By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER health officials raised an alarm about an increase of COVID-19 cases in Eleuthera, one island official said some people are coming to the island and not adhering to the 14-day quarantine protocol.
Others are said to be having social gatherings which could also be a risk factor.
Gregory Knowles, South Eleuthera island administrator, said: “Persons who come for weddings or somebody comes for funerals from New Providence or elsewhere that really have the virus and so really we are very concerned about that.
“We’re very conscious of persons who come into the island to ensure that they have the proper testing before they come and if they’re coming from New Providence they’re required to go into quarantine, that’s a must.
“For persons coming into the island of Eleuthera… to ensure they have their COVID test and they follow the safety protocols which is very important and if they have to go in quarantine they should be honest in terms of them going into quarantine and then abide by it until the quarantine time is expired - because that’s one of the issues that we normally faced with people who come in, they have to go into quarantine, but some adhere to the protocol, but some don’t.”
The COVID-19 guideline for inter-island travel stipulates individuals travelling from New Providence undergo a RTPCR COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test and have a negative result prior to applying for a travel health visa.
Upon arrival on the other island, they must submit to mandatory quarantine at a government-identified facility or any other appropriate facility as determined by the Ministry of Health, at the traveller’s expense, for 14 days or for the duration of stay if for a lesser period, guidelines state.
At a press conference on Friday, officials said some Family Islands are now demonstrating increases in new cases after a period of COVID quiet – in particular Eleuthera and the Berry Islands. Officials said they have already made recommendations to the government for more restrictions to be added on those two islands.
After the recent weekend lockdown announcement for Abaco and New Providence, the island administrator noted a boat from the capital came to Eleuthera. He doesn’t know, however, if those passengers were allowed to stay on the island.
According to Mr Knowles, appeals were made to the locals to make sure they take safe measures and precautions in terms of mask wearing and social distancing. While the majority of the people are really adhering to the emergency orders, he said some people are having little social gatherings.
He said: “Persons get within their community environment and congregate within that family setting. That’s where problems start and that’s how problems have started.”
Meanwhile, Central Eleuthera administrator Whelma Colebrook said local officials have been having meetings and community patrols to ensure protocols are being adhered to.
She said if the government imposes stricter measures on the island, residents will have to abide by them for the benefit of the whole community.
Eleuthera recorded two new cases on Saturday and one additional case on Sunday. As of Sunday, the island had 35 confirmed cases overall.