Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands offered his resignation from Cabinet on Monday evening after accepting responsibility for the decision to allow permanent residents to enter the country during a strict border closure that has left Bahamian citizens stranded abroad.
In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, Dr. Sands said the controversy has caused embarrassment and he acknowledged that he acted outside of the scope of his authority in this matter.
His resignation comes one day after Minnis said that protocol was “breached” when six Americans, who are Bahamas residents, were permitted to land on New Providence and quarantine at home last week.
The Americans brought with them 2,500 swabs for COVID-19 testing, which The Nassau Guardian confirmed were valued at $11,250.
In his letter, Dr. Sands said: “I refer to the unfortunate controversy surrounding the delivery of COVID-19 test swabs and the landing of permanent residents under what you have termed a breach of protocol regulating the entry to The Bahamas by Bahamian citizens and permanent residents under Emergency (COVID-19) Regulations.”
“I accept responsibility for this breach of protocol. I acknowledge that I acted outside of the scope of my authority in this matter.
“My actions were guided by my great desire to obtain the much-needed testing swabs which are in short supply both here and internationally and which are key to our efforts to trace the spread of the coronavirus so as to better focus our responses. I acted at all times in good faith.
He added: “We continue in the midst of a most serious pandemic when focused attention should be trained only on how best the spread of COVID-19 might be slowed and eventually stopped.
“I believe that my continued presence in the Cabinet may serve as a distraction from our effort and hence I offer my resignation from your Cabinet. I thank you for the opportunity to serve our great country.”
The Guardian understands that the permanent residents were given verbal approval to disembark on New Providence before leaving the United States on Wednesday.
The Guardian also understands that the flight was expected to arrive in The Bahamas two weeks prior, however, issues at the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) caused a delay.