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Bimini spikes

New COVID cluster linked to resort

Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday that a team from the Ministry of Health has been dispatched to Bimini to investigate a recent spike in COVID-19 cases on the island.

“I had asked the acting chief medical officer to dispatch a team down to Bimini so we can get a better sense [of] what is going on in regards to the spike in cases down there,” he told The Nassau Guardian.

“Once they would have sent down the Surveillance Unit that’s going to do the requisite contacting tracing, it gives us a better idea as to what is going on in Bimini.”

On Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported 43 new cases – 11 of those cases were reported on Bimini and Cat Cay. Six new cases were reported on Bimini and Cat Cay on Monday. 

The ministry said that the new cases reported “indicate evidence of clustering that is linked to a local resort”.

The resort was not identified.

The spike was reported days after the Resorts World Bimini implemented a policy that requires employees, who travel to another island, to quarantine for 72 hours and test negative for COVID-19 before returning to work.

Resorts World did not respond to inquiries about the reported spike.

However, David Winslow, the resort’s vice president of human resources, told The Guardian, “Resorts World takes the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. Although progress has been made in reducing the spread of the disease, it is far from over. Now is not the time to let our guard down.

“To ensure the safety of all team members, families, our community, and our guests, Resorts World Bimini has implemented measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures have been reviewed by governmental officials.”

While noting the recently implemented “stringent measures”, West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe yesterday described the 11 newly reported cases as “alarming”.

“It was to my understanding that many of the employees at the resort probably weren’t necessarily aware of these cases when management gave out that letter the past week,” she said.

“And so, first and foremost, it is alarming. I think that it has to be dealt with effectively. Now whether or not the employees of the resort are adhering to the safety protocols, this is something that we have to reiterate. I do believe that is alarming.”

Parker-Edgecombe was critical of the resort’s last week.

Yesterday, she again appealed to Bimini residents to adhere to COVID protocols.

She said they must get to the point where the protocols are taken seriously for their personal health.

“There is only so much that can be done by the various entities, medical officials,” Parker-Edgecombe said.

“We now have to get to the point where we take it seriously for ourselves. But this is alarming and quite frankly it’s not good.”

Bimini was the first island to report a COVID-related death during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Bahamas last year.

It was also the first island to be declared a COVID hotspot.

And the first island to be put under a 14-day lockdown.

As of Sunday, 160 COVID-19 cases have been reported on Bimini and Cat Cay.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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