Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced on Sunday, July 19, that additional restrictions will be introduced for the country in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of Monday, July 20, a daily 19:00-05:00 (local time) curfew will be introduced on Grand Bahama as part of the restrictions. Reportedly, 31 of the 49 new cases recorded in the country since it reopened to international travelers on July 1 were recorded on Grand Bahama. Grand Bahama's international and domestic borders will be closed to all incoming and outgoing flights and sea vessels.
Furthermore, as of July 20, all public and private beaches on the island of New Providence, Paradise Island, Rose Island, Athol Island, and surrounding cays will be closed as of 05:00. Indoor dining is also not permitted, bars will be closed, and public gatherings, including church services and sports activities, will be prohibited.
Separately, as of Wednesday, July 22, international commercial flights and commercial vessels carrying passengers will not be permitted to enter The Bahamas, except for commercial flights from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, but only after presenting proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of their arrival. No ferry services will be operating between East End, Grand Bahama Island, and Abaco.
Bahamian authorities announced that the country's borders will be closed to US travelers from July 22 due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the US. Any Americans still on the islands will be allowed to leave after that date under special accommodations.
As of Tuesday, July 21, 174 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Bahamas, with 11 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in 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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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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