House: face mask supply runs low

  • The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the Covid-19 virus (File photograph)

    The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the Covid-19 virus (File photograph)

Bermuda has a shortage of face masks as it continues to guard against the killer strain of coronavirus.

Health minister Kim Wilson told the House of Assembly today that talks are under way with the government agency Public Health England to import more masks.

One centralised area will then be set up to distribute them, Ms Wilson said.

The minister told MPs Bermuda remains free of Covid-19, but warned the world could be facing a pandemic in the coming weeks.

She said it was “likely just a matter of time before we are face to face with this new public health threat”.

Ms Wilson said: “We are in a phase of preparedness for a potential pandemic. We must focus on preparing for this situation.

“According to the WHO, we must prepare to detect cases, prepare to treat cases, prepare to follow contacts, and prepare to put in place adequate containment measures to control the spread.”

She said the Public Health Response Team, comprising people from 15 sectors, meets at least twice weekly to update on preparations, discuss risks and identify vulnerabilities in the community.

The minister continued: “We are well aware of the many concerns of the public, and within the Phert working groups we are endeavouring daily to address these concerns.”

She said Customs officers have received heightened training and must ask all travellers where they have travelled in the past 21 days.

“All passengers, Bermuda residents and visitors, must be asked this question. Depending on the

answer, travellers may be referred to a public health officer for further risk assessment and advice,” she said.

People are required to quarantine themselves in their homes for up to 14 days, and monitor themselves for signs of illness such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Ms Wilson said: “The challenges presented by individuals having to be quarantined can be quite complex, and require co-operation of individuals, their workplaces and schools.

“Individuals under self-quarantine will have to miss work or school and should avoid all public spaces.

“They must avoid public transportation and places where people gather such as faith gatherings, sports events, and concerts, for example.

“Pandemic preparedness policies are required by schools, workplaces, and employers to enable people to stay home when sick or when being quarantined, without penalty.”

The minister called on hotels and guest accommodations to implement “robust sanitation programmes and infection prevention and control policies”.

She said: “They must be able to identify early any guest who may be ill with a serious infectious disease so that prompt advice from medical and public health professionals can be sought.

“The tourism sector is collaborating closely with health to maintain a healthy tourism product.”

Ms Wilson added: “I am appealing for solidarity. Covid-19 prevention and control will require nothing short of community-wide and bipartisan collaboration to keep Bermuda safe.”• To read Kim Wilson’s ministerial statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

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Published Feb 28, 2020 at 10:41 am (Updated Feb 28, 2020 at 3:39 pm)

House: face mask supply runs low

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