Wilson delighted by upgrade to ‘sporadic cases’

  • Press conference

  • Great news: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, announces that 336 clear Covid-19 tests came back yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Great news: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, announces that 336 clear Covid-19 tests came back yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Aaron Adderley, the president of Skyport, speaks on the reopening of the airport (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Aaron Adderley, the president of Skyport, speaks on the reopening of the airport (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

  • Graphic by Christina White

    Graphic by Christina White

Bermuda’s Covid-19 status has been upgraded by an international health watchdog, it was revealed last night.

The Pan-American Health Organisation has raised the island’s country status from clusters of Covid-19 cases to “sporadic cases”.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, revealed the news as she announced an “amazing” 336 clear test results for coronavirus had come back yesterday.

Ms Wilson said: “This is great news and we need to be very proud of our efforts.”

She warned the new country classification depended on the public sticking to precautions as the island reopened its borders to commercial flights next month.

Ms Wilson said: “It’s critical. The reality is, if people are looking at coming to Bermuda, one of the things they may do is look at the World Health Organisation and look at countries and their status.”

She said the PAHO rating showed “we have done a stellar job” in containment of the virus.

Ms Wilson added: “I think it’s critically important. If people are looking to travel to any jurisdiction, one of the things they’re probably going to look at is what is the country classification — how safe is it?”

Ms Wilson said one Covid-19 sufferer was being treated in hospital and four other people were under public health monitoring.

There have been a total of 146 cases of the illness and 132 people now recovered.

Nine deaths have been recorded.

Ms Wilson praised the 8,200 people who have now signed up for tracking app HealthIQ, which has brought the island closer to its goal of 10,000 people users.

Aaron Adderley, the president of Skyport, the operator of the airport, also appeared at the press conference last night.

Mr Adderley said the first commercial flight since the pandemic shutdown was expected on July 2. He added that forecasts of flights were unreliable, but that short-haul flights were expected to pick up faster than long-haul travel.

Mr Adderley added: “July will be a very slow ramp-up. Things will pick up in August.

“But we will never get back, at least this summer, to pre-Covid levels.”

He said the island was poised to benefit from visitors from North America with “cabin fever” after the long restrictions on air travel.

The new air terminal building had been on track to open this summer, but its testing phase has been delayed by international border closures. Mr Adderley added: “We are hoping we can get everything done by the end of the year.”

Mr Adderley gave a breakdown of precautions at the airport to “ensure the safety of passengers and employees”.

Face masks will be required inside the terminal, and only travelling passengers will be allowed inside the departures area after the airport reopens.

Passengers will also be encouraged to check in for flights online or at airport kiosks, and to use hand sanitisers.

Check-in counters will be protected by clear shields and social-distancing will be enforced for queues.

Mr Adderley said the objective was to minimise the amount of face-to-face contact.

He warned that some physical proximity would be unavoidable in the security area, but would be kept to a minimum.

Arriving passengers will undergo Covid-19 testing in the terminal and face masks must be worn in the building at all times.

Social-distancing and hand sanitisation will be enforced in the immigration hall.

Mr Adderley added that cashless transactions would be “strongly encouraged” and that checked bags would be disinfected before they were put on the conveyor belt for collection.

Passengers will be able to be greeted outside the terminal only.

Mr Adderley said all the procedures would be posted online.

David Burt, the Premier, said he knew many Bermudians were “concerned about the reopening of our borders”.

He added: “Increases and spikes in other places are cause for concern, but I am confident that our regime is robust.”

He said the economic advisory committee had met yesterday and would give recommendations to the Cabinet at its meeting today.

Mr Burt also criticised the “horrific act of violence against a female committed by a group of males” that shocked the island on Friday night.

He said the machete attack during a home invasion at Cedar Hill, Warwick, was “abhorrent violence” and a manifestation of hundreds of years of “abuse and trauma”.

The Premier added: “Too many of our young men feel disconnected and disenchanted.”

He said some acts of violence were committed by “those who do not see a place for themselves in our society”.

Mr Burt added that details of the fourth and final phase of relaxation of pandemic restrictions, which was still on track to start on July 1, would be announced at the next press conference on Thursday.

He said that Carika Weldon, the Bermudian scientist who has worked on coronavirus testing, and her laboratory had launched a WhatsApp service to give updates, which could be accessed at 441 500-1982.

Mr Burt said steps taken to save the Government $150 million should not be labelled a pay cut for civil servants.

Mr Burt said: “It is savings. There is no public officer that will take home less money than they are taking home now.”

He warned the public to continue to wear masks and not to become complacent.

Mr Burt said: “When we let our guard down, we will run the risk of going backwards.”

To view statements from the Premier and Minister of Health, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Jun 23, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 23, 2020 at 8:22 am)

Wilson delighted by upgrade to ‘sporadic cases’

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