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BNU worried about lack of quarantine facilities

In light of the coronavirus claiming at least 80 lives globally, nurses in New Providence are concerned about the lack of quarantine facilities in the country, Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams said yesterday. 

“The Bahamas does not have a quarantine station,” Williams said. 

“That is the nurse’s challenge who works at the airport.

“We don’t have a suitable working environment at the airport. We need an exit and an entrance where we don’t expose the patient to everyone, and to alleviate the anxiety of those in the airport.

“We need an area that is fit for a nursing or an air clinic.”

She was responding to the new virus, coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, and has left at least 81 dead.

Williams added that she’s particularly concerned because the National Airport Development Company (NAD) recently celebrated a milestone record of 4.1 million visitors passing through the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in 2019. 

“That’s a lot of people,” said Williams.

“So, who do you think is at the end of these points ensuring that The Bahamas is healthy and immune to such diseases? The nurse and the doctor.

“They are the first persons that these people are going to come into contact with.”

In response, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said, “We are in the process of determining a strategy.

“We have engaged multiple stakeholders across the health system – customs officers, immigration officers, police officers, nurses, and doctors.

“This is a holistic issue. This is a national issue, and not every meeting is going to require the presence of the nurses union president.

“President Williams has unfettered access to the permanent secretary of health and the minister of health.

“She and I have spoken multiple times today. There’s no issue that she can’t get an answer about.”

Sands added that the country is in need of multiple quarantine facilities, and the ministry has been working on a rollout plan since it was made aware of the virus. 

“We need one at the airport,” he said.

“We need one at PMH. We need one at the Rand (Memorial Hospital).

“The Rand is down. You’re going to need one in most islands. So, this is not just an issue for this disease. It is an issue for infectious diseases in general.”

He added that if health officials had to quarantine a patient at this time, they have isolation rooms.

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