Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Davis said given the protocols put in place by the government for Bahamians and visitors to follow upon the reopening of the country’s borders, Grand Bahamians are now being made to suffer due to the government’s “missteps”.
“Grand Bahama unfortunately has been traumatized by Dorian, and having gone through that traumatic experience, the handling and missteps in relation to the coronavirus is going to yet again cause pain. It is the Bahamian people who are suffering. It is us who are being punished for their missteps,” Davis said yesterday.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday announced a two-week lockdown for the island after noting that more than 50 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed there since the country’s borders were reopened on July 1.
“They reopened the borders but they did not do it wisely,” Davis said. “The protocols put in place by the government had loopholes that facilitated the importation of the virus. No doubt about that.”
On Monday, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said in hindsight maybe the government was not strict enough on Bahamians going in and out of the country and that the recent surge in cases is “homegrown”.
Davis called that an “admission of failure.”
“It is an admission of your failure,” Davis said.
“To permit travel to hotspots and to have Bahamians exposed for a maximum of 72 hours without testing on return was folly.
“That was the protocol that they put in place. So, his commentary was an admission of their failure to properly protect us as Bahamians.”
Davis noted that there was a lot of traffic from Grand Bahama and other islands, including Cat Island where two people tested positive.
“What can the government tell us about where the virus is spreading right now in our country?” he said.
“Why wasn’t the government ready to enforce their own policies at the border? They said a few people slipped in. Let’s say we believe them, it’s just a few. The problem is, it doesn’t take more than a few to cause big problems. How was this allowed to happen?”
After delivering his statement outside Cabinet yesterday, Minnis did not take questions, walking away as reporters shouted questions at him.
Davis said given the myriad of questions pertaining to Grand Bahama, the prime minister should have made time.
“We need to know what is the medical advice relating to what is happening now,” the PLP leader said.
“We need to understand what is our testing capacity in the country. I am worried about Grand Bahama because we know that the Rand Memorial Hospital there has been compromised. We understand that most medical services are being administered under tents. And what we’re hearing coming out of Grand Bahama, I’m deeply concerned. The people need to know. We, in the opposition, do not know the answers, but we would like to be able to offer whatever advice or recommendations that we can in this fight against this invisible enemy called COVID-19. But without this information we’re all flailing in the dark.”
The Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador member of Parliament also expressed concern over the virus reaching other islands and their capacity to carry out testing and handle any confirmed cases.
“I am terribly concerned,” Davis said.
“For example, I was in Rum Cay and San Salvador two weeks ago and I enquired about the testing capacity because we are seeing boats come in to those areas and my information is that Rum Cay has one test kit and San Salvador has none. And in the instance of Rum Cay, they cannot say whether that one test kit is good. So, I’m concerned about it.”
Cat Island Administrator Neil Campbell confirmed that two Cat Island residents were flown to Nassau on Monday and were confirmed to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.
According to Campbell, contact tracing is underway on the island, and areas frequented by the mother and daughter have been closed and ordered sanitized.