Following a meeting with senior clergymen, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday that church leaders have agreed to cancel church services to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.
Minnis said the senior pastors agreed that the decision is in the best interest of the country.
“They all understand the circumstances of the situation that we face today,” Minnis said in a communication in the House of Assembly.
“And the pastors agree that we must, in order to win this battle that we face, we must not make mistakes that other countries have made. And we may have to introduce apt measures.
“And they do understand and agree that social distancing has to be introduced, and they are prepared to immediately introduce social distancing by canceling their services and keeping their services via the internet.
“That is great responsibility and maturity on behalf of the pastors, showing their support for what has to be done and to show that they put country before self.”
Minnis’ comments came as he revealed that there are now three cases of the disease in The Bahamas.
On Sunday, the country’s first COVID-19 patient was identified as a 61-year-old woman who had no recent travel history. Minnis said that, so far, 30 of the woman’s contacts have been identified. Her household contacts are in quarantine and being tested. As he tabled a proclamation by the governor general declaring a public state of emergency and the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, Minnis warned that the steps needed to mitigate the impact of the virus may be a difficult one. He said the process will require sacrifices from all Bahamians.
The tabled regulations grant wide-ranging powers to the prime minister that will allow for, among other things, the detention of people infected with COVID-19 or those who traveled to infected places; the possible prohibition of assembly of two or more people in any specific area; the requisition of any building, ship or aircraft; a curfew; social distancing and isolation orders; restricted access to specified areas; and the prohibition of publishing or reposting false stories.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and in severe cases, pneumonia and even sepsis.
As of yesterday, there were nearly 215,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in at least 144 countries, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
At least 8,700 people have died from the disease.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last week. Shortly after, it announced that the epicenter of the pandemic is now Europe.
Minnis announced earlier this week that foreigners who have been in the UK or Europe in the past 20 days will not be allowed entry into The Bahamas. Bahamians who have recently visited the region will face quarantine upon entering The Bahamas.
At last report, there were at least 7,000 confirmed cases in the United States and 112 deaths.