(CMC) – The Bahamas government has reversed an earlier decision that allowed vaccinated travellers not to test for the coronavirus (COVID-19) before entering the country, saying that they will now be required to obtain a Rapid Antigen Test or PCR, with a negative result, within five days of arrival.
“All children, between the ages of two and 11, wishing to enter The Bahamas will now be required to obtain a COVID-19 test (Rapid Antigen Test or PCR), with a negative result, within five days of arrival in The Bahamas. All children, under the age of two, are exempt from any testing requirements,” according to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister.
“All travellers, entering The Bahamas on a cruise ship, will be subjected to the testing requirements mandated by the cruise line and approved by the Competent Authority,” the statement said, adding that “all fully vaccinated travellers wishing to travel within The Bahamas, will now be required to obtain a COVID-19 test (Rapid Antigen Test or PCR), with a negative result, within five days of the travel date from the following islands: New Providence, Grand Bahama, Bimini, Exuma, Abaco and North and South Eleuthera, including Harbour Island”.
It said that for unvaccinated persons wishing to travel within The Bahamas, “all persons, who are 12 years and older and who are unvaccinated, will still be required to obtain a PCR test taken within five days of the travel date”.
Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme, Dr Nikkiah Forbes, said it is wise to test fully vaccinated travellers and that the changes are “based upon the newly available scientific data that vaccinated persons who get breakthrough infections will have as much COVID-19 in their airways as unvaccinated persons.
“So that data supports that vaccinated persons can spread COVID-19 should they get a breakthrough infection, especially since the delta variant and other variants are spreading. That’s very important and useful information. The changes also will fall in line with CDC (US Center for Disease Control) recommendations with international travel. If you read the CDC guidelines, it says international travel is a risk for spreading COVID-19 in light of emerging variant strains,” he added.
Late last month, Health Minister Renward Well defended the decision not to require vaccinated travellers to test for COVID-19 before entering the country.
Wells told a news conference that the risk of vaccinated travellers spreading COVID-19 was low.
The Office of the Prime Minister said that all Bahamians and residents traveling within the country will not have to pay domestic travel health visa fees.