PLP: Bimini lockdown a panicked response

The government did not give Bimini residents sufficient notice ahead of an upcoming two-week lockdown, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) COVID-19 Task Force Co-Chairs Dr. Michael Darville and Dr. Melissa Evans said in a statement yesterday.

Darville and Evans warned that the “panicked response” could make the situation on Bimini worse.

“The people of Bimini are now scrambling because the prime minister has imposed a 14-day total lockdown on Bahamians, with scant notice,” the statement said.

“The PLP has long been concerned about the COVID-19 status in Bimini and have raised the issue again and again with the government. We believe that what has now been announced is the result of the continuing incompetence of this administration and their ongoing lack of care and concern for family islanders.”

The lockdown takes effect on May 18.

The statement added, “What was a health emergency seven weeks ago, has now been allowed to develop into a crisis. Are there sufficient RBDF or police personnel on the island to enforce the lockdown?

“This panicked response, without proper planning and notice, is likely to make a bad situation much worse.”

Bimini, which has a population of about 2,000, has been identified as a COVID-19 hotspot, with 13 confirmed cases on the small island.

The co-chairs said the lockdown is the result of the Minnis administration’s failure to act earlier on Bimini. They said more action should have been taken when the first COVID-19 case on the island was confirmed in Kim Johnson- Rolle, who was also the first person to die of the illness in the country.

“The PLP raised the alarm seven weeks ago when the first death from COVID-19 occurred in Bimini,” they said.

“We have said repeatedly that there was a need to test intensively, and to have extensive contact tracing. We were especially concerned because the tragedy of that first death appears to have been because of negligence and unacceptable delay.

“In spite of all the warnings, the government failed to act, with the consequences we now see unfolding. And so the people of Bimini are now being rushed into a lockdown.”

The co-chairs questioned whether there is sufficient space in the quarantine facility on Bimini and whether there is enough medical personnel on the island. They also questioned whether Bimini can handle such a long lockdown.

“What preparations have been made to ensure that adequate food and medical supplies are sent to the island?” the pair asked.

“And once landed, are the logistics in place to ensure that everyone has what they need to survive these two weeks?”

They also questioned whether there are enough police on the island to enforce the lockdown.

Bimini recorded its first case of the virus on April 1 when Johnson-Rolle, a resident, died as a result of COVID-19.

On April 12, officials said a woman on Cat Cay, a small island near Bimini, had the virus. Ten days later, officials said a man and woman on Bimini contracted the virus. Three days later, five people tested positive for COVID-19 on Bimini.

On May 5, officials said three more people on Bimini contracted the virus. Finally, the two latest cases were confirmed on Bimini yesterday.

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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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