By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
LOCKDOWNS for North and Central Andros and Cat Island have been extended for an additional seven days, the Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday.
The lockdowns will now end at 5am on Monday, June 14.
The decision was met with criticism from Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, who is also the MP for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador.
“The extensions of the lockdowns in Central and North Andros and Cat Island are unnecessary,” Mr Davis said in a statement. “The Prime Minister, the competent authority, is only causing further misery by stubbornly refusing to take advice and learn from his mistakes.”
“The science could not be clearer: in order to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, or any other airborne infectious virus for that matter, you have to separate the people with the virus from the people who do not have the virus.
“In order to do that, you have to test widely, in order to know everyone’s status. Don’t just wait until people are showing symptoms, because by then it’s too late and they may well have infected others in their households. These are small communities on these islands, which makes it easier to test, trace and isolate.
“In the same way, these small communities are hurt especially badly when their economies are locked down.”
Mr Davis suggested the government send a plane-load of testing personnel to each of the affected island communities and offer free testing to as many people as possible.
He said once the results are known, those who are positive should be separated from those who do not have the virus, allowing COVID-19 negative people to carry on with their lives, keeping the local economies alive.
He said this plan would save lives and save the local economies.
“Seventeen months into this pandemic and it’s still beyond the competence of this government to get this right,” Mr Davis said. ‘It’s not that hard! It really doesn’t have to be this bad!”
The OPM’s statement outlined the permitted activities for residents during the lockdown.
“Residents of Andros should note that under the most recent amendment to the order, harvesting of crabs is permitted between 8pm and 5am or as otherwise approved by the Royal Bahamas Police officer in charge for North Andros or Central Andros. Farmers on North Andros, Central Andros and Cat Island are permitted to attend their farm to water, tend and harvest between the hours of 5am and 9am,” the release read.
Free National Movement North Andros and the Berry Islands MP Carlton Bowleg said the lockdown extension is necessary.
“We’re experiencing a lot of people with symptoms still and you know it’s necessary for it to continue,” he said.
As to what caused the cases to spike to warrant a lockdown in the first place, he pointed to people getting relaxed.
“A lot of people weren’t wearing their masks and you know the protocol that was in place (they) weren’t adhering (to it). We dropped the ball. We got relaxed and people were a little, I guess, comfortable and what happened was that we had people coming in and going out of their island and you know it could’ve come from there but I know there was a gathering in the Mastic Point area, the North Mastic Point area. . .there were a little other gatherings in different areas, also in nightclubs. You know just bars and stuff like that that could’ve contributed to this also.”
On Thursday, OPM announced the government had extended the lockdown for Bullocks Harbour and Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands for an additional two days. That lockdown ended today at 5am.
The measure was put in place for those islands to slow and control the spread of the COVID-19.
Yesterday, Mr Bowleg said the Berry Island community was “doing very well”.
“I think they’re going to be okay,” he added.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, as of June 5, total confirmed cases in the Berry Islands stood at 88, while Andros had 165 cases and Cat Island had 69.