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New rules and regulations for more flexibility in COVID-19 management

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#TheBahamas, November 3, 2021 – The Government has moved to bring about new rules and regulations to replace exiting COVID-19 Emergency Orders to allow more flexibility in managing the changing variables of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville tabled the new measures in the House of Assembly on November 1, 2021, as foreshadowed in the Davis Administration’s ‘Blueprint for Change.’

And, he also tabled an amendment to Section 29 of the Health Services Act, to allow the management of the COVID-19 pandemic to become the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Dr. Darville told the House that he was humbled and honoured to table two regulatory documents: The Health Services (COVID 19) (Prevention and Management of Community Spread) Rules, 2021, and the Health Services (COVID 19) (General) Rules, 2021.

“Our new Prime Minister pledged a science-based, compassionate, common-sense, and respectful approach to managing the pandemic, and we believe the Rules in these documents meet the standard he set for us,” he said.

The Minister also confirmed that, on the 13 November 2021, the current COVID-19 Emergency Orders will fall away, and the Competent Authority will be dismantled.

“We are amending Section 29 of the existing Health Services Act so that the management of the COVID-19 pandemic will now be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” he said.

“These new Rules will replace the Emergency Orders.  They will also allow us the flexibility to make adjustments as the need arises to respond to the changing variables of the pandemic.”

Dr. Darville reported that in recent weeks, COVID-19 case counts and the nation’s positivity rate have been falling, indicating “extraordinary progress.”

“We are pleased to note this improvement took place despite concerns that changing the curfew would cause a spike in cases.  Instead, the opposite has happened,” he said.

But according to Dr. Darville, the COVID-19 crisis is still very much around; noting that the Delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original virus.

“There are new variants that may prove to be more transmissible yet, or more lethal.  Anyone who says they know exactly what the virus will do next hasn’t learned from experience. The virus has surprised the world before and it could do so again,” he said.

“Yet we have learned a lot about how to wage a successful battle against the virus, and our hard-earned knowledge is reflected in these new rules.”

These Rules also outline the requirements for international travelers entering The Bahamas, and the requirements for domestic inter-island travel, and address testing requirements and specific circumstances that permit exemption from COVID-19 testing.

The second set of rules called The Health Services (COVID19) (General) Rules 2021 speak to the management of COVID-19 in the country, essential COVID-19 protocols, COVID-19 testing supplies, facilities, and the reporting of results. It also outlines the process regarding enforcement of these rules, and the penalties for non-compliance.

Dr. Darville states another important component of these rules is the appointment of an Advisory Committee that will be comprised of experts in epidemiology, supplies management and logistics, health services administration, and public health, among others.

“This Advisory   Committee   will   advise   and   make   recommendations   regarding   the management and control of the pandemic, so that we can continue balancing public health concerns with the need to fast-track our economic recovery,” Dr. Darville said.

 

By Lindsay Thompson

Release: BIS

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

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Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.

He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.

While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell  explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.

“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”

He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue.  The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that  TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.

“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”

Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”

“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.

He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.

“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”

Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.

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Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.

After the minister resigned – unceremoniously –  in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.

Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.

Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”

Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings.  Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.

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MYSC set to begin training for National Youth Guard

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Robyn Adderley, BIS

#FREEPORT, The Bahamas, November 25, 2022 – Officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture along with members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and Defence Force toured the Police Training College on Tuesday, November 22 in preparation of the start of the Bahamas National Youth Guard training programme.

Sandena Neely, Head of the Division of Youth, explained that the Bahamas National Youth Guard is a programme designed to train young Bahamians to serve during a national disaster.

Participants are to be between the ages of 18 and 25 and Bahamians willing to serve their country.

“In the event of a natural disaster, we want to implement a strategy where young Bahamians are going to be able to facilitate being a part of every part of the national disaster plan from prevention and mitigation all the way to recovery.”

She explained that they were touring the Police College in Grand Bahama because it is the proposed site for their three-month training. Training starts in January and will include Bahamians nationwide to be trained, skilled and certified so that they can return to their communities and serve.

The 27-month programme starts with three months of training, followed by three months of internship during which time they will receive a stipend, and then they will be on-call for the remaining 21 months. If they are called to serve during that period, they will receive an additional stipend.

While touring the campus, the delegation started with the auditorium where most of the time would be spent. In there, along with the all-purpose room, there are three classrooms and one computer lab.

The delegation was comprised of Ministry of Youth officials Undersecretary Montez Williams, Ms. Neely, Deputy Director of Sports Northern Bahamas Norris Bain, Youth Programmes Coordinator for the Grand Bahama Office Carla Brown-Roker, Programme Officer Kenneth Frazier, Youth Officer Kenneth Miller, Communications Officer Lamar Matthews and Kree Hanna, Administrative Assistant. From the Royal Bahamas Police Force there was ACP Dellareece Ferguson, ACP Kenwood Taylor, ACP Craig Stubbs, ACP Theophilus Cunningham and Assistant Superintendent Randolph Deleveaux.  Daryl Jones represented the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.

Then it was off to touring the dormitories that are equipped to house 32 males and 12 females.

The Bahamas National Youth Guard is being facilitated by the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and joined by partners from the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, NEMA, DRA, Social Services, the National Drug Council, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and others.

Programme Officer, Kenneth Frazier, Youth Officer at the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and Culture said training will begin the second week in January in Grand Bahama. The focus is on Grand Bahama and Abaco because those two islands are hardest hit by storms.

“We understand that people here are aware and understand what is needed for the persons in this programme.”

When disasters strike, he said, people within their own communities ought to be able to assist as soon as possible. As such, the call has gone out all over the country to get people to sign up for the programme.

“The idea is to have people within each community to have the skills needed to help mitigate response every part of the national disaster.”
The delegation then paid a courtesy call on the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Grand Bahama, Melvin Seymour, when they shared details of the programme.

According to Neely, “Stakeholders are the way that we operate. They are our arms, our feet, our legs. They help us to walk and help us to service. We are a youth development agency, but we know when and where to look for our partners who can help us to bring programmes to life.”

The programme, Ms. Neely further explained, came to being because it is important for residents to be able to assist themselves.

She closed with, “We want to build a generation of Bahamians who are able to help ourselves whenever a disaster or some emergency happens in our country.”

 

Photo Captions:

Header: A group from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, led by Undersecretary Montez Williams, travelled to Grand Bahama to tour the Police Training College where the three-month training programme for the National Youth Guard is set to begin in January. The tour took place on Tuesday, November 22 and included staff from the Ministry of Youth, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

1st insert: A tour of the dorms at the Police Training College was on the agenda as the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture is set to begin a three-month training programme for the Bahamas National Youth Guard in January. Sandena Neely, Head of the Division of Youth, is seen discussing what will be needed during the tour on Tuesday, November 22. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

2nd insert:  A delegation from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force on Tuesday, November 22, toured the classrooms of the Police Training College in Freeport. The three-month training programme for the Bahamas National Youth Guard is set to begin the second week in January. (BIS Photo/Andrew Miller)

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