By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Prime Minister Peter Turnquest and Works Minister Desmond Bannister have tested negative for COVID-19 after two staff members at the House of Assembly were confirmed positive.
Both ministers gave the news ahead of yesterday’s Cabinet meeting when asked by The Tribune whether they had taken a COVID-19 test.
Mr Turnquest told reporters while he has tested negative, there is always a concern whenever someone contracts the disease as ministers are just as vulnerable as anyone else.
He also revealed Cabinet members intended to have discussions about the matter during yesterday’s meeting on how Assembly proceedings will proceed going forward.
He said the decision will be based on the recommendations of health officials.
“I have tested again after the last scare last week, negative thank God, but you know anybody that is tested positive is obviously a concern for the government,” he said. “We are as vulnerable as anybody else in the community and so we take it seriously and with the same level of concern.
“Unfortunately, this virus is with us and these things are going to happen repeatedly until we do the things as we said that we need to do to stop the spread. As to what will happen tomorrow (Wednesday), I guess we will decide that today when we go into our Cabinet meetings but again all I can say is we follow the health protocols as we did last week on the advice of the health professionals and depending on that they tell us – we will act accordingly.”
Mr Bannister told reporters he had tested negative over the weekend, despite not being present in Parliament for the past two weeks.
“I’ve tested and I’ve tested negative and remember now I haven’t been in the House of Assembly last week, so I haven’t been there for two weeks, but I tested negative on the weekend,” he said. “And I would urge all of you, every Bahamian who has been around someone who tested positive to get your test.”
Their comments come after officials revealed a second confirmed COVID-19 case at the House of Assembly, nearly a week after the first case.
House Speaker Halson Moultrie told The Tribune on Monday only four of Parliament’s 17 staff members have taken the COVID-19 test to date, including himself, Parliamentary Clerk David Forbes and the two positive cases.
“It is a concern of mine that it is taking an inordinate amount of time to get these tests done,” he said. “I think some of the difficulties would be that some persons are afraid to take the test, second some don’t have the proper facility established that Doctors Hospital demands, some people may not be in the financial position to pay for the test.”
Mr Moultrie, who voluntarily entered self-quarantine after the first case, is expected to be present during today’s sitting as his quarantine period would have ended.
When asked about the issue yesterday, Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson replied, “no comment”.
Former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands has since called for a full investigation by public health officials.