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Bahamian Politics Last Updated: Jun 29, 2020 - 2:02:39 PM

DNA calls for one month delay in the reopening of international borders
By Buscheme Armbrister, Deputy Leader
Jun 28, 2020 - 7:25:40 PM

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  •     FNM Administration continues to operate haphazardly and in vacuum

  •     Government has failed to implement an aggressive testing regime

  •     +2300 tests not synonymous with +2300 persons tested

  •     Economic interests must be balanced against health of the nation

  •     A one month delay would provide sufficient time for protocol advertisement

With a July 1 deadline looming, The Bahamas stands on the brink of a decision that will undoubtedly alter the developmental course of the country. For months now, countries and jurisdictions around the world have continued to struggle with the far-reaching implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The deadly disease has claimed millions of lives, shut down once-vibrant economies, and sent millions of workers to the unemployment line. In the Bahamas alone, more than one hundred cases of the disease have been recorded, of that number, eleven cases ended fatally. At present, nine persons are still be monitored and treated for Covid-19 infection according to the Ministry of Health. Only now - some six months after the first case was detected in Wuhan China - are countries, worldwide attempting to lift quarantine orders and restore some form of normalcy within their respective jurisdictions.

The delicate nature of such an undertaking CANNOT and MUST NOT be underestimated. What is becoming painfully apparent, however, is that this Administration is continuing to operate haphazardly, threatening to make an already tenuous situation worse. While Bahamians everywhere had been expecting their government to unveil a well thought out plan for the strategic reopening of our borders - one which weighs the health and safety of the citizenry against the economic and financial implications, while also keeping a close watch on other jurisdictions - what they have instead gotten is a government that seems to operate in an information vacuum.

Seemingly lulled by the decreasing number of active cases in the country, the government has so far failed to implement an aggressive testing regime. While our regional counterparts like Antigua and Barbados have ramped up testing efforts to make the procedure widely available to its citizens, the ministry of health here at home has conducted just over twenty-three hundred tests. This number, however, is not an accurate representation of how many individuals have actually been tested, as many of those recorded tests had to be administered more than once.

It raises several very important questions. Firstly, what data is the government using to inform its Covid-19 policies and how can Bahamians be confident that they are doing everything possible to plan for future potential cases?

The Democratic National Alliance is fully aware of the need for businesses, specifically those within the tourism sector to resume operations, however our small country cannot make rushed decisions in the name of political expediency.

Over the past several days, reports from the United States have called attention to a spike in Covid-19 cases, particularly in Florida.  As of June 27, Florida recorded as many as 9585 new cases prompting US officials to take additional precautions to limit the movement and travel of persons from such hotspot areas. Historically, The Bahamas, specifically islands like Bimini and New Providence - both of which experienced large numbers of Covid-19 cases - have been the vacation destination of choice for as many as two hundred thousand Floridians annually. With these statistics in mind, it should be painstakingly clear to the government and the citizenry that rushing this process could expose the country to a deadly second wave from which we may never fully recover.

Despite the overwhelming data, the government seems intent on moving with its previously announced plans. We, in the DNA have compiled a list of recommendations that we feel can help mitigate any potential fallout.

Chief among them: a temporary delay in the resumption of international travel by as a few as two weeks or as long as one month to ensure that the necessary protocols can be properly planned before visitors arrive. This will also allow for a review of infection rates post the upcoming July 4 holiday weekend in the US and our own Independence day celebrations. The delay would further give airlines and other tourism officials ample time to advertise ALL of the updated safety protocols, from testing requirements to the MANDATORY use of masks and adherence to national curfew hours.

The Bahamas simply cannot afford or survive a possible second wave by this deadly virus, brought on by the premature and rushed reopening of our international border. It is our hope that Prime Minister Hubert Minnis carefully and strategically weighs the facts as they are and act in the best interest of the country.

Buscheme “Busch” Armbrister

Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance


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