With fears about the spread of the novel coronavirus worsening, Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson confirmed yesterday that the Department of Immigration will not grant work permits to anyone from China.
“At this stage, we’re not granting any work permits for anybody coming from the area,” he said outside Cabinet.
The virus has already killed more than 1,000 people worldwide as authorities battle to contain the spread. There are more than 40,000 cases of the virus, which causes fever, fatigue, and pneumonia in some cases.
Johnson said even a single case of the deadly virus could be disastrous for The Bahamas.
“Just one could wreak havoc on this country,” he said.
“So, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Johnson could not say how long the ban will be in place. He said the government is guided by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This epidemic is growing. I’d prefer [Minister of Health Dr. Duane] Sands or PAHO or the World Health Organization to answer that question,” he said.
“But until we get the green light, nobody is to come in.”
The work permit ban is not the only measure the government has taken in response to the virus.
Last month, Sands announced that travelers with a recent history of travel to areas of China “affected” by the novel coronavirus will likely be placed in isolation for a two-week period as a precaution to prevent the introduction of the deadly virus into Bahamian jurisdiction.
Sands said that as of yesterday, 13 people were under quarantine.