, Health Minister Renward Wells also gave update on the ministry’s SalivaDirect test pilot programme, noting the programme is being rolled out in several Family Islands - including Bimini, Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence.