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Staff in quarantine in Abaco after being exposed to COVID-19

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

NORTH and Central Abaco Administrator Terrece Bootle-Laing and around 10 of her staff are in quarantine on Abaco after being exposed to COVID-19 earlier this week.

The administrator told The Tribune yesterday she and her colleagues were placed on a two-week quarantine after an employee at the office tested positive for the virus.

This, she said, has also sparked the closure of the Administrator’s Office in Central Abaco until further notice.

“We had a temporary staff (member) in office who is confirmed positive so as a result of that, we have had to close the office for deep cleaning and self-quarantine of staff to be monitored,” she told The Tribune. “We’re in the process of identifying a contractor who can assist us with the deep cleaning exercise.

“…Currently, we have at least 10 of my staff in quarantine.”

She added that she was also in quarantine.

“We kind of expected that should someone present themselves who would’ve had any feelings whether in the workplace or business dealings with us, that would’ve been the result.”

The employee, Mrs Bootle-Laing said, was temporarily employed at her office. She also said the worker is currently being treated in New Providence. However, Mrs Bootle-Laing could not say whether the patient was in hospital in the capital.

According to the latest COVID-19 dashboard, the Abaco chain now has 30 confirmed cases, making it the island with the fourth largest number of COVID-19 cases. Two new cases were recorded on the island by health officials on Tuesday.

Mrs Bootle-Laing said the worker was recorded as a case on the island. She said officials still plan to work and carry out their duties while under quarantine.

“The office will be closed until further notice and so as best as we can, only emergencies, we will assist people electronically from remotely. Most of our undertaking in business can be done electronically which is a good thing,” she added.

“We also have another office in the north and so once they reach out to me or some assistance, pretty much we can facilitate what I need to do and what staff need to do electronically.”

The administrator’s office is located in the government’s complex in the Marsh Harbour area. It was used as a shelter for hundreds of Dorian victims during and after the deadly storm.

To this day, the complex is still being used to house government agencies to assist storm victims on the island. However, due to the Prime Minister’s COVID-19 orders, only essential workers under certain agencies are currently working from the complex.

Asked yesterday if the entire government complex would need to be cleaned due to possible COVID-19 exposure, Mrs Bootle-Laing replied: “Not necessarily because the worker is a temporary (staff) and they were substituting for a permanent staff and so it is just after the public health team to link the movement through information from the individual, link their movement throughout the government complex and that is what they have undertaking to trace what department they would have dealt with and what environment they would’ve worked in .”

Meanwhile, Central and South Abaco MP James Albury added that officials would have to be guided by health professionals in order to make a decision on the matter.

He told The Tribune: “The government complex houses just about all of the government offices in Abaco so what we’re doing now is that I will be in touch with the health team including the health administrator and his team on the ground.”

He added: “We’re going to go by their recommendations based on what should be done so based on their recommendations is what all the officers will end up following but as of now, there hasn’t been.. non-essential offices have been closed so not all of the offices are open as of now anyhow but we will following the advice of the health team once they make those recommendations.”

In the meantime, Mr Albury is urging locals who may be displaying some COVID-19 symptoms or have recently been in close proximity with a positive case to contact the relevant authorities.

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