UK flies in 1,800 Covid-19 test kits
Bermuda’s reserves of Covid-19 test kits will be boosted to about 2,000 after a relief flight from Britain arrives on Monday, it was revealed last night.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, added that a new laboratory enhanced with extra equipment also carried on the British Airways charter flight would operate under geneticist Carika Weldon, a researcher at the Oxford Genomics Centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals,
Ms Wilson said that the “generosity” of pharmaceutical firm Roche meant that the island would get two more testing machines with the laptop systems needed to run them.
Ms Wilson said: “This will heavily ramp up our testing programme as we will be looking to add to our current testing capabilities to offer more widespread testing and screening of our population to combat this viral outbreak of Covid-19.
“With the additional testing supplies ... we will be able to test approximately 2,000 more persons.
“An additional testing centre will also be set up and validated to World Health Organisation guidelines and this is not only to assist the national diagnostic efforts of diagnosing the Covid-19 and doing the testing, but this is also a great opportunity to expose our Bermudian university students who are already educated in this field and have the previous laboratory experience so that they will be able to emerge in this field of work.
“We are really excited because this new laboratory will be under the direction of our own Dr Carika Weldon.”
Ms Wilson added that people with chronic illnesses should take extra care of their health.
She said that the health department clinic in Hamilton was open for appointments only. The latest figures showed that 272 people have been tested for the virus, with 35 confirmed cases and 33 results awaited.
David Burt, the Premier, said that no new test results came back yesterday.
He added that 14 people who came down with Covid-19 had recovered and four active cases were stable in hospital.
Mr Burt said later that five of the 11 cases who contracted the virus on the island had done so through household contact and the other six became infected in their workplaces.
John Rankin, the Governor, said that Covid-19 test packs with a capacity for more than 1,800 tests would be on the BA flight, which will also bring Bermudian residents stranded in Britain back home.
He added that personal protection equipment for medical and other staff would also be part of the cargo and that the cost was met by the Foreign Office.
Mr Rankin said: “A consignment of non-Covid-19 related pharmaceuticals and essential medicines, which Bermuda has ordered, is also expected to be part of the flight cargo load.
“I know that there will be more to do and at this difficult time we must all play our part to assist as best we can.”
Mr Rankin added: “While we face many challenges, I continue to support the Government and the people of Bermuda in all their continuing efforts and I pledge all that I can do to help to find a way through.”
Mr Burt admitted that the 14-day shelter-at-home restrictions now in force would be “difficult for many of us”.
He warned residents that life would change “dramatically” from today after the regulations kicked in.
Mr Burt said: “The declaration of a state of emergency, the first in over 40 years, and the institution of a shelter-in-place order for 14 days from 6am ... represents a new and necessary level in our collective war to protect the health and safety of our community.”
He told the country: “Each of us now has a choice, we can take these days and be selfish, disregard the laws in place to protect all of us and place yourself and others in jeopardy.
“We can take these 14 days to engage in unhealthy behaviour or binge-watch Netflix.
“If we make any of these choices, we will still emerge no better, no stronger and no wiser than when we began the shelter in place order.
“Instead, let us choose to do what we can and all support each other to use this time in a positive and productive manner.”
Mr Burt added: “I encourage each of you to use these 14 days wisely.
“If all of us see this as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to evolve and to strengthen, we will be better positioned as a people for a post Covid-19 world.
He advised: “Take advantage of the internet’s resources, learn a new skill, train, work, grow.”
Cherita Raynor, a Bermuda Hospitals Board psychologist, said people stuck at home could be more vulnerable to anxiety, stress and depression.
Dr Raynor added: “To protect our community, we need to be more aware.”
Mr Burt praised Sheila Tyrrell, a seamstress who offered her services to the Government and started “an open community initiative” to create homemade face masks from cotton products.
He told residents to sign up to a WhatsApp account set up to give government updates by sending “hi” to 504-6045 and adding the number to their phone contacts.
Mr Burt thanked insurance giant Chubb for its pledge of $52,000 to the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust to buy extra resources, including electric Renault Twizy minicars for essential staff.
Professional services firm PwC also gave $50,000 to the Bermuda Community Foundation emergency fund and donated surplus laptops to the Bermuda public school system.
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