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Failed antigen test policy putting Bahamians at risk

The Minnis administration is attempting to do some damage control after it was revealed that some 21,000 travelers chose not to fully comply with the government’s travel protocols.

Health officials stated recently that they were concerned that an estimated 41% of travellers who were supposed to take the follow-up rapid antigen test on the fifth day of their stay didn’t do it.

The revelation has brought to the fore the administration’s failure to ensure that the policies and procedures set in place to keep Bahamians safe from a raging virus that has so far claimed the lives of 175 Bahamians and millions more around the globe is airtight.

In an effort to get some positive traction on a failing economy, the Minnis administration put in place a testing regime for travellers and reopened the country in November of last year. The requirements for travellers included a negative PCR-test taken within 5 days of travel, a follow up rapid antigen test on the fifth day if the stay was longer than 4 days and daily check-ins with ambassadors. The fact that 21,000 people did not comply with the fifth day follow up test also brings to light that the daily check-ins must not be working effectively – or that they may not be happening at all.

Health officials have also advised that some 113 people who did take the follow up test on day five, tested positive for COVID-19. That revelation has led some to question the effectiveness of the administration’s policing of the initial entry requirements as well.

Still, Health Minister Renward Wells, insisted that the health protocols in place are working to the extent that the government would like to see them work. Speaking to reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday, he downplayed the matter saying that given the low number of cases in recent weeks, the Minnis administration did not drop the ball and "the proof of the pudding is in the eat.” He added that health officials will be watching the numbers going forward.

Following November’s tourism reopening, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said those who failed to comply with the measures put in place would face a $1,000 fine or one month in jail.

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