‘Possibility’ of new COVID-19 mutations being in the country


Tribune Staff Reporter


WITH a number of new COVID-19 infections linked to recent travel, a local health union official believes it is likely that new COVID-19 variants detected abroad could already be here in The Bahamas.

However, Consultant Physicians Staff Association Vice President Dr John Dillett told The Tribune yesterday it’s difficult to know for certain as the country still does not have the capacity for the genomic sequencing that is needed to test for more infectious COVID-19 mutations.

Dozens of countries worldwide have since detected the mutations that were originally found in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, with the UK variant said to be the most dominant strain now in the US.

Last week, Health Minister Renward Wells told reporters there was “no evidence” that any of the new coronavirus strains were present in the country after dozens of positive samples sent abroad earlier this year produced negative results for the COVID-19 mutations.

However, since March, the country has seen a sustained uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, with some of the new cases related to travel.

Between Thursday to Sunday, the nation recorded 121 new cases, the lion’s share—53—were recorded on Friday.

Twenty-five new cases were recorded on Thursday, 22 on Saturday and 21 on Sunday.

Nineteen of the cases recorded during that period had a recent travel history, according to the Ministry of Health.

According to officials, additional test samples have been sent to a reference laboratory in Trinidad, which is said to have a quicker turnaround time for test results on the new strains.

Asked about the likelihood of the new mutations being in country, Dr Dillett told this newspaper yesterday: “Certainly, there’s a possibility.”

“Without testing or having a test result is difficult to know for certain and as we continue to have tourists and our citizens continue to travel abroad, the chances of having the virus variant come home is very real.

“I believe that it was Dr (Anthony) Fauci from the United States who said that the United Kingdom variant was the dominant variant that’s there in the United States so it’s very possible that as we continue to travel in terms of Bahamian citizens and we allow visitors in even though we do have protocols, nothing is 100 percent fool proof. It’s very possible that at some point, if not already, the variants could be here at our shores.”

With COVID numbers are on the rise again, Dr Dillett said it has become even more critical for Bahamians to follow all of the health protocols.

He said many countries are now reaping the results of letting their guards down and that The Bahamas also could face a similar situation if it becomes relaxed.

“We need to reinvigorate our measures in terms of social distancing and hygiene and wearing masks,” he said. “We need to get back to those basics. We can’t allow large groupings and obviously persons are going to travel and all of those exposures, we have to get back to the basics in terms of what got us to a place where we’re at very limited and low levels of transmission in The Bahamas.

“. . .We have to stay the course and we have to remember that this is going to be a drawn-out process that will take many months or years before we see the end.”

Both the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party has faced heavy criticism for hosting campaign gatherings which featured more than 20 people since current rules restrict social gatherings on New Providence.

Despite suggestions from Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan last week that political gatherings should not be happening amid the pandemic, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and FNM supporters were seen canvassing the St Anne’s constituency on Saturday.

While campaigning, Dr Minnis told a local daily he has no plans to increase COVID-19 restrictions, despite a recent uptick in virus cases on several islands.

Total COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 9,460 after 21 new cases were recorded on Sunday.

Health officials also confirmed another virus-related death: a 75-year-old woman from Andros who died on April 11.

Her death has pushed the nation’s COVID death toll to 190.

According to Dr Dillett, the major health unions are set to meet with the Ministry of Health later this week about their COVID-19 concerns.


ThisIsOurs 3 years, 1 month ago

"last week, Health Minister Renward Wells told reporters there was “no evidence” that any of the new coronavirus strains were present in the country after dozens of positive samples sent abroad earlier this year produced negative results for the COVID-19 mutations."

Anyone with a brain knows it's here. Just as anyone with a brain knows the current numbers had nothing to do with Bahsmians in the beach over Easter weekend. The exponential rise in cases started well before Easter.Just as anyone with a brain knew what the hotel exec revealed today. Some guests travelled on planes with Bahamians, took taxi cabs, checked in at front desk and tested positive . "Tourists" brought the virus and the vafiant


carltonr61 3 years, 1 month ago

Stop talking garbage. So what happened to to our flu, head cold, snotty nose, allergies and pneumonia season? Did Covid eradicate and made extinct our 100year old record keeping for our hot cold hot cold drafty weather? Every thing is Covid. Soom Dr strangebrain out there is trying for another lockdown, forced vaccination then permanent collection of travel $60.00 per head, while we fret for survival. We are so stupid as even after Covid Dr Strangebrain will be collecting $60.00 ×4million in tourists. They after money not our health. Damned medical pirates and robbers.


carltonr61 3 years, 1 month ago

https://www.rt.com/uk/520970-engalnd-...">https://www.rt.com/uk/520970-engalnd-... Bahamians are stupid we don't have internet. What happens around the world is often repeated here.


carltonr61 3 years, 1 month ago

The PLP has suspiciously not questioned this administration $60.00/head for travel. Only the DNA dared our elites then got locked up. Says a lot. This crew will pale our former drug tainted gov. They are killing our economy and tourism to make way for them collecting billions in health travel taxes for life.


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