Despite restricting international visitors, COVID-19 cases in the Bahamas continue to surge.
The Bahamas continues to struggle with rising COVID-19 case numbers. There are now 751 positive reported cases of the coronavirus in the Bahamas. As the case numbers soar, health officials are looking to ramp up contract tracing efforts amid testing delays and low bed capacity.
New Providence and Grand Bahamas have the highest number of cases, with 342 and 336 respectively. There are 32 cases in Bimini, 10 in Moore’s Island, 9 in Great Guana Cay, 9 in the Berry Islands, 6 in Cat Cay, 3 in Cat Island, 3 in Exuma, and 1 in Abaco. In total there are now 644 active cases in the country.
The Bahamas did well during the first wave of the pandemic, recording only 104 cases. However, ever since reopening its borders on July 1st case numbers started to rise. In an attempt to slow down the surging numbers the country made the move to only allow visitors from Canada, the EU, and the UK, banning U.S. tourists given the high amount of cases in the country.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 numbers continue to increase. As a result, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced a national two-week lockdown. Most businesses have been forced to close, and those that are allowed to open can only do so on certain days and with restricted hours.
“Our ICU beds are at capacity and non-critical care beds are approaching capacity,” Minnis said during a national address about the economic shutdown of the country. “I know that a lockdown like this is the last thing we wanted as a country. I know the nation is hurting; that our economy is in a terrible state; that many business people are struggling; that many workers are now unemployed; that families are scared; that many of us are afraid of catching the virus,” he added.
In addition to strained bed capacity, health workers are also feeling the pressure. It’s unclear how many healthcare workers have been exposed to date, but there have been a number of staff members including nurses that have tested positive.
Healthcare workers aren’t the only ones on the front lines. Nearly 30 immigration officers have tested positive for COVID-19 despite new policies and wearing PPE.
The Bahamas is still open to international travel despite the lockdown. However, all visitors and returning residents are now required to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. Visitors and residents must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than10 days prior to the date of arrival. Visitors can find entry protocols here.
“We can and we will rebuild our economy and our society. But what we cannot do is bring people’s life back. We can rebuild, but we cannot recreate new life,” said Minnis.