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More than 50 Bahamians in UK and Europe want to come home

The Nassau Guardian May 15, 2020

High Commissioner of The Bahamas to the United Kingdom (UK) and Northern Ireland Ellison Greenslade said yesterday more than 50 Bahamians and residents in the UK and Europe have expressed interest in returning home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press statement a few days ago advising Bahamians in the diaspora and certainly students who are in the UK and parts of Europe to get in touch with the high commission here in London,” Greenslade told The Nassau Guardian.

“I’m very pleased to tell you that the response has been very good. We’ve heard from predominantly students and a few permanent residents of The Bahamas who have indicated an interest in returning back to The Bahamas. We have prepared, as we have been asked, a repatriation spreadsheet and that has been sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I take a personal interest in that and so it’s updated on a daily basis and as often as is necessary. And so, as of today’s date, we’ve got in excess of 50 persons on that list.”

He said the list continues to grow daily.

Greenslade said he remains in constant contact with citizens and residents in Europe, noting that he is “fielding inquiries from people who call in”.

“The issue here in the UK is as follows: the airports are closed [and] London is still in a general state of lockdown,” he said.

“People can go outside for exercise but they’re being asked to exercise tremendous caution. And so, no one is really working, certainly not on The Bahamas’ side and most of the universities, I think, have come to the end of their programs and are now, I imagine, going to take a summer break.

“We’re starting to get a bit more interest from students now.”

He said some citizens and residents are getting “really anxious”.

Greenslade said he has received no reports of suspected COVID-19 cases among Bahamians in the UK.

“I don’t have any cases of any students or members of the diaspora being in any jeopardy here in the United Kingdom,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Sunday he was advised by health officials to temporarily suspend return flights pending the investigation into a matter involving a Grand Bahama man who tested positive for COVID-19, but flew home on Friday.

Health officials reported on Tuesday that the man has since tested negative for COVID-19. The Guardian understands that the man tested positive in Florida on April 29.

The prime minister has said the flights will resume “as soon as health officials advise”.

The country’s borders were closed on March 27, as the government sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 in The Bahamas.

There are more than 500 people in two U.S. states who are seeking to get back to The Bahamas.

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