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Some Biminites call for “drastic measures”

EyeWitness News Coronavirus May 7, 2020 at 10:46 am Royston Jones Jr.

Eleven cases of COVID-19 on the island described as an “emerging hotspot”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to creep up in Bimini, a small western island with just over 2,000 residents, two local officials have called for the government to consider a prolonged lockdown and increased testing to curb new cases.

Glenderick Rolle, 45, member of Bimini’s Local Board, told Eyewitness News is a heightened sense of concern on the island among residents.

“Everyone is concerned,” he said. “Everyone just feels like there needs to be more tests.

“There are only 2,000 people here. Try to do as much as you could. I guess they are waiting for you to have symptoms, but it looks like most people appear to be asymptomatic, so you don’t know who is who.

As of yesterday, there were 92 confirmed cases of the virus in The Bahamas.

Eleven of those cases stem from Bimini.

A town meeting on Zoom this week saw more than 200 residents participate.

Many expressed concerns about the plight of the island.

At last report, nearly 400 people were tested for the virus in Bimini.

An eight-member team from the Surveillance Unit was on the island for several days last week.

Eyewitness News understands that team returned to New Providence on Saturday.

Rolle said he believes a two-week lockdown  would help to isolate cases and prevent further spread — a call made by West Grand Bahama and Bimini MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe amid health officials describing Bimini as an “emerging hotspot”.

“I feel we should lock it down for two weeks, but then we can’t lock people down and they don’t have any food in their house, but we should be able to take special care because it is a limited amount of people here,” he said.

Prior to the nationwide shutdown, Rolle ran a ferry business from south to north Bimini.

He has allowed his competitor to continue operations, opting to discontinue business to protect his health and that of his family.

He is a father of four.

“We have two services here and the other service has been working because it’s not much movement — just local, and not tourists — so it’s not feasible for both of us to be really moving like that,” Rolle said.

“Right now, my concern is my health.

“I am trying more or less to sit back. I have another guy. He is an older guy. He is almost 60, so I don’t want to put him at risk and I don’t want to put myself at risk right now.”

A member of the local government council, who did not wish to be named at this time, said drastic measures are required for the island, which she said is facing a “drastic situation”.

“I personally believe we should have a shutdown for at least 14 days and see where that takes us,” she said.

“Assuming Bimini is in a drastic state, I think we should do drastic measures.

“In fact, I thought we should have already done a prolonged shutdown.

“But with that being said, there will be a lot of persons and things involved if that ever happens.

“That has to come from the prime minister.”

The district council member also said “everyone has been up and about” since the partial reopening on Monday, increasing concerns about the potential spread of the virus.

According to both officials, the vast majority of residents have adhered to social distancing protocols, but there remain those who ignore the requirements.

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