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PM urges Family Islanders to take COVID-19 seriously

The Nassau Guardian April 2, 2020

Rachel Knowles

As he confirmed that a Bimini resident who tested positive for COVID-19 died after she was airlifted to New Providence, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged Family Islanders yesterday to take every precaution to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

Minnis announced that there are now 21 confirmed cases of the virus in The Bahamas. These cases include 16 on New Providence, four on Grand Bahama and one on Bimini.

“Life in our Family Islands is very communal,” he said.

“We live close together. We visit each other. We share common struggles and take care of each other.

“But, during this crisis, Family Islanders must make changes. Only go out to purchase necessities. Only go out if you are an essential services worker.

“Do not assume that it is not in your community because no one has tested positive yet.

“Every Bahamian and resident in every Family Island must take the same aggressive distancing measures being taken in the more populated islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama. Our advice and the emergency order are for the whole Bahamas.

“Family Islanders, as your prime minister, I need you to comply with these orders. I do not want outbreaks in our beautiful island communities.

“It is largely up to you to determine what happens in your communities.”

He added, “Except for emergency personnel, there is to be no domestic travel within the country by plane or boat. Those who do not abide by this may place other islands and cays and Bahamians in danger. They also risk prosecution.

“No resident of New Providence or Grand Bahama should travel to any Family Island or cay. Likewise, no one from the Family Islands or cays should travel to another island or cay, including New Providence and Grand Bahama.”

Minnis was asked at a press conference whether the government has a contractual arrangement with medical evacuation providers or private pilots that obliges them to collect COVID-19 patients from Family Islands. He assured that such an arrangement exists.

However, when asked what went wrong in the instance of the Bimini victim who waited 24 hours to be airlifted, the prime minister said the matter was still under investigation.

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