Burt on lockdown extension: we must sacrifice
Shelter-in-place regulations to combat the spread of Covid-19 will be extended into next month, the Premier announced last night.
David Burt said the Cabinet had decided to prolong shelter-in-place restrictions by another two weeks until May 2 after advice from the public health emergency response team.
Mr Burt added he was “keenly aware” of the impact that the extension, which will start on Saturday, would have on the way people lived and worked.
But Mr Burt insisted: “As a people, we must make this sacrifice, a sacrifice which is based on compassion for those of us who will die if they contract Covid-19.”
Mr Burt said four weeks of shelter-in-place restrictions may to cover two incubation periods for coronavirus infection.
He added there would be modifications to the state-of-emergency regulations, including permission for trips to laundromats and to pick up office materials by people forced to work from home. But Mr Burt warned that “families should not intermingle, to make sure they reduce any possible transmission of this virus”.
He added: “I also have to remind everyone, if you are leaving home, please wear a mask or a home-made face cover.”
Mr Burt said that a small and medium-sized business relief package, created by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, would be revealed today.
He added that Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, would also outline measures to help economic recovery “once we come out of this period of challenge”.
No new cases of Covid-19 were announced, although 38 tests are still to be processed.
Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, refused to identify a rest home where a member of staff had tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, the second to be hit. She insisted identification was “not necessarily of public interest”.
Dr Peek-Ball added: “We do try to preserve the privacy and the confidentiality of facilities.”
She said that included naming a business or organisation affected by Covid-19, when there was “no risk to the public’s safety”.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said there had been no more hospital admissions or deaths reported as a result of the disease.
But she pleaded for the public to help free beds at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital so it could prepare itself for an increase in patients hit by the coronavirus.
She said: “Everything we are doing in this community is to prevent this, by reducing the spread of the infection.
“But the facts are, right now, we don’t know how high the numbers are going to go.”
Ms Wilson told the public: “This means you must do your part and be part of the solution, by taking your loved ones home, when they’re medically fit to leave hospital.”
She said that some carriers of the coronavirus would have no symptoms and that reinfection “may be happening”.
Ms Wilson added that the most vulnerable should adopt “shielding” measures, such as not attending stores or any gatherings and staying at home “at all times”.
She said $20,000 had been donated to St John Ambulance from the Emergency Fund to provide transport to medical centres for people who showed symptoms of Covid-19.
Michael Richmond, the Bermuda Hospitals Board Chief of Staff, said that the hospital now had 30 extra acute-care beds.
He added that intensive-care capacity had increased from nine beds to “the ability to ventilate, at this moment in time, close to 30 patients using alternative facilities”.
Dr Richmond said that the number of BHB staff in quarantine had “significantly dropped” to 12.
Mr Burt said he wanted to “caution and beg” the media not to focus on the number of coronavirus test kits available on the island.
He was speaking after questions on reports that Bermuda had bought 35,000 testing kits from the Cayman Islands.
Mr Burt said that if 35,000 tests arrived tomorrow “the fact is, we don’t have the capacity to do that volume of tests”.
He added: “There’s numerous things that have to go along with that.”
He highlighted a shortage of swabs for use in tests and that the island had more test kits than swabs.
But he added that a second testing laboratory was being set up.
Mr Burt said the island had the capacity to test people that needed the procedure, which at present is based on referrals from doctors.
He added that more tests had been carried out on Monday than on any previous day.
Mr Burt said the Government had been told “good news” about the arrival of more medical supplies.
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said that virtual prison visits would soon be possible through technology such as Skype.
He confirmed there had been a case of “plantlike matter” being smuggled into a government quarantine centre and that the matter was being dealt with by the police.
Mr Caines added that Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers had carried out 13,633 traffic stops at 21 locations by Monday and there had been 44,600 stops in the past six days.
• To read the Premier’s statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
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