Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis last night told Bahamians not to panic despite a worsening coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, suggesting that the government is considering concessions for marginalized Bahamians impacted by the inevitable economic fallout of the outbreak.
“I want to ask you to take all the necessary hygienic precautions, washing your hands, etc…Most of all, I don’t want you to panic,” Minnis said during a town hall meeting in Black Point, Exuma.
“I don’t want you to panic. We are not affected and therefore you go about your normal lives in the most hygienic manner so as to minimize or try to keep this off our shores as much as well possibly can.
“So, once we do that and in addition to increasing our domestic tourist product, I think we will do very well.”
The prime minister stressed that there are no cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, noting that the country is “free” and “clear at this particular time”.
“Now, our tourism is still doing well at this time but we anticipate that there will be fallout,” he said.
“We anticipate that there will be fallout. You will hear of some countries that are just shutting down, which means their revenue streams are shut or not coming. We’re still afloat and many individuals will come to us. So, what I’m encouraging you to do…I’m encouraging you to let’s just help each other and increase our domestic tourism.”
Minnis said The Bahamas “can expect some decrease in revenue stream” as a result of the pandemic.
“What I have asked the minister of finance today to do I’ve asked the minister to design a model for me,” he said.
“He must design a model. If our revenue stream decrease by 10 percent, what will that represent? If our revenue stream decrease by 20 percent, what will that represent? Thirty percent, what will that represent? And then, what do we do? With a 10 percent decrease, what do we do? A 20 percent decrease, what do we do? So, we’re putting that together so that we are very proactive so as not to be caught off guard.”
He added, “…We must design programs and some form of concessions, those are being designed, to ensure that the poor are always protected as much as possible and the marginalized are protected as much as possible. So, I’m putting those together. We will have those completed very soon.”
As of yesterday, there have been more than 113,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 110 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
At least 4,000 people have died from the virus globally.
It was revealed yesterday that Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19.
Not long after the revelation, the Jamaica Gleaner shared a video on its social media of people storming a grocery store on the island to purchase non-perishable food, water and sanitary products.
In recent weeks, the government has announced that China, Italy, Iran and South Korea have been added to the government’s travel ban amid the global spread of COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, in late December.
Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands yesterday told The Nassau Guardian that the government does not plan to add Jamaica to that list.