St. Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday following possible exposure at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) during Minister of Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira’s report to the nation last week.
“Late this afternoon, I got my results back and Doctors Hospital said it was positive,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“Now what prompted me to go and take a test was that last week, during the report from the minister of environment and housing, there was an exposure. Somebody on the staff of BIS (Bahamas Information Services) [tested positive].
“I was in the room, as were some other public servants, and so that prompted me to go and take a test. And that test was taken yesterday.”
The MP attended the event in his capacity as executive chairman of the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority.
Cartwright said he is fortunate to be asymptomatic.
“Right now I’m having no symptoms,” he said.
“So definitely my situation, my response, pales in comparison to the 90-plus lives that have been lost to this and many other Bahamians who have been impacted by COVID-19 in a real transformative way.
“So, my prayers continue to go out for those families that have been affected and those who are in hospital right now and who are convalescing.”
Cartwright said he tested positive even after diligently following the protocols set forth by the Ministry of Health.
“No one wants to test positive,” he said.
“We are in uncertain times and unprecedented times. And while I wouldn’t have wanted this outcome, even after having continuously followed the protocols, wearing masks, sanitizing my hands constantly, washing my hands, as per the directives of the health professionals, it just goes to show you that even when you are doing the ideal routine, this can happen.
“And it can happen to anyone.”
Cartwright is now the fourth MP to have tested positive for COVID. Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis and Central and South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson confirmed weeks ago they tested positive.
It is not known who the other MP is.
PLP Senator Dr. Michael Darville also tested positive weeks ago.
Cartwright said the test he took on Monday was his third, noting he was tested after a trip abroad in August, and again earlier this month following an exposure in the House of Assembly.
Just two weeks ago, it was revealed that a parliamentary staffer who had worked during the September 9 sitting of the House had tested positive for COVID.
While House Speaker Halson Moultrie at the time called for all MPs to quarantine and for the House to meet virtually, that did not happen.
Attorney General Carl Bethel said it was not necessary because the House staffers wore masks the entire time and the MPs wore masks “most of the time”.
The House has met twice since the exposure.
Some parliamentarians, including St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette and former Ministry of Health Dr. Duane Sands, have since called for the House to meet virtually until a larger venue can be found.
Cartwright said yesterday that he believes virtual meetings would be best.
“I think that the virtual meeting is ideal,” he said.
“I mean, many persons in corporate Bahamas and churches, even though it’s not ideal, they have been having their virtual sermons and virtual worship sessions.
“So, obviously these are the times that we are in, and we have to find ways to adjust. Obviously, there are some parliamentary considerations. But I am sure that there can be some way to reconcile what are some of our commitments from a parliamentary standpoint as well as being responsible as it relates to this pandemic.”
Cartwright said his experience has emphasized the need for everyone to be responsible and follow protocols.
“What it does is reinforce the need for us to continue to be responsible in every which way, both businesses as well as regular citizens, understanding that each of us is responsible for each other’s health and to continue to follow the guidelines by the public health professionals,” he said.
In a statement last night, Cartwright added, “At the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority, where I am chairman, the welfare of all our team members and the general public is of paramount concern. Accordingly, a separate statement will be released to appraise staff and the public of sanitization and operations at the authority.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest have both previously gone into quarantine after someone who works at OPM tested positive.