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Passenger tests negative for COVID-19

A man who recently returned to The Bahamas from Florida and was said to have tested positive for COVID-19 does not have the virus, the Ministry of Health said last night.

In a statement, the ministry said the man tested negative for COVID-19.

The man was among 51 people who returned to Grand Bahama on Friday.

He was traveling with three others, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Minnis said all four individuals were retested.

Bahamasair conducted two flights on Friday — a morning flight, which came from Fort Lauderdale to New Providence, and an afternoon flight, which came from Fort Lauderdale, stopped on Grand Bahama to let passengers off, then traveled to New Providence.

In its statement yesterday, the Ministry of Health said, “The passenger was tested twice upon arrival in Grand Bahama by the Ministry of Health’s surveillance team.

“Both test samples returned a negative result, as confirmed by the fully accredited National Reference Lab in New Providence.

“Health officials are satisfied that the passenger did not pose a risk to the other passengers traveling on the same aircraft.”

The Bahamas allowed Bahamians who were trapped in the United States to return home after the country closed its borders in mid-March.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was directed by the prime minister to investigate the matter.

“The prime minister has asked that this matter be treated with priority,” the ministry said.

“Accordingly, the ministry is presently conducting inquires into all matter surrounding the incident and will report its findings to the prime minister on completion.”

Bahamas Consul General in Miami Linda Treco-Mackey said that the passenger was “irresponsible” and “not considerate of his own fellow Bahamians” when he decided to travel.

She said the man was not on the list to travel as he had tested positive for COVID-19 over a week ago.

“I have to take responsibility for the consulate because they (Bahamasair) [sought] approval from someone at the consulate and the person at the consulate was not at the level to give that approval, but they did,” said Treco-Mackey, whose office organized the return of 183 Bahamians after the prime minister agreed to reopen the border to them.

“So, I guess Bahamasair assumed it was okay because the persons said it was okay.”

She said it was a “bad judgment call”.

Officials flagged the man when they realized that more people had landed on Grand Bahama than were supposed to.

“Then, the Ministry of Health got involved and they already had the list of persons who were tested and the results were sent to them,” she said.

As a result of the incident, return flights of Bahamians trapped abroad were suspended.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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