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Davis calls for extensive testing as country prepares to reopen

Philip Brave Davis.

Ahead of the planned reopening of the country’s borders to international visitors, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday urged the government to implement a new COVID-19 testing strategy for those who work with or near tourists.

In a statement, Davis said, “We need to conduct regular and extensive testing for Bahamians who work with or near visitors.

“We know that the virus can be spread by people before they feel sick or develop symptoms. We know the virus can be spread by infected individuals who never experience symptoms. Because the virus can spread silently and quickly throughout our communities, we cannot wait until Bahamians develop symptoms to implement testing.

“We need new testing protocols and in addition, every Bahamian who wants a test should be able to receive one. Testing will allow us to make visible a virus that spreads invisibly. Along with a serious plan for testing, the government must provide transparency about our capacity to conduct contact tracing and isolation of any positive cases, including plans for each of our Family Islands.”

Borders are set to open on Wednesday, July 1, as the tourism industry begins the second phase of its reopening.

The government has specified that all travelers coming into the country must first test negative for COVID-19, but some quarters have expressed concern over recent spikes in positive cases in the United States where the majority of tourists originate from.

Davis noted such concerns in his statement.

“Because of the lag time between taking the test, receiving the results, and the day of travel, a negative result is not a guarantee that a visitor is not carrying the virus,” he said.

“The requirement for a negative test result reduces but does not eliminate the risk that a visitor is infected. As the case numbers in the United States continue to rise at an alarming rate, I urge the government to announce a serious and comprehensive testing strategy in The Bahamas that begins as tourists return.”

Some quarters have expressed concern over the national testing rate, but Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who is also acting minister of health, said last month that widespread testing for COVID-19 is not as necessary in The Bahamas as in other larger countries because contact tracing is “more than adequate”.

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