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Forbes: Reducing quarantine time might cause issues

While it is feasible to reduce The Bahamas’ required quarantine period, it may result in some positive COVID-19 cases slipping through the cracks, according to Dr. Nikkiah Forbes, director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme at the Bahamas Ministry of Health.

The 14-day quarantine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains in effect, but the CDC is now also recommending that, based on local availability of viral testing, quarantine for asymptomatic individuals end on day 10 without testing or day seven after receiving a negative test result.

When called for a comment about the CDC’s latest recommendation, Forbes told The Nassau Guardian, “At the end of the day, I think it could be feasible that we could look at it. We would have to plan and be able to accommodate those tests and be able to follow up with such persons.”

She said COVID-19 tests are “widely available” in The Bahamas.

Forbes said the testing capacity can possibly support such a change in quarantine requirements.

“What we would have to look at is a population of who would get this quarantine applying to,” she said.

A Washington Post article, which was published on Wednesday, notes that CDC officials have announced new guidance for testing before and after traveling. It said individuals planning a trip should get a test one to three days in advance and then be tested again three to five days after returning.

Referring to that article, Forbes said, “When you read the article, this quarantine is applying to persons who have traveled or they have been exposed to persons who may be at risk.

“So, if it is that there is a large number of persons in these groupings, that’s when you would have to look at what would be the burden of testing those persons. So, at this time, where the curve is flattening, we may be able to support such a thing if it is where we’re not in a situation where we’re having to prioritize tests for surging numbers of symptomatic cases and high-risk cases.”

Forbes said a reduction in The Bahamas’ quarantine requirement is “potentially feasible depending on the context”.

“Again, there is a risk that you know that you’re not going to catch all of the cases and that there are going to be people who convert later on and there can be a risk that they can transmit to other persons,” she said.

“So, again, your health system has to be equipped to be able to detect those cases early and to be able to do contact tracing and to prevent further spread. That’s very, very important.” 

The Ministry of Health requires that individuals quarantine for 14 days after being exposed to COVID-19.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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