October 26, 2020
As The Islands of The Bahamas moves towards safely and effectively discontinuing its current “Vacation in Place” protocol, and begins to implement new testing requirements for all visitors, returning citizens and residents on 1st November, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation has announced a solution for securing a steady supply of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests.
Through a public-private partnership with the Living With COVID Coalition (LWCC), a not-for-profit coalition within the Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG), The Bahamas will have access to as many as 3 million World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health-approved rapid antigen tests. The tests will be provided by medical solutions provider, Ports International, at a low cost per unit.
“We are grateful for this partnership with LWCC,” said Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar. “Having uninterrupted access to high-quality rapid antigen tests is a crucial component for us to begin reinvigorating our critically important tourism sector. The new testing protocols are designed so that we can responsibly enforce public health and safety measures, while giving our visitors a better and more seamless vacation experience, ultimately allowing tourism-dependent professionals to get back to work.”
The new protocols will require visitors, returning citizens and residents to obtain a RT-PCR (swab) test no more than seven days prior to travelling to The Bahamas. A rapid antigen test will then be conducted upon arrival and again five days (96 hours) after their arrival.
Simplifying the testing, reporting and case management process is a secure, web-based, end-to-end management system that will allow Tourism and Health authorities to have real-time visitor and resident data and more effectively manage those with positive test results.
“We are proud to partner with the Government of the Bahamas on this nationally significant initiative,” said Thomas Bethel, LWCC Head of Operations. “COVID-19 will be here for a while and we believe that it is our responsibility as Bahamians to work together, act fast, and present a practical and responsible solution that is simple, easy, rapid and connected. Our diverse membership of concerned Bahamians from the private sector, civil society, academia, labour, politics and religious society are all feeling the strain from the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s up to each of us to get tested and follow the health protocols if we want to save our economy.”
He added that LWCC will be making tests and the management platform available to any lab, doctor's office, clinic, pharmacy, business, organization or government entity that wishes to join the national platform. All those participating have agreed to work at cost or for free.
According to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) the fast and reliable antigen tests recently approved by WHO are set to transform COVID-19 response in the region. PAHO said the new tests are much more accurate than previous versions in determining if someone is currently infected, and allow health workers to better identify and isolate cases rapidly.
For more information on the Living With COVID Coalition and how to support its efforts, please visit www.livingwithcovid.org and follow @lwccbahamas on Facebook and Twitter.