D'Aguilar: Fake vaccination cards are a concern

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May 03, 2021

TOURISM Minister Dionisio D'Aguilar says officials will have to determine what sort of mechanism will be needed to ensure visitors are not using false vaccination cards when applying for travel health visas.

Over the weekend, Tourism officials announced that with immediate effect citizens and residents who are fully vaccinated, having received two doses of the COVID-19 shot, are exempted from testing requirements when travelling domestically from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera to any other island.

#And, as of last Saturday, internationally fully vaccinated visitors to The Bahamas from other countries who have also passed the two-week immunity period are also exempted for entry and inter-island travel.
#Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said the possibility of people uploading false vaccination documents is a concern for his ministry, given the fact that many US states and other countries use different vaccination cards.
#He added that while the situation is “unfortunate”, it’s something the government will have to deal with by implementing certain features via its travel health visa online platform to limit the risk of people entering the country by fraudulent means.
#He said: “So let’s face it, 93 percent of our foreign visitors right now come from the US. Flights from Canada are not still operating and there’s no direct non-stop flight from Europe to the Bahamas so most travellers coming to the country are coming either by aircraft or by pleasure craft from the United States.”
#“So, every jurisdiction, every municipality and every testing site seems to have a different document so there is that concern, clearly, that we will have to determine a mechanism in place as to how we’re going to vet these and how we’re going to process these and how we’re going to ensure that as many fraudulent documents as possible don’t slip through.
#But, obviously, in every instance where you have to upload documents, there’s always the concern of fraudulent documents being uploaded.”
#According to international reports, more than 100 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to date.
#This also means that over 100 million Americans are now eligible to enter the country without having to take a COVID test after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis relaxed travel protocols for fully vaccinated people.
#Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said he believes the vaccination perk will make the country a more attractive destination for visitors and added officials expect that the Bahamas will have a busier summer than was seen last year.
#Asked if officials have seen an uptick in travel applicants since the latest travel announcements, the minister replied: “It is too early to tell. It’s being warmly received by the industry but it’s still too early to tell what the difference before the announcement and after the announcement, just not enough time has elapsed yet.”
#Officials said yesterday that 64,047 travel visas were bought in April.
#The new travel rules, however, comes at a time when the country is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with total infections at 10,549 as of Saturday.
#Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar reiterated the government’s stance on the new protocol despite concerns about the move, insisting officials are relying on the latest science.
#He also noted that if fully vaccinated people do contract the virus, research has shown it is less likely for them to spread it to someone else.
#“The reality is the risk is significantly diminished, not eliminated if you are vaccinated and we felt that it was safe and appropriate to remove any other requirements from vaccinated persons,” he told The Tribune.
#Mr D’Aguilar also noted that once a vaccinated person gets their health visa approved, they will no longer need to be constantly “vetted” for the next six months, allowing for a smooth process.

Over the weekend, Tourism officials announced that with immediate effect citizens and residents who are fully vaccinated, having received two doses of the COVID-19 shot, are exempted from testing requirements when travelling domestically from New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera to any other island.

And, as of last Saturday, internationally fully vaccinated visitors to The Bahamas from other countries who have also passed the two-week immunity period are also exempted for entry and inter-island travel.

Speaking to The Tribune yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said the possibility of people uploading false vaccination documents is a concern for his ministry, given the fact that many US states and other countries use different vaccination cards.

He added that while the situation is “unfortunate”, it’s something the government will have to deal with by implementing certain features via its travel health visa online platform to limit the risk of people entering the country by fraudulent means.

He said: “So let’s face it, 93 percent of our foreign visitors right now come from the US. Flights from Canada are not still operating and there’s no direct non-stop flight from Europe to the Bahamas so most travellers coming to the country are coming either by aircraft or by pleasure craft from the United States.”

“So, every jurisdiction, every municipality and every testing site seems to have a different document so there is that concern, clearly, that we will have to determine a mechanism in place as to how we’re going to vet these and how we’re going to process these and how we’re going to ensure that as many fraudulent documents as possible don’t slip through.

But, obviously, in every instance where you have to upload documents, there’s always the concern of fraudulent documents being uploaded.”

According to international reports, more than 100 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus to date.

This also means that over 100 million Americans are now eligible to enter the country without having to take a COVID test after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis relaxed travel protocols for fully vaccinated people.

Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar said he believes the vaccination perk will make the country a more attractive destination for visitors and added officials expect that the Bahamas will have a busier summer than was seen last year.

Asked if officials have seen an uptick in travel applicants since the latest travel announcements, the minister replied: “It is too early to tell. It’s being warmly received by the industry but it’s still too early to tell what the difference before the announcement and after the announcement, just not enough time has elapsed yet.”

Officials said yesterday that 64,047 travel visas were bought in April.

The new travel rules, however, comes at a time when the country is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, with total infections at 10,549 as of Saturday.

Yesterday, Mr D’Aguilar reiterated the government’s stance on the new protocol despite concerns about the move, insisting officials are relying on the latest science.

He also noted that if fully vaccinated people do contract the virus, research has shown it is less likely for them to spread it to someone else.

“The reality is the risk is significantly diminished, not eliminated if you are vaccinated and we felt that it was safe and appropriate to remove any other requirements from vaccinated persons,” he told The Tribune.

Mr D’Aguilar also noted that once a vaccinated person gets their health visa approved, they will no longer need to be constantly “vetted” for the next six months, allowing for a smooth process.

Click here to read more at The Tribune

News date : 05/03/2021    Category : Covid-19, Tribune Stories

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