With the first novel coronavirus case confirmed in Grand Bahama, Minister of State for Grand Bahama Senator Kwasi Thompson is urging residents to take the 24-hour curfew seriously and stay home.
“What makes this especially challenging is that we are still recovering from Hurricane Dorian, however, we could not expect to be immune from this global crisis. Now is not the time to panic,” he said Tuesday at a press conference in the capital to update the nation on the latest news of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thompson revealed that the Grand Bahama Health Services Coronavirus Task Force has been working along with the national task to prepare for this eventuality.
“If anyone in Grand Bahama or any other island didn’t take the warnings and the emergency orders seriously, please know that this virus can affect any of us anywhere in The Bahamas. Stay home. Practice social distancing,” he warned.
Already, The Bahamas has confirmed five COVID-19 cases and with the latest being the first for Grand Bahama, health officials say they had only confirmed the case hours before the press conference and teams had been mobilized to carry out contact tracing.
The woman, who at last report, was not hospitalized but quarantined, initially presented with mild respiratory illness and health officials said yesterday they were in the midst of gathering additional information to investigate possible contact.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merceline Dahl-Regis commended Grand Bahama Health officials on their clinical acumen, in light of the latest case.
There are currently over 400,000 cases and more than 18,000 deaths worldwide and government is pulling out all of the stops to fight this deadly virus and stop it from spreading.
Health officials are also working along with the Grand Bahama Port Authority to provide additional facilities should they be required.
In the meantime, residents who suspect they have COVID-19 symptoms are asked to contact their healthcare provider prior to reporting to a healthcare facility or call the 24-hour hotline.
In Grand Bahama, the numbers are 815-1667; 727-0140; 806-3550; or 727-0401.
Elsewhere, the numbers to call are 502-7382; 376-9350 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; 376-9387 from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., and toll-free (242) 300-2619.
Senator Thompson also took the opportunity to thank the team working with the Grand Bahama task force and all healthcare workers for their tireless work.
“We remain hopeful and prayerful. Just as we trusted God in the hurricane we must trust God to protect us through this crisis.” He said. “Be assured that our health professionals are prepared to address this situation in Grand Bahama.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis ordered a 24-hour curfew and the closure of all airports, seaports and beaches, which began 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. The extended orders implemented were in addition to the existing orders put in place on Thursday.
“Let us save ourselves, let us save our country,” he said in his address to the nation on Monday and pleaded with Bahamians and residents to comply with both Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, stay at home and practice discipline.
According to the emergency orders, not more than 10 people are allowed to congregate at one time and residents were strongly advised to practice social distancing, keeping at least three to six feet away from one another in a public setting.
All businesses and non-essential services are to remain closed and residents are prohibited from socializing, hanging out with friends or hosting house parties.
Additionally, residents are allowed to be out of the home for no more than an hour and a half each day between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. only for essential travel to a doctor, the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, to refuel or for outdoor exercise.
For the most part, residents in Grand Bahama are adhering to the new orders, officials say, however, seven males were arrested in the last two days and taken before the courts for violation of the curfew.
Five others have also been taken before the court in Abaco on similar charges.