Six people confirmed to have COVID-19 on Grand Bahama in the last week have been placed in quarantine in a secured facility being monitored by health professionals as well as police, immigration and defense force personnel, authorities said.
Five are Bahamians and one was identified as an undocumented immigrant.
Prior to two new cases on Grand Bahama last Wednesday, no new case had been reported on the island since May 5.
One additional case was reported on Thursday and three on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases on the island to 14 and the total confirmed cases in The Bahamas to 111.
Prior to July 8, the last confirmed case in the country was a New Providence case on June 14. An additional New Providence case was reported on Friday.
According to the Ministry of Health, one of the new cases reported on Grand Bahama on Saturday is a 16-year-old girl with a history of travel.
The second is a 47-year-old woman with no history of travel.
The third is a 39-year-old woman with a history of travel.
Prior to the release yesterday from the Grand Bahama COVID-19 Task Force, health officials had said all of the new cases with the exception of the 20-year-old male immigrant, were isolating at home. He was reported only to be “in isolation”.
The statement said members of the task force — including representatives of Grand Bahama Health Services, the police force, the defense force and the Department of Immigration — met at the Office of the Prime Minister on Saturday with Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson and Permanent Secretary Harcourt Brown.
The task force said contact tracing, in respect to all those being quarantined, has begun and all relevant agencies are working together to limit any possible exposure to the Bahamian public.
“Immigration officials are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure the safe and prompt repatriation of illegal immigrants recently held in custody and a local sanitization company has been hired to carry out the deep cleaning of all agencies situated in the C. A. Smith Building,” the statement read.
“We want to ensure the public that every precaution has been already taken to secure the health and safety of our frontline workers, public officers and staff, as well as the Bahamian public at large.”
The task force reminded Grand Bahamians to continue to be vigilant and to wear masks whenever out in public. They were also reminded to wash hands frequently and observe all social distancing protocols.
Dr. Frank Bartlett, who heads Grand Bahama’s COVID-19 task force, said it is still too early to say if there is community spread of the virus on the island.
“It’s premature to say that,” he said.
“Now the history that we have, that we only had sporadic cases and at no point in time we would have had community spread, makes it less likely. But that’s always going to be a consideration because, as you know, most cases are going to be asymptomatic.”
Thompson yesterday pleaded with Grand Bahamians to take COVID-19 seriously.
“We are very, very concerned with respect to the uptick in additional cases,” he said.
“We’ve had an additional six cases within a few days.”
Thompson added, “This is a wakeup call for those persons who have not been vigilant and who believe that COVID-19 has passed us. But we recognize that we are still in the middle of this pandemic and it still can affect us.
“I want to send out a plea to all Grand Bahamian businesses to ensure that all of their patrons wear their masks, that they [do] not allow anyone into their businesses without wearing masks.
“I want to send a plea out to all of our young people, wherever they gather [that] it is vital that when they gather, that they maintain social distancing and that they wear their masks.
“We also want to send out a plea to those Bahamians that have returned home and who are not abiding by the curfew regulations; it is extremely important for your safety and the safety of all Grand Bahamians that when you return, you abide by quarantine regulations and you listen to health professionals with respect to the quarantine regulations.”
East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest also warned people against gathering without masks and without ensuring physical distancing.
“That is obviously a Petri dish for the spread of the virus,” he said.
“The virus hasn’t gone anywhere; it’s still here.
“And we’ve had it under control because we’ve been disciplined, but I think we’ve gotten a little bit relaxed as a result of the several weeks that we didn’t have a case, let our defenses down, and we’re seeing the results of that.”
There have been 83 confirmed cases on New Providence, 13 on Bimini and one on Cat Cay.
There are 11 active cases in the country and no hospitalizations.
There have been 2,531 tests done, according to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard released yesterday.