Florida lab where man was tested ‘not the same level’ as Bahamian nat’l lab, health official says

A man who tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida, flew to The Bahamas and was later tested negative for the virus, may have had a false positive, Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis, advisor to the prime minister, said on Friday.

Dahl-Regis said the lab where the man was tested in Florida is “not the same level” as the CAP-accredited national reference lab in The Bahamas.

The man was among 51 people who returned to Grand Bahama on a government sponsored return exercise last Friday.

Bahamians and residents trapped aboard and wishing to return to The Bahamas must first test negative for COVID-19.

“We wrestled with that,” Dahl-Regis said when asked at a Ministry of Health press conference about the possibility of an inaccurate test result.

“Our lab asked the lab in Florida if they would share with us the swab and we are still hoping we will get that swabs and that will determine from our reference laboratory if it was a positive or not.

“Our reference laboratory is CAP-accredited. The lab in Florida is not the same level as our lab. We do hope to answer your question should we receive the swab from them.”

The revelation that there was a COVID-19 positive passenger on one of the Bahamasair flights that transported nearly 200 people from the U.S. last week was met with outrage.

Many have called for repercussions for the passenger and any others responsible for his being allowed on the flight.

However, Dahl-Regis said she could not say whether or not he will be prosecuted.

The country’s borders were closed on March 27, as the government sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

On May 8, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis issued the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No. 3) Order, 2020, which said Bahamian citizens and residents will be permitted entry into The Bahamas “by international air travel to New Providence or Grand Bahama”.

According to the order, those individuals would be required to undergo a COVID-19 test prior to returning home or upon arrival in The Bahamas.

The incident last week, however, resulted in the temporary suspension of return flights pending the investigation into the matter.

More than 500 people in two U.S. states are seeking to get back to The Bahamas. There are more than 50 in the U.K. and Europe seeking to do the same.


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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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