Official doesn’t believe there is a Spanish Wells outbreak


Tribune Staff Reporter


AMID reports of rising COVID-19 infections on Spanish Wells, one community official said while there have been several cases recently reported for the island, he does not believe there is an outbreak.

This was revealed by the island’s chief councillor Robert Roberts, who told The Tribune yesterday that several locals in the community tested positive for infectious virus after taking a rapid COVID-19 antigen test earlier this week.

He claimed the tests were the first to have ever been carried out at the small community since the start of the pandemic and the results have not yet been confirmed by the PCR diagnostic tests, which are considered to be more accurate.

“I mean up until day before yesterday, which was Monday, there had been no testing of any form done on the island, so prior to that who knows if there had been any COVID cases,” Mr Roberts told this newspaper.

“But in this event, we did have some positive tests based on rapid tests. None of them have been confirmed with a PCR test. We have nobody that is exhibiting any of the signs of COVID. Maybe a couple of runny noses but so far, everything seems to be good. Any of the tests that were done were all rapid antigen tests.”

Mr Roberts could not say how many islanders yielded positive tests results after undergoing the new rapid antigen tests, only saying he does not believe the new cases means that there is a COVID outbreak on the island, contrary to widely circulated reports saying otherwise.

“I’m pretty certain that there are COVID-19 cases on the island, but no I wouldn’t call it an outbreak. We’ve been from March until October without having a single test administered and we know we’ve heard it from our neighbouring countries, the more you test the more you will find,” he said.

“So, I’m sure that COVID was peeking around the bush somewhere but I would hate to label it an outbreak because then all that does is creates a scenario of ‘what’s going on?’ You got 1,600 people here and you got 15 cases and all of a sudden it’s an outbreak.

“As of this morning, when I got up there has been no back-up PCR test for those persons that tested positive. Mind you these tests, these rapid tests came from Doctors Hospital — the ones you are using in Nassau.”

There has been an increase of COVID-19 cases in several Family Islands over the last several weeks – in particular Eleuthera and the Berry Islands.

COVID-19 restrictions were eased on those islands in August, allowing for residents there to resume indoor church services, curbside business activity and outdoor dining.

But, due to the recent uptick of cases, health officials said earlier this month they have made recommendations for more restrictions to be added to those islands.

Asked yesterday ahead of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ COVID-19 update if the community would welcome more restrictions, Mr Roberts shied away from giving a direct answer, only saying the country must learn to coexist with the virus.

Still, he said, if more restrictions were to be implemented, residents would have no choice but to adhere to the guidelines.

“We will do whatever we need to do, of course, but I don’t know how can you shut down an island economy whether it be the entire Eleuthera, Spanish Wells or Harbour Island based on rapid tests,” he said.

On Tuesday, Eleuthera recorded an additional COVID-19 case, pushing the island’s total to 64.


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