The U.S. Embassy on New Providence has canceled all non-emergency visa appointments until further notice, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The release said the cancellations are a preventative measure, following The Bahamas confirming its first case of COVID-19 yesterday.
“The ministry wishes to bring to the attention of members of the public that the U.S. Embassy in Nassau has implemented measures to help control the spread of COVID-19,” the release stated.
“These measures include social distancing. The U.S. Embassy has indicated that it is canceling routine immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments.
“The embassy will resume routine visa services as soon as possible, but is unable to provide a specific date at this time.
“If members of the traveling public have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, they should follow the guidance provided at Ais.usvisa-info.com, by phone at +1-242-603-1290 or +1-703-831-3448, or via email to VisaNassau@state.gov to request an emergency appointment.
“Members of the public are further advised to visit the embassy’s website https://bs.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/ for additional detail and updates.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus, recently named COVID-19, a pandemic last week.
It originated in Wuhan, China, in December, and has since spread to all continents except Antarctica, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.
Up to press time, there were over 153,000 cases in 110 countries, according to WHO.
More than 5,700 deaths have been recorded around the globe.
Although the majority of deaths were in mainland China, WHO reported that the epicenter of the disease has moved from China to Europe as “more cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic”.
The United States has been one of the countries to implement a travel ban, recently banning travel from Europe.
U.S. President Donald Trump also said cruise ship activity from the United States is suspended for 30 days.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, has “strongly discouraged” any “non-essential travel” to “countries and jurisdictions experiencing high risk for exposure” to the disease.