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Confusion over COVID-19 results

Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, health consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, said yesterday the Ministry of Health is awaiting COVID-19 test results for the more than 100 Mexican workers who recently traveled to The Bahamas.

However, last night, an executive for Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club, where the workers have been contracted to assist with Hurricane Dorian reconstruction efforts, insisted that the COVID-19 test results, which are all negative, for the foreigners had been given to the ministry.

Videos and photos recently surfaced on social media showing dozens of purportedly Mexican men as they departed an aircraft and checked in at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

The images have caused some public concern about the COVID status of the men.

Health officials yesterday appeared confused when questioned about whether the foreigners had tested negative for the virus prior to arriving in The Bahamas.

When The Nassau Guardian initially proposed the question, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan replied, “Regarding the question that you have asked, this has come to our attention that potentially persons would have come into the country and we are in the process of seeking to determine whether or not this is actually so, and we are reaching out to the persons who potentially would be able to provide the information to us.

“We have gotten some evidence that these persons may have sought to come into the country.

“We have not as yet received the COVID negative test but we are seeking to determine if it is so that there were supposedly a number of persons who would have sought to come into the country without having gone through the process.”

Moments later, Dahl-Regis noted that “information was just recently passed to me”.

“…Indeed, we had a landing of nationals from South America that came in,” she told reporters during a Ministry of Health press conference.

“We are investigating this as we speak. But, I want to give you the assurance that health will require that each individual who landed present with a negative PCR test and if it has not been, if it doesn’t meet the qualifications, we will do it.

“We will do the test to be sure that we have no transmission and if there is a positive test we will deal with it.”

When pressed on whether the Mexicans had COVID-19 results upon arrival, Dahl-Regis responded, “We are told that they have had and we await receipt of those tests. Once we receive them, we will determine that they were good, valid, positive or negative.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Livingston Marshall, the senior vice president for environmental and community affairs at Baker’s Bay, told The Guardian, “I can say on the record all of the individuals were tested. All of the individuals who came in had COVID-19 negative tests. It is the test that government requires which is RT-PCR and I can say the test results have been shared with the Ministry of Health.

“We applied for the travel certificates online and the system generated it. All 135 have the travel card. Baker’s Bay is a responsible company.

“We are always going to adhere to the laws, rules and policies in The Bahamas, especially when it comes to protecting the well-being of our members, visitors and employees against COVID-19.”

Visitors and locals arriving in The Bahamas between July 1 and July 7 must present negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test results no more than 10 days old.

After July 7, visitors will need a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test taken no later than seven days prior to the day of arrival, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

“We have made the window of time for testing shorter for the protection of Bahamians and residents,” he said in a national address on Sunday.

There have been no new COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas since June 14.

The total stands at 104; four of which are active.

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