The Nassau Guardian May 9, 2020
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen said today that half of the Bahamians who returned to New Providence on Friday, after being stuck in the United States, are quarantined at a government facility.
Two hundred Bahamians returned home yesterday.
While noting that the figures were “constantly changing,” Brennen said 135 of those individuals disembarked on New Providence.
Those individuals, who had been trapped abroad since the Bahamian border closed in March, were required to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding a Bahamasair flight back to The Bahamas.
Brennen said the negative results only “punched your ticket to get on the flight”.
“Once you get on the flight and arrive home, we have to consider your last exposure to coronavirus as long as from that point forward you’re in quarantine and we know for sure that you’re not being exposed to the virus,” he told The Nassau Guardian.
“Fourteen days later, you would, if you’re not experiencing any symptoms and/or if we test you, we’ll know that you’re not COVID-19 positive and then we can feel safe about you entering the normal Bahamian populace.”
The decision to force many of the returning citizens and residents, who would’ve recently tested negative for the virus, to quarantine at a government facility has been widely criticized on social media.
Some critics have pointed to the fact that some individuals, who would’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in The Bahamas, would’ve been allowed to isolate at home.
However, according to Brennen, both groups are being treated the same.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.
“They’re isolating at home so they have a situation where being at home would not present them an ability to expose anybody else.”
Asked how many people, who had contracted the virus locally, had been quarantined at defense force guarded non-hospital facilities, Brennen said, “Honestly, [I] don’t know because some people who were hospitalized were transitioned home [and] others went to [a] facility.
“Some cases were never hospitalized and they could’ve been placed in a facility once diagnosed; others were not.”
When asked why returning Bahamians are required to quarantine, Brennen told The Guardian, “What the COVID-19 test does is, even if it is the gold standard real-time PCR test, what it does is provide you a snapshot in time. So, it tells you, at that very moment, that the person is not necessarily shedding the virus. However, without having no further history on the person, and they may have been in contact with a case, we don’t know how long they may be into an incubation period.
“So, imagine if someone was early on into their incubation period. They got exposed the day before, two days before or the like. Then there’s no expectation that they would be shedding the virus at the time they tested negative. However, you could, because they’re still in the incubation period, which lasts for about 14 days, start shedding the virus the next day, two days later, three days later, or whatever.
“So, if you got them early in their incubation period when you actually tested them that gives you no idea about what could happen after that point, that’s if they got exposed before they got the test done. Secondly, having had the test done, that only tells you that before that time.
“That tells you absolutely nothing about after that time. So, if I had the test done today and I got exposed to a person who is actively shedding tomorrow, that means that starts my new incubation period from that point moving forward.
“So, that person, who would’ve tested positive today, has a new incubation period starting tomorrow. Yet, they travel home during that period. They would then possibly start shedding the virus and become ill after that period.”