Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will assume responsibility as the new Minister of Health, effective immediately.
The Cabinet Office announced the move, which is said temporary, late Tuesday night, as it comes on the heels of Dr. Duane Sands’ abrupt resignation, which took effect on Tuesday.
The now former minister offered his resignation Monday amid controversy over a protocol breach surrounding the decision to allow a private aircraft with permanent residents onboard transporting donated COVID-19 test kits to land in New Providence last week.
Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands took responsibility for the authorization on Thursday and told the media that the two Americans had been administered COVID-19 tests and were allowed self-quarantine at their residence.
However, during his national address on the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, Prime Minister Minnis revealed that it was a breach of the emergency order and that he had later learned there were actually six people onboard that private aircraft and not two as Dr. Sands originally stated.
Sands, who played an intricate role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, on Monday in a letter to the prime minister accepted responsibility for the breach of protocol and acknowledged that he acted outside of the scope of his authority in this matter.
Prime Minister Minnis thanked Dr. Sands for his services to country, and as promised, revealed Tuesday night that he would be taking on the new portfolio as Health Minister.
In the meantime, The Bahamas has confirmed five new COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, including one in New Providence, three in Bimini and another in Grand Bahama – the first in 21 days.
Health officials say neither of these cases have had any recent history of travel and all of them are self-isolating at home.
The five new cases take the COVID-19 count in The Bahamas to 89 with 69 in New Providence, 11 in Bimini, eight in Grand Bahama and one in Cat Cay.