Order of Business
Better-case’ scenario is 263 deaths
A total of 263 deaths was predicted yesterday in a “better-case” scenario of the possible impact of Covid-19.
David Burt, the Premier, explained that a pandemic model for Bermuda highlighted a comparison between the worst-case scenario and a “better-case” scenario.
Mr Burt warned: “In other words, there is no best-case scenario.”
He said the worst-case scenario, based on no preventive measures or social-distancing, suggested that Bermuda could have more than 700 deaths, with a peak in early June.
Mr Burt said the second scenario, based on “effective interventions” similar to those imposed by the Government, predicted 263 deaths, with a peak in mid September.
He added: “Clearly, better is a relative term, because even doing what we are doing now, it will still mean tragedy for too many families.
“This is a global reality. Bermuda is not another world.”
Mr Burt was speaking as MPs approved a motion to extend shelter-in-place regulations until 6am on May 2 in the House of Assembly’s first virtual session.
The motion also extended the state of emergency until 6am on June 30.
Mr Burt admitted that Bermuda had “not been able to test as much as I would have liked to test at this point”. But he emphasised that he had “cautious optimism”.
Mr Burt said: “Next week we will have additional testing capacity with a custom-created laboratory at Southside.
“This lab will be staffed by passionate young Bermudians who have answered the call to help their country at this pinnacle time in our history and to give effect to the Government’s mandate of aggressive testing.”
Mr Burt said the harsh implications of Covid-19 were “pure and simple”.
He warned: “The reality of the situation is that we can only reduce the potential for tragedy in this community by strong intervention.”
Mr Burt said that public health advice suggested that the shelter-in-place rules should last 28 days for maximum effect — two 14-day periods of incubation for the virus.
He added: “Under our laws, the power of the Governor to make regulations under a state of emergency is the only mechanism that we currently have to continue to appropriately restrict the movement of people and take action necessary to mitigate the risk of community transmission.
“It is for this reason that we must extend the state of emergency until the end of June.”
Mr Burt said that he hoped to give details on what could lie ahead in the battle against the coronavirus “in the coming days”.
He added: “It is no exaggeration to say that the picture painted is sobering and, by any measure, tragic.
“The cold reality is that shutting down the island for these four weeks will not make the virus go away and it will not stop people from contracting the virus.”
Mr Burt said the Cabinet would ask John Rankin, the Governor, to issue a revised set of regulations before May 2.
He signalled that the new rules would likely end the 24-hour shelter-in-place rules, allow more businesses to open and create the opportunity for home deliveries and kerbside pickups for some services.
Mr Burt added that he would also discuss with the head of the civil service how to restart some government services.
He admitted the coronavirus crisis was “perhaps the most delicate balancing act” of the modern era of Government.
Mr Burt explained: “We must be mindful of the ongoing need to save lives while building a new foundation of this economy so that we can live again.
“This will not be easy and depends on more than leadership. We must have compassion, patience and understanding.
“We have to have continued collaboration and unity between political parties, the public and private sector and Bermudians and guest workers.”
Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, said that the One Bermuda Alliance “wholeheartedly” supported extending the shelter-in-place restrictions until May 2.
But he added that the OBA could not back an extension of the state of emergency until the end of June.
Mr Cannonier said: “We are not saying that this measure will, or may not, be needed — it most likely may be needed — just not this far in advance as we are still trying to get information pulled together.
“My concern is that we are still collecting data. My concern is we are still analysing data. My concern is that we are still trying to understand what we are dealing with.”
Mr Cannonier added that aggressive quarantining, testing and tracing was needed.
He said: “This is the way we are going to arrest this thing, this is the way that we will continue to see our numbers get better.”
Mr Cannonier added that Covid-19 did not discriminate.
He said: “It couldn’t care less what part of the island you come from, which ethnicity you belong to, what socio-economic category you believe you fit in.
“What is clear about this disease is that it is after our vulnerable — and that is a major concern of all of us.”
The motion was also passed in the Senate with the three OBA senators voting against.
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