Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced on Friday, March 20, that an overnight curfew will be in effect from 21:00 until 05:00 (local time) from March 20 until Tuesday, March 31. The curfew may be extended depending on consultations with medical professions. A state of emergency is also in effect, allowing the government to restrict movement and business operations. All non-essential businesses are being ordered to temporarily close, while markets, banks, pharmacies, gas stations, and other businesses will operate on reduced hours. All sporting events, large gatherings, banquets, and receptions are prohibited. Public bus transportation and non-essential boat travel is also suspended.
Entry restrictions remain in effect as of Friday. Foreign nationals who have traveled to the UK, Europe, China, South Korea, or Iran within 20 days of arrival will not be allowed to enter the country. Bahamian nationals will be allowed to enter but must be placed into quarantine or self-isolation. The entry restrictions are expected to remain in place until at least April 13. Disruptions to flights to the country are also anticipated over the near term. The last outbound British Airways flight is scheduled to leave on Sunday, March 22.
As of March 20, four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.