PM: Travelers from NP took COVID-19 to Acklins, Crooked Is.

Cases of COVID-19 on Acklins and Crooked Island are the result of the “irresponsible” decision of 157 people who traveled from New Providence to Acklins only hours before stringent inter-island travel restrictions came into place, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said yesterday.

Cases were confirmed on the two islands in recent days, after they spent months avoiding the pandemic.

Minnis said a large group of people traveled to attend a homecoming event at the end of July.

“Acklins and Crooked Island have still been infected, but let’s look at the history,” he said.

“A lockdown, or inter-island transportation was being stopped on the 28th of July. 

“Hours before that order came in…157 people left New Providence on a charter fight, subsequently traveled to Acklins and spread the virus. That is how Acklins and Crooked Island became infected – 157 people. And I call it totally irresponsible, knowing that your inter-island flights were being cancelled in a matter of hours.”

Minnis made the comments as he provided his rationale for deciding to lockdown New Providence last week with no notice, noting that if he had given notice, there would have been a mass migration of people from New Providence to Family Islands.

“Information would have come to us afterward that there were numerous boats already prepared with the relevant material, fuel, etc., ready to leave and head to the Family Islands,” he said, speaking to last week’s lockdown.

“They were on their way to Long Island and others. And that was why such a decision was made, to protect Long Island, Inagua, Mayaguana…”

The emergency order issued on July 28, provided that those seeking to travel between islands would have to test negative for COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at their destination.

Minnis said he told concerned Acklins and Crooked Island residents who called him that day to stay away from the visitors.

“[T]he residents of Acklins called me, very concerned and disturbed, informing me that…over 100 individuals entered their shores for a homecoming event,” he said.

“My exact words to them [when] they called me, was to stay away from them as much as possible, because I do not know if they are transporting the virus with them, but there is that possibility. And if you came in contact with them, your island will be infected.

“Residents of Crooked Island called me on the same day…and said they were concerned because so many people had entered their islands and those individuals may possibly come over to Crooked Island and subsequently infect their island.

“The rest is history.

“That is how Acklins became infected. That is how Crooked Island became infected. And I am advised that individuals from those islands are trying to run from those given islands to Mayaguana. If that happens, Mayaguana will subsequently become infected.”

It is unclear why the group of travelers were not forced to quarantine after arriving on Acklins.

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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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