Bahamas quarantines two residents who recently returned from China

The Bahamas government says anyone who has travelled to China in the last 20 days will be quarantined as authorities respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed more than 200 people in China

Health Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed that so far two Bahamians, who recently returned from the Asian country, have been quarantined at an undisclosed location.

“The idea of quarantine is to minimise the risk of transmission from persons who may have been exposed to the virus.”

— Gourville, WHO representative

“Effective immediately, any non-resident, regardless of nationality, who has visited China in the last 20 days will be denied entry into the country.  All residents returning to The Bahamas will be strictly quarantined and monitored for development of symptoms for the duration of the incubation period for a maximum of 14 days,” added Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillan.

Incubation period

She said that so far “there have been no suspected, reported or confirmed cases” of the virus even as Dr Esther de Gourville, a representative of World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO), sought to give the assurance that the quarantine of two individuals was done as a precaution.

“Evidence suggests that the incubation period, the period between exposure to the virus and coming down with symptoms, could be as long as 10 to 14 days; and evidence also suggests that persons may be asymptomatic and still able to transmit the virus to others,” de Gourville said.

“So the idea of quarantine is to minimise the risk of transmission from persons who may have been exposed to the virus and as yet [are] not manifesting symptoms, to their close family members or to the medical services if they develop symptoms.

“So the quarantine is a period of observation and, should symptoms develop, medical care will be offered to persons of concern.”

The Health Minister said that there’s an estimated 160 nationals in China, but that there were no plans for them to be evacuated.

But he said that those who wish to return have been in communication with the government, and the Ministry of Health along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been working together on a “schedule” for the arrival of those individuals.