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RBDF adjusting protocols for coronavirus

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has “adjusted” its protocols in an attempt to combat the new coronavirus, RBDF officials said yesterday, noting that the defense force has been involved in governmental meetings regarding the deadly virus.

“We are imploring in terms of… actually physically attacking or addressing the coronavirus situation,” Dr. Derwin Johnson, the head of the RBDF’s medical unit, told reporters during a press conference at the Coral Harbour Base.

“There are protocols that are being adjusted that will not really change the way that we do things because we have already been doing things in that regard at a certain standard.”

He said RBDF ensures that commanding officers at sea are always “in the know so to speak [and] up to date with all that is going on” as it relates to outbreaks like the coronavirus.

Up to press time, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 20,630 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 490 deaths globally.

Scientists believe the virus has the potential to become a pandemic, with more than 150 cases in over 20 countries.

The government has held a series of meetings aimed at addressing the threat of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, in late December.

Yesterday, RBDF Acting Commodore Dr. Raymond King said, “We’ve been a part of the briefings that were held recently and we have been a part of that dialogue. We have asked some critical questions. We have gotten some good responses. We have the latest iteration of their plan…”

He said Chapell Whyms, head of RBDF’s operations, is in the process of formatting “all of that technical jargon and incorporating it into our patrol or an operational plan for effectively dealing with any potential incidents”.

“…One or two circumstances that we would look at is what if we encounter vessels at sea with persons who are migrant status and we would have to screen those persons,” King said.

“How would we treat those persons? Whether it’s a matter of just shadowing the vessels and guiding them into port and notifying the health officials ahead of time so they can incorporate the necessary protocols…”

Whyms said that RBDF has sought to update its standard operating procedure to accommodate the coronavirus.

“We need to make sure that our vessels, particularly ports of entry, had the information they needed in order to address anything that they may come upon because it is nothing new that we’ve been dealing with,” he said.

Whyms said no concerns regarding the virus have been brought to the attention of the defense force.

There are no reported or suspected cases of the virus in The Bahamas, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.

As of Tuesday, 10 Bahamians, who recently traveled to China and returned home, were under quarantine.

Yesterday, Dr. Delon Brennen, deputy chief medical officer, said two more people were “actively” being evaluated to see whether they need to be quarantined.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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