The Bahamas Ministry of Health issued a release on Sunday, October 17th, 2021, saying, “Over the past three weeks, the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville and the members of his Covid-19 technical team have visited islands in the Southern and Central Bahamas to conduct an urgent assessment of the situation there. In addition, the Ministry has dispatched COVID-19 surveillance and enforcement units to Inagua, North Eleuthera, and the Berry Islands with the intention to review COVID-19 cases, tighten surveillance protocols, and better support those who need to isolate and quarantine.” (Editor’s note: As of Monday, October 18th, 2021, local Public Health personnel in North Eleuthera had no information as yet on anticipated arrival dates of a COVID-19 surveillance and enforcement unit on the island)
The release continued, “It has been clear for more than a year that widespread testing is an important tool that has been under-utilized in our country’s fight against the spread of the virus. The government is in the process of building a nationwide free testing programme; free testing will begin as a pilot programme in those Family Islands currently most at risk for community spread of the COVID virus.
“The goal of testing as many residents of these islands as possible is to let individuals know their status, so they can act accordingly, and to give health authorities the information they need to create targeted and effective policies.
“The Ministry will also begin distribution of medical-grade masks on those islands currently experiencing COVID-19 clusters.
“Additionally, the Ministry is in the process of identifying resources to assist with the surveillance and enforcement of COVID-19 protocols and will expand both public education and vaccinations on these islands. These steps will be taken immediately while the Ministry also works to expand the national health care capacity more generally.
“The steps outlined by the Ministry are in accordance with the Davis government’s determination to rely on a cooperative approach rather than a punitive one. We will work in partnership with health care professionals, the public, and the private sector to reform and improve the country’s response to COVID.”
The release informed that in the next few days, Minister Darville and his medical team will continue visits to the Family Islands with identified clusters to further assess conditions and meet with local professionals and residents about the way forward.
Health officials reminded residents of the affected Family Islands that the Delta variant is highly transmissible and that they should limit interactions with those outside of their households at this time. The COVID virus, they added, is largely airborne, which means outside is safer than inside, and masks – when worn properly – remain a crucial barrier to inhalation of virus particles.
The statement concluded, “We urge everyone to follow the health protocols for the protection of themselves, their families, and their communities.”