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U.S. trips caused COVID-19 spike

The spike in COVID-19 cases on Grand Bahama appears to be the result of Bahamians traveling to the United States and bringing the virus back home with them, said Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis at a Ministry of Health press conference yesterday.

Ten new cases were confirmed on Grand Bahama between July 8 and July 14; one of whom is hospitalized.

Dahl-Regis, special medical consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister during the novel coronavirus pandemic, confirmed two of those cases.

The borders for international travel were fully opened July 1.

Grand Bahama had previously gone 63 days without a new case.

Dr. Frank Bartlett, who heads Grand Bahama’s COVID-19 task force, yesterday said more than 80 contacts have been identified from eight of the island’s latest COVID-19 cases, noting that over 200 people are currently quarantined on the island.

Prior to these cases, the island had not reported a new case since May 5.

During a Ministry of Health press conference, Bartlett provided a detailed breakdown for eight of the 10 cases on the island.

He noted that case number 105, which was reported on July 8, is a 33-year-old woman who presented to the emergency room with “a one-day history” of headache and diarrhea. She has no travel history.

Case number 106, which was also reported on July 8, is a 21-year-old undocumented migrant who was intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard. He was detained by the Coast Guard for two days before he was brought to Grand Bahama.

“During that period, some 22 illegal immigrants were housed in the detention center in Grand Bahama,” Bartlett said.

“Testing for all of the illegal immigrants that were landed at the detention center revealed that one of the cases — the same 21-year-old, case number 106 — was positive.”

He noted that the 21-year-old was transferred to a quarantine site.

“The other detainees, who were at the facility along with him, they would have been repatriated as of this past Monday,” Bartlett said.

“All of the agencies — within the detention center — are advised that all of those officers that were in that building are to stay home.”

He said the cleaning of the facility was expected to be completed by yesterday afternoon.

He did not mention the man’s nationality.

Case number 107 is a 27-year-old man who presented with a history of respiratory symptoms and fever.

Bartlett said he is a contact of case number 109, who returned to The Bahamas on a repatriation flight on June 30. She returned with her daughter, 16, who also contracted the virus.

The 16-year-old is case number 111.

Speaking of the mother and daughter, Bartlett said, “I’m of note that their COVID-19 tests were negative but theirs was 12 days expired.”

He said they are both asymptomatic, noting that they are quarantined at home.

Case number 110 is a 46-year-old asymptomatic woman who works as a manager at an establishment on Grand Bahama. She presented with a history of fatigue and fever.

She reportedly had shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea.

He said this case has no travel history. She is quarantined at home.

“The evaluations on some of 26 employees, who may have had some interaction with her, has been completed at this establishment,” Bartlett said.

“Of the 26 persons who have been evaluated, some five were identified as having the need to be quarantined.”

Case number 112 is a 32-year-old woman who became symptomatic on July 7. Bartlett said she presented at the hospital and has a history of fever, cough, cold and headache.

She works at a “local office” on Grand Bahama.

Bartlett said all of her coworkers have been evaluated.

“The assessment has been done,” he said.

“At this point in time, all of them have been quarantined and placed into quarantine.”

Case number 113 is a 51-year-old self-employed man who is a known contact of case number 105.

He is asymptomatic and is being quarantined at a government facility.

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Health last night, case number 115 is a 52-year-old man with no history of travel. He is currently hospitalized.

Case number 116 is a 39-year-old man with no history of travel. He is isolated at home.

Bartlett said 122 people are quarantined in relation to a recent repatriation to the island.

He said three healthcare workers are also in quarantine.

There are six people in isolation, according to Bartlett.

“To date, Grand Bahama has done some 272 tests,” he said.

“With this exercise of positive cases, we have identified, to date, some 82 contacts and contact tracing is ongoing. As it relates to supplies, we have adequate supplies of PPEs (personal protective equipment) and this point in time, we have some 180 swabs on hand on Grand Bahama.”

There have been 18 cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Grand Bahama since March.

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