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More staff for Covid contact tracing

Bermuda recorded 20 new cases of Coronavirus on December 21. The number of active cases is 251 and five people are in hospital.

The number of coronavirus tracking officers is to be increased, the Government said yesterday.

The move came after reports of people being exposed to the coronavirus – but not being alerted until days later.

The island recorded a further 20 cases yesterday from a batch of 3,008 tests taken over the weekend.

Bermuda now has 251 active cases, with 83 under investigation.

Five people are in hospital, with one in intensive care.

The Government beefed up test resources across the island earlier this month with the aim of testing at least 1,000 people a day.

The figure has been surpassed – but has also resulted in more cases being recorded and a heavier workload for contact tracing officers.

The Royal Gazette understands that one person who later tested positive for the virus went to a business in Hamilton before they got their result back.

But the business was not warned about the potential exposure until 13 days later.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health confirmed that more staff were being trained in contact tracing procedures.

She said: “Further human resources have been made available with even more individuals currently undergoing contact tracing training.”

The health department said they were keen to get in touch with anyone who may be linked to infections, adding that there were reasons for delays in notification of potential exposure.

She said: “Close contacts are contacted and advised based on when the case is lab-confirmed and also after an assessment is completed regarding the type of contact they are as well as other factors.

On occasion, this occurs some time after the close contact occurred.

“For example, a positive case may have not attributed their mild symptoms experienced before the positive diagnosis to Covid-19 and thus a close contact may have occurred some time before the actual diagnosis."

Three of the positive results announced last Sunday came in on a recent British Airways flight.

Bermuda said it would keep its borders open to travellers from the UK, despite fears that London is at the centre of a new strain of the coronavirus.

More than 40 countries have banned travellers from the UK from after the discovery of the new strain, which is feared to be more contagious than the original virus.

Parts of London and south-east England went into lockdown at the weekend because of a spike in cases.

That move was followed by several European countries calling for a blockade on all transport leaving the UK.

Scores of countries, including Australia and Hong Kong, have now put the UK on the stop list.

But British Airways flights from London’s Gatwick airport have been given the green light to continue to land in Bermuda.

The next scheduled flight out of Gatwick is today, with eight more flights set to take off in the next two weeks.

Bermudians living in lockdown areas of London and the south-east of England can still travel over the holiday season, despite a general ban on travel.

A Government spokeswoman yesterday appealed to Bermudians in the UK to stick to the UK restrictions.

But she added that overseas travel was still permitted for anyone living in a Tier 4 lockdown zone – as long as the trip could be justified.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said: "I wish to remind all travellers that they are subject to restrictions on their movements and activities until they receive a negative Day 14 Covid-19 test result.

“In particular, returning students should be careful of mixing with local students and family members while on island, prior to their negative Day 14 test result.

“Similarly, those travelling for business should take the necessary precautions when returning and interacting with family and friends."

Bermuda has recorded a total of 547 coronavirus cases.

There are 251 active cases, with 246 monitored by public health officials.

A total of 287 people have recovered and the death toll remains at nine.

The seven-day average of the real time reproduction number has dropped to 0.87 and Bermuda’s current country status remains at “clusters of cases”.

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Published December 22, 2020 at 9:06 am (Updated December 22, 2020 at 10:14 am)

More staff for Covid contact tracing

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