While Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday said the party believes government is “responding adequately” to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, an infectious disease which originated in China in December, he said the party still has concerns regarding its quarantine policy.
On January 30, the government implemented a 14-day quarantine for all Bahamians who were recently in China within the last 20 days upon their return to the country and regardless of the form of travel.
Davis raised the question of whether the quarantine might “infringe on civil liberties”, but also on the other hand he suggested that rather than just quarantining one individual traveling by airplane as a precaution, all passengers on that plane should be quarantined as well.
“We have been monitoring this crisis, and our spokesperson on health did issue a statement calling the government to action, and our advice is that they have been responding adequately,” Davis said during the party’s monthly press conference at its headquarters.
“We still have some concerns on the issue of the quarantine, as a result of what we call – you know, because it may infringe on civil liberties.
“But we want to understand the protocols of the quarantine, and our understanding of what happens is that if one person comes on the plane, that it’s required to be quarantined. You don’t just quarantine the one person; the whole plane and those on it ought to likewise be quarantined, and we don’t know whether that is the protocol that the government has in place.
“But we are following the events closely, related to the coronavirus, and wherever we find that there are any missteps or anything that we could do to help alleviate the concerns and fears and try to bring normalcy back to the traveling public from that region, we will lend our support.”
In a January 29 release, shortly before government’s new quarantine policy was implemented, PLP Senator Michael Darville called for government to “bring our remaining students and diplomats home”, as many other countries were in the process of evacuating their citizens from China.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest as well as other health officials have said that the country does not have the capacity to do that.
As of yesterday, health officials confirmed that at least 10 Bahamians are in quarantine in the country – including on Grand Bahama – in undisclosed locations.
Those in quarantine are in good health and there are still no known or suspected cases of the virus in The Bahamas, according to health officials.
So far, there are 27 countries with confirmed cases of the virus including Canada, the U.S., Spain, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Finland, to name a few.
As of yesterday, there were 20,630 cases of the virus and more than 490 deaths. The New York Times also reported a 39-year-old man died from coronavirus yesterday, making him the second death outside of China after a 44-year-old man in the Philippines died on Sunday.
Last week the World Health Organization declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency, and experts in the U.S. say it will likely become a pandemic.