FULL STATEMENT from April 1, 2020 National Update:
I wanted to provide an update on where we are today in our ongoing battle against the health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. As expected, we are in a surge.
There is community spread. I want to announce that there are six new cases.
This means that as of today, April 1st, 2020, there are 21 COVID-19 positive cases identified: 18 on New Providence and three on Grand Bahama.
The six new cases are all on New Providence. One of the new cases has a link to Grand Bahama. There are 1,500 diagnostic test kits in-country.
Aggressive contact tracing continues. Health officials are following cases day by-day. Through GIS mapping we have identified hotspots on New Providence and we have undertaken GIS mapping on Grand Bahama to identify hotspots there. We will be vigorously stepping-up enforcement of the curfew in hot spots.
This situation is constantly changing and evolving. So, we have to adapt and to act quickly and decisively.
The information we give the public will also change and develop. We are working hard to give the public
and the media the timeliest and most accurate information possible.
I want to address this afternoon the death of an individual who was transported from Bimini to New Providence.
First, I want to offer condolences to the family of the deceased, including to the Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration, Elsworth Johnson.
We know that this is a very painful time for the family. The Minister of Health and other health officials have spoken publicly on the matter.
The COVID-19 test came back positive. The family has been informed. Contact tracing has begun.
We pray for the deceased and the individual’s family members during this very difficult time.
Let me speak to the difficult and challenging issue of community spread.
Our best weapon in this battle remains physical distancing and Bahamians and residents staying at home. I want to thank all of those who are following the various regulations and guidelines.
You are saving lives and you are protecting your health and the health of others. The Royal Bahamas Police Force continues to enforce the regulations. Those who fail to follow the Orders and regulations are risking their health and the health of others.
They are distracting the police from other essential duties and they may be prosecuted for failing to abide by the regulations, which are designed to save lives.
I want to speak very directly to all Family Island residents today.
The Orders and regulations we put in place apply to all of The Bahamas.
I am asking Family Island residents to stay at home except for the exemptions within the Orders.
Please do not go wandering from settlement to settlement visiting friends and family.
We have to prevent any possible spread of COVID-19 on every island and cay.
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.
Our greatest tool in the fight against this virus is following the public health advice to
be physically distant from one another. There is no vaccine for this virus as yet.
There is no cure.
The life in our Family Islands is very communal. 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.
As much as possible, stay at home!
We are all at risk from COVID-19 no matter our age, what neighborhood we are in or what island we are on. This deadly and dangerous virus that discriminates against no one; including young people.
Stay at home! Stay at home!
We are in daily contact with the Family Islands to assess the situation on the ground.
Let me talk about our medical and health care professionals who are putting themselves at risk to save our lives and to help the sick to recover.
Every medical professional available is being called in to help. On the frontlines of our citizen army
fighting COVID-19 are doctors, nurses, medical technologists, hospital and clinic workers and others.
Let me be very clear and to the point, so far more than 50 healthcare workers have
had to be taken out of the system because of exposure to the virus.
On behalf of all of us, I thank every health care workers throughout our country. I know firsthand what they are going through.
I understand the stress and the anxiety. But I want them to know that we will win this battle and that we are getting them every resource possible to win this fight.
I am extremely proud and grateful to my medical colleagues who are working around the clock and under tremendous pressure. I also have two children who are medical doctors and who are on the frontline.
Let me say this to my colleagues and to the Bahamian people, I will do everything in my power to protect the health and lives of our health care professionals and workers.
Every health care professional fighting COVID-19 and protecting our general healthcare a part of the flesh and blood of our community. As Prime Minister, as a medical doctor, and as a father, it is my solemn duty to protect the flesh and blood and the well-being of our health care heroes.
They must be protected for their own sake and for ours. We are working to balance COVID-19 care with regular healthcare.
Toward this end, I wish to announce an Amendment of Order 5 of S. I. No. 27 of 2020. EMERGENCY POWERS (COVID 19) REGULATIONS, 2020 EMERGENCY POWERS (COVID 19) (NO. 2) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 4) ORDER, 2020
In exercise of the powers conferred on me by the Emergency Powers (Covid-19) Regulations, 2020, HEREBY make the following Order- Subparagraph (1) (b) of Order 5 of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No. 2) Order, 2020 is amended by the insertion immediately after the words “medical facilities, of the words – “provided that – (i) All private medical and dental practices shall eliminate all routine
and non-emergency physical encounters with patients, and shall as best as possible provide all routine and non-emergency services using virtual or remote means excluding private renal dialysis facilities; and
(ii) Where physical interaction is a necessity due to a medical emergency there must be strict adherence to physical distancing and hygienic requirements”.
To add to our citizen army and to help free some of our health care professionals for other duties, we are asking for volunteers to help the country in this hour of need.
A Volunteer Hotline is being set up to register individuals who are interested in contributing to this fight against COVID19. We will soon provide more details on this.
I also want to provide an update on various medical facilities.
The Modular Unit at the Princess Margaret Hospital will be able to accommodate four additional patients with in a purposed built controlled environment. The facility has positive to negative air flow with 20 air exchanges per hour of fresh air.
The air is filtered throughout. Intake air and exhausted air is filtered and also treated with ultraviolet light irradiation as further protection to ensure viral and bacterial kill. Similarly, the South Beach Clinic is currently being modified in the same way to accommodate 10 patients in order to accommodate a surge.
There are also protocols at the various facilities for the intake of suspect cases. We face two crises.
One is the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives around the world and that will claim many more. The other is the economic crisis it has caused that will persist after the virus is beaten back.
Joblessness is on the rise across the globe and here at home.
The economic crisis is severe for The Bahamas. Our economy is based on tourism.
The world has closed its borders. We have closed our borders. Countries have had to do this to prevent the spread of a virus that has the potential to kill many people.
With no tourists coming to our shores now and into the foreseeable future, tough times are here and ahead of us. This is one of the greatest challenges to the world economy in most of our lifetimes.
We do not know how long this will last. But we do know that we will overcome this virus.
As we had to assume great authority through the Emergency Powers Act, my Government will have to make major changes to our economy. Tourism, which has carried us so well for so long, is in a state of suspension due to the virus.
When it comes back The Bahamas we must be ready to welcome the world to our shores. However, no one knows when that will be.
As a people we have to be ready to shift how we operate. We have to be ready for generational changes to the economic structure of our commonwealth.
On the crisis assistance front, the Minister of Finance has announced two rounds of relief measures to help those hurt by the virus.
These measures amount to tens of millions of dollars in various types of assistance.
I urge everyone in need to make use of the initiatives that include food assistance, unemployment benefits, loans, and tax credits and deferrals. We will also shortly be making an announcement about rental assistance.
To find ways to stimulate our economy now and in order to create a masterplan to rebuild our economy and to promote our social development, I will convene a high-level group of economic and other experts to provide concrete ideas and plans to the Government of The Bahamas.
This group will help us to help chart the way forward for our national, economic and social recovery.
I will make a further announcement on this in due course.
Even as we fight this health battle, we must be prepared for the economic battle ahead. Let me make some additional announcements. We are working on supermarket schedule to reduce the number of people on lines and in stores. This will be released by the end of the week.
Tonight at 8pm the Ministry of Health will host a Virtual Town Hall focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health, Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities.
The public is invited to participate by sending in their questions via the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page or WhatsApping questions to 828-1265 or call in at 5027382.
This will be the first in a series of Virtual Town Halls that will allow members of the public to ask questions directly to health officials. Let me just say to every Bahamian and resident: Seven months ago Dorian was hitting Abaco, and soon to be over Grand Bahama.
Now, Covid-19 has struck, sending death and devastation around the world. We will only overcome through unity of purpose and God’s guidance and grace.
Let us pray for both.
My life as a doctor and as a surgeon has taught me about the need to maintain a strong head, a strong spirit and strong hands in a crisis.
But I also need your prayers, your help as a part of our citizen army, your ideas for our future and your continued adherence to the emergency orders and regulations on every island in our country.
We will only win these battles together.
From the Office of the Prime Minister, The Bahamas
Statement on Road Traffic Department
#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.
On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.
This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.
To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.
The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.
While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.
Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.
The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.
The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.
September 26th, 2022
Ministry of Transport & Housing
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini
NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.
Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.
The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.
During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.
The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.
Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.
(A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.)
Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.
Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.
Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:
- Downed power lines.
- Sewage and other contaminants.
- Large Holes.
- Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
- Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
- Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.
Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:
If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:
- Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
- Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.
If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.
The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.
Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister
By KATHRYN CAMPBELL
Bahamas Information Services
#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 – A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.
During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.
Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.
He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.
“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”
“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.
“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”
The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.
Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.
He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.
Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.
He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.
During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.
“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.
The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.
(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)
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