High Commissioner of The Bahamas to the United Kingdom (UK) and Northern Ireland Ellison Greenslade said yesterday his office has been unsuccessful in locating COVID-19 testing facilities for Bahamian citizens and residents stuck in the U.K.
“The eligibility requirements by the U.K. government does not include the general public at this time,” Greenslade told The Nassau Guardian.
“Persons not presenting with COVID-19 symptoms do not qualify. For clarity, please see the NHS (National Health Service) website. The high commission has not identified any testing facility in the U.K. other than certified NHS hospitals and surgeries. Our efforts to identify facilities other than NHS facilities have proven fruitless to date.”
Greenslade said 65 individuals have registered for repatriation.
“We continue to receive information from Bahamians here in the U.K. wishing to be registered for possible repatriation, hence, we update our list daily,” he said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a task force dealing with the details at a higher level.”
A group of Bahamian parents whose children are trapped in the U.K. wrote to the prime minister asking him to waive the requirement for returning Bahamians and residents to take a COVID-19 test.
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, the prime minister issued the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No. 3) Order, 2020.
Bahamian citizens and residents will be permitted entry into The Bahamas “by international air travel to New Providence or Grand Bahama”.
Those individuals will have to undergo a COVID-19 test prior to returning home or upon arrival in The Bahamas, according to the order.
They will also be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
On May 13, Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) Director General Captain Charles Beneby told The Guardian that the government is having “ongoing” discussions about using major international airlines to bring Bahamians and residents home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are still discussing it with the airlines but we certainly want to make it possible for as many Bahamians and lawful residents — that are desiring to return to the country — to return,” he said.