Virus forces closure of govt offices as cases pass 1,000


Tribune Senior Reporter

THE Bahamas reached the grim milestone of more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday as government offices continued to shut down after exposure to the virus.

The forty-seven new cases include a single-day record 40 for New Providence. There were also five cases confirmed on Cat Island, one on Abaco and one on Exuma. New Providence has recorded 144 confirmed cases in the last week.

Cabinet Office announced that the Ministry of Health headquarters on Meeting Street was shut down for deep cleaning and sanitisation after officials learned that a staff member there tested positive for the virus. That person had not been to work since July 28.

“The Ministry of Health has initiated contact tracing to determine the level of exposure to employees and visitors to the buildings,” the statement said. The ministry is expected to reopen on Monday. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Delon Brennen said in lieu of the closure health officials will connect virtually rather than face-to-face.

Cabinet Office also announced that the administrative building at the northern compound and the security office of the Ministry of Public Works were closed for cleaning and sanitisation.

Meanwhile, the Public Hospitals Authority announced in a statement that yesterday at 12 its corporate offices, including buildings A and B, were closed for deep cleaning and sanitisation with operations to resume at 9am on Monday.

The authority said: “The PHA implemented its COVID-19 response plan yesterday when the positive result was reported. The Ministry of Health Surveillance Unit has initiated assessment and contact tracing and all national COVID-19 protocols are being followed to ensure the health and safety of staff.”

The temporary office closures came after the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield Centre on Cable Beach, which houses the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance, closed after a worker there tested positive for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest and Education Minister Jeff Lloyd have all voluntarily self-quarantined out of an abundance of caution after the buildings in which they work were exposed to the virus.