The Bahamian House of Assembly voted on Monday, March 30, to extend the current state of emergency until at least Wednesday, April 8, to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. A 24-hour nationwide curfew is in effect and the borders remains shut. All incoming flights and vessels are temporarily suspended and there are limited flights out of the country. Roads and businesses are closed, and a further extension of the emergency orders is possible.
Under the state of emergency, all non-essential businesses are temporarily closed, while markets, banks, pharmacies, gas stations, and other businesses will operate on reduced hours. Some major hotels and other tourist facilities have suspended operations through April. Additional police officers are being deployed to enforce the curfew and a food shopping schedule will be released by the government to limit the number of people in grocery stores each day. All sporting events, large gatherings, banquets, and receptions are prohibited. Public bus transportation and non-essential boat travel is also suspended.
As of March 30, 14 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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