STATEMMENT| The Bahamas is set to open to visitors in just three days, on July 1st. About ten days ago, the government announced that visitors, like returning residents, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country.
Because of the lag time between taking the test, receiving the results, and the day of travel, a negative result is not a guarantee that a visitor is not carrying the virus. The requirement for a negative test result reduces but does not eliminate the risk that a visitor is infected.
As the case numbers in the United States continue to rise at an alarming rate, I urge the government to announce a serious and comprehensive testing strategy in The Bahamas that begins as tourists return.
We need to conduct regular and extensive testing for Bahamians who work with or near visitors. We know that the virus can be spread by people before they feel sick or develop symptoms. We know the virus can be spread by infected individuals who never experience symptoms. Because the virus can spread silently and quickly throughout our communities, we cannot wait until Bahamians develop symptoms to implement testing. We need new testing protocols and in addition, every Bahamian who wants a test should be able to receive one. Testing will allow us to make visible a virus that spreads invisibly.
Along with a serious plan for testing, the government must provide transparency about our capacity to conduct contact tracing and isolation of any positive cases, including plans for each of our Family Islands.
This is an extraordinarily challenging time for our country. In addition to implementing all measures possible to protect Bahamians from the virus, the government needs to take steps beyond those announced to support Bahamians during this economic crisis.
Leader of The Opposition
Hon. Philip Brave Davis QC MP