The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is once again advising travelers to avoid The Bahamas, due to the very high level of COVID-19 in the country.
Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper said yesterday that, due to the recent deluge of COVID cases in the country, the CDC’s revised advisory was not a surprise.
“However, during the latest wave of COVID-19 infections, we have not noticed a dramatic increase in hospitalizations for severe symptoms and deaths have been rare,” he said in a statement.
“As the minister of health has pointed out, we believe we are at or nearing a peak in this wave of COVID-19 infections.
“Despite what appears to be milder symptoms from this variant, the Ministry of Tourism remains vigilant and poised to pivot when needed.”
Cooper said hotel properties in the country are taking the necessary measures to ensure guests have a safe experience.
He pointed to the current testing regime required for visitors and the recently launched free testing.
“In addition, our healthcare system has recently been bolstered by additional nurses and doctors,” he said.
“We are hopeful that we will see a drop off in infection numbers in the coming weeks. When this happens, we are confident that the rating will be favorably reviewed.
“In the meantime, we are satisfied that our health protocols remain strong.”
The Bahamas has seen a dramatic spike in COVID cases.
Since January 1, more than 6,000 new COVID cases were reported.
COVID hospitalizations have also spiked rising from 36 on January 1 to 148 on January 17.
Health officials believe the highly transmissible Omicron variant is in the country and is contributing to the spread.
The CDC uses travel health notices to alert travelers to health threats around the world and uses scale, ranging from level 1, low COVID cases, to level 4, very high COVID cases, to measure countries’ COVID situation.
The Bahamas was given a level 4 rating yesterday.
Tourism officials have said that the level 4 rating is particularly damaging to the meetings, incentives, conferences and expos business.
The CDC warned travelers that if they must visit The Bahamas to ensure that they are fully vaccinated.
A spokesperson previously said that the CDC uses several indicators when amending travel notices including new case counts and new cases’ trajectory over 28 consecutive days.