Doctor warns of possible need to tighten travel


Tribune Staff Reporter


A SENIOR physician has said the government might have to toughen COVID-19 travel restrictions if The Bahamas sees a surge of infections as a result of the recent holiday celebrations coupled with a new COVID-19 strain already spreading in some parts of the world.

Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) President Sabriquet Pinder-Butler told The Tribune yesterday it’s a watch-and-wait game for doctors.

While stressing that workers have already “mentally prepared” themselves for each case scenario, Dr Pinder-Butler also said if COVID conditions were to worsen in the country, the government might have to revisit certain restrictions, specifically relating to travel.

“So certainly, the travel restrictions or protocols are always something that’s not an easy thing to make determinations on, especially from the view of The Bahamas just re-opening,” she said.

“But again, we have to also look at those things and balance it with the health of the nation. I think that certainly if we’re seeing further increases or seeing an impact from other strains of COVID or COVID in general, I think it’s something the Ministry of Health and the government would have to look into perhaps tightening certain restrictions as it relates to travel,” she said.

She added: “But having said that, I think we must also be mindful because we also have inter-island travel and certain things are certainly not in place for persons coming from other islands and we know that that sometimes also creates loopholes for other things coming into the country.

“…So, I think that’s why we have to watch very carefully to see what’s happening because if we realise that we’re having increase in cases and other countries are having challenges then we might have to revisit (what) we have put in place to protect the Bahamian residents and to make sure that we’re able to survive beyond COVID.”

Her comments come after the Progressive Liberal Party task force called on the government to adopt “more proactive and transparent” COVID-19 policies to safeguard the country against the new threat.

The mutation, which was first spotted in the UK, has already been detected in more than 30 countries – including the US.

“Given that a significant portion of our visitors come from the United States, and that there is robust travel of Bahamians to and from the United States, the government of The Bahamas must move quickly to protect our country from a third wave that could bring great suffering,” the PLP task force said in a statement Tuesday.

Recommendations made by the group includes the government widely consulting with the medical and business communities on the new strain, revising the current travel protocols as necessary to reduce the likelihood of imported cases and ensuring that local hospitals are prepared to isolate any potential cases of the new virus among other things.

In response to the new infectious strain, some nations have tightened restrictions and even issued travel bans. The UK announced a national lockdown on Monday to combat further spread of the mutation.

Local health officials here have already said it’s only a matter of time before the new strain reaches the country’s shores.

Dr Pinder-Butler said it’s possible The Bahamas may have already had cases of the new infectious COVID-19 strain which have not yet been confirmed.

However, the CPSA president said it’s encouraging that the new strain does not appear to be more deadly.

“I think at this particular time when we look at what we’ve been seeing in other countries with other strains, we’ve not necessarily seen that there’s been any increase in deaths...which is a good thing even though it sounds to be a bit more infectious so meaning persons can catch it easier,” she said.

For her part, Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams also said nurses are keeping a close eye on the situation.

However, she said, it is important that everyone does their part and continue practising the health protocols to help keep the new strain at bay and also, prevent further COVID-19 spread.

Ms Williams told this newspaper: “We’ve not let our guards down. We’re still aware that all of these things are still happening and around us and we’re just a little dot on the map so we know that... (but) we’re praying that it have a different shift and just like we never had the Ebola, there’s a possibility that we could not have the (new COVID) strain also, so let’s keep moving and let’s keep praying and exercising and following the guidelines of the healthcare that provides for the public and that’s the most important thing.”


happyfly 1 year, 7 months ago

If we let them - These doctors and politicians will lock us down until we are all starving peasants. Look around you folks. There are more bodies lying in the street from gunshot wounds than this so-called pandemic. Yes, there is a virus out there that can be dangerous for the old and infirm but the two weeks lockdown to flatten the curve is now looking like forever? In the meantime, there is a growing number of us who have survived covid with nothing more than flu-like symptoms and I have to wonder if we all really need to become dirtbag poor refuges playing along with this game


tetelestai 1 year, 7 months ago

So, I guess California and the UK locking down is just for the politicians and the doctors' shits and giggles. Idiot.


FrustratedBusinessman 1 year, 7 months ago


No. They love to lockdown everyone else while they get their shits and giggles from being able to do whatever they want without regard for the very rules that they make.


proudloudandfnm 1 year, 7 months ago

The new strain discovered in South Africa may be immune to the vaccines. Time to close the border again.

67% more contagious.


TalRussell 1 year, 7 months ago

In China government officials are expected to follow full transparency and can expect to face 20 years to life imprisonment - or much harsher punishment, if they're found guilty of knowingly ignoring scientific advice thus placing themselves at even greater risk, should the health and lives of the PopoulacesOrdinary at large. (POAL) become further endangered. Shakehead a quick once for upyeahvote, Twice for not?


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