US raises COVID risk rating for Bahamas

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May 11, 2022

THE United States' Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has raised The Bahamas' COVID-19 Travel Risk Advisory Rating to level two, moderate risk, in response to the recent rise in virus cases.

The reclassification was reflected on the CDC’s website, which was last updated on May 9.

The Level 2 rating advises international travellers to be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines before travelling.

It also states that vaccinated travellers with weakened immune systems or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should speak to their physicians and consider delaying travel to The Bahamas.

Yesterday, Tourism, Investments and Aviation Minister Chester Cooper said he was not concerned about the increased rating and that he didn’t think it would affect travel to The Bahamas.

He maintained that the country remained a relatively safe destination, noting that most of the archipelagic islands are not recording high virus numbers, if even any at all.

“As you know, we have been a level one, which is the lowest possible rating. We see the numbers have been trekking upward and I believe that this is not different from what we have seen throughout the pandemic. There have been peaks and there have been valleys,” the acting prime minister said before attending yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

“I think at level two, there is minimal concern from the international community. I believe when we get to a stage like level four there becomes more concern from corporate and group clients, but level two just indicates that it’s moving in the wrong direction and we as Bahamians must continue to follow the protocols to ensure that we contain it at the level two or reduce it to level one.”

He added: “I think the world has adjusted to COVID. The world is fatigued with COVID. There is significant pent-up demand and The Bahamas is seen as a generally safe place with low COVID numbers.

“You would also be aware that most of the COVID cases are in New Providence. You have 16 island destinations. Some of our islands, like Ragged Island, never had a single case of COVID so many of our guests understand that The Bahamas is a relatively safe place.

“… We have got to continue to tell our own story. We will continue to run our own race and we’ll continue to follow the protocols. The CDC will do what they wish and we will certainly monitor the science that we see on the ground. We will put in place protocols to protect health and safety of the Bahamian people and to balance the growth of tourism and our economy.

He was also asked about concerns that the increase in cases could hinder the government’s plans for recent cultural events.

“I don’t see any change as a result of the slight uptick in COVID,” he told reporters. “I think these homecomings and regattas are going to go on. We clearly will monitor as we move along to see whether the numbers are increasing any further, but right now there is no concern as it relates to the ongoing celebrations of homecomings and regattas.

“You would have seen the Exuma regatta went on and it was fantastic in that people followed protocols as best as practical and I’m not a scientist, but based on the numbers that I see in Exuma more than two weeks after regatta, I think we’ve done very well.”

The CDC reduced the country’s travel rating from a level three to a level two in March and then further lowered it to a level one in April due to a sustained downward trend in infection rates at the time.

However, in recent weeks, there has been a slight increase in COVID infections, with 16 cases recorded on Sunday and 37 on Saturday. At last report, nine people were said to be in hospital sick with the disease.

Ministry of Health and Wellness’ National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme director Dr Nikkiah Forbes told The Tribune Sunday that 65 percent of the new COVID-19 cases in the last epidemiological week were transmitted locally.

She was unable to say whether the country was facing another surge, only telling this newspaper that officials were closely monitoring the situation.

Click here to read more at The Tribune

News date : 05/11/2022    Category : Covid-19, Health, Tribune Stories

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