Covid-19 testing for athletes young and older explained
With the return to competitive sports just weeks away, the Government is now requiring young people aged 11 to 17, as well as adult athletes, to be tested.
David Burt, the Premier, announced in a press conference this week that the Return to Play guidance is now in stage 3 with saliva Covid testing starting this week.
On Thursday, Ernest Peets, the sports minister, recommended that young people also be tested prior to stage four which will see the return to competitive sport after almost three months.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of Bermudian life – sporting, cultural and entertainment events have been likewise severely impacted,“ Peets said in a statement.
“Understanding the importance of sport, the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation collaborated with the Association of National Sports Governing Bodies to develop the Return to Play guidance in order for sports to resume in a phased manner, through four stages.
"Contact sports bring a higher risk of Covid-19 transmission, therefore the Government requires adults wishing to participate in stage three and four sports [contact sports training and competitive play] to undertake a saliva Covid-19 test and repeat every 28 to 30 days.“
Peets said the tests will also be required of children between the ages of 11 and 17, even younger, as he urged the sporting community not to become complacent at a time when good progress is being made.
"While originally testing was required for adults and children aged 11 to 17, following consultation, the Government has revised the position for children,“ the minister said.
“As of [Friday], we strongly recommend that young persons and children aged 11 to 17 be tested. Individual clubs and NSGBs may determine whether to require it. Children aged 10 and younger can be encouraged to test also.
"The ministry takes this opportunity to remind the sporting community that controlling Covid-19 spread is an ongoing effort. As a country, we cannot let our guard down. Testing provides an additional layer of protection for individuals and for the community.“
Peets added: "The purpose of the sports Covid-19 screening test is to identify persons who are infected with the [Sars-CoV-2] virus in Bermuda to ensure proper isolation and case management.
“A negative test offers greater security for all players and gives peace of mind to those playing contact sports that they are operating in a safer environment.
“The saliva test is a non-invasive test that is easy to self-administer. There are no health risks associated with the test, and it is provided free of charge by the Government of Bermuda.
"Athletes must register to take the test so their kit can be prepared and they can receive their test results. A video link and written instructions will be provided to demonstrate how to use kit.“
Peets emphasised that there remains confidentiality in the testing of athletes.
"The ministry wishes to assure the public that test results are fully confidential,“ he said. ”Only the patient, the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and Ministry of Health authorised officers will know the results.
“In the event of a positive test result, the patient’s physician will also be informed. If a sample is positive, the patient’s physician or the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit will be in touch with the patient to communicate the result and provide guidance on isolation, management and testing.
"Once registered, communication on how and when each sport will test will be provided through collaboration between the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, national sports governing bodies, and clubs and teams.
"However, sufficient registration is required in order to book a testing date. So athletes are encouraged to register at the earliest opportunity so a test date can be set up.“
Peets added: "The ministry encourages all athletes and the parents or guardians of young athletes to be familiar with the Return to Sport guidance and the testing recommendations and requirements.
“These have been sent to all NSGBs so they can be provided to clubs and athletes. They are also on gov.bm website so the public can access them directly.
"Bermuda has come a very long way in controlling Covid-19 to save lives and minimise the impact to our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the public and the sporting sector for their patience, collaboration and willingness to do the right thing for sport and for the country."
• Athletes must register for a test at https://workers.resqwest.com/web/