Some critical medical supplies, including ventilators, are being blocked by U.S. officials from coming to The Bahamas, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands confirmed this morning.
Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation directing federal authorities to allocate “scarce or threatened” medical supplies for domestic use amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those supplies include N95 masks and other personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gloves.
Sands said the proclamation “has serious implications for The Bahamas and other countries”.
“This is a significant logistics challenge right now,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“We have been appraised that a number of our shipments could not be cleared through U.S. Customs.”
He said the items include 15 ventilators, masks, and personal protective equipment.
Asked when the items were expected to arrive in The Bahamas, Sands said, “Anytime…With shipping these days, in the COVID era, you’ve got to be very flexible because what you thought was going to happen doesn’t necessarily happen.”
He added, “We have flown in a huge quantity of personal protective equipment by air cargo from South America just to make sure that we have it on hand and that shipment would’ve arrived last week.”
Sands said the U.S. Embassy in Nassau has offered “a tremendous amount of support”.
He said it has assisted with providing “clarification” and assisted with getting items that are “very much needed”.
“We hope that those interventions will bear fruit,” the minister said.
“Certainly we have had a number of goods make it through the United States over the last week so how this is going to play out at this point is not clear.