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Covid-19 testing Q&A

David Burt said this evening that the Government expected to have on-island testing capability for the coronavirus later this week.

In a video address to Bermuda, the Premier said: “Covid-19 testing continues to be performed at the Caribbean Public Health Agency facility in Trinidad and the Government is investigating all options to increase the speed by which we can test and receive accurate results.

“Covid-19 testing kits have been ordered and a private jet is on standby to bring them to Bermuda as soon as they are ready to ship and we expect that we will have on-island testing capability later this week.”

Fourteen people had been tested for Covid-19 in Bermuda as of noon today (Monday), with eight negative results and six results pending.

Medics are testing only those who fall into one of these three categories, based on guidelines from the World Health Organisation:

1, A patient with acute respiratory illness — fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease such as a cough or shortness of breath — AND with no other aetiology (known cause) that fully explains the clinical presentation AND a history of travel to or residence in a country/area or territory reporting local transmission of Covid-19 disease during the 14 days before symptoms began

2, A patient with any acute respiratory illness AND having been in contact with a confirmed or probable Covid-19 case in the past 14 days before symptoms began

3, A patient with severe acute respiratory infection — fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease such as a cough or shortness breath — AND requiring hospitalisation AND with no other aetiology that fully explains the clinical presentation.

Health minister Kim Wilson has said Bermuda sent all Covid-19 tests to the Caribbean Public Health Agency to obtain “scientifically valid, true and reliable results” and that four to five days was the standard turnaround time to get a valid result.

We asked the Ministry of Health for some additional information on testing yesterday and these were the responses:

The Royal Gazette: Has the criteria for deciding who should be tested changed since March 5 or does it remain the same?

Ministry of Health: The testing criteria remains the same — it is guided by the World Health Organisation and will be updated if and when that guidance is updated.

RG: Has anyone here been refused a test for Covid-19?

MoH: Testing is provided based on the persons meeting the case criteria, as provided previously. If persons do not meet the criteria, they will not be tested.

RG: The Premier said on Friday there would be no wide-scale testing on the island for a few weeks because of a global shortage of the equipment. Does that mean testing is being limited because there are no test kits on island and samples have to be sent away?

MoH: See above answer.

RG: If Bermuda has been able to test 14 people so far, why can't it implement wide-scale testing by sending more samples away to be tested, in order to get a better sense of the community spread (if any)?

MoH: See above answer.

RG: Is there any updated ETA for the test kits arriving here?

MoH: We will advise when testing is available locally.

RG: If patients here test positive for flu, are they not being tested for coronavirus on the basis that their symptoms are explained by the positive flu result?

MoH: Anyone tested is tested for both simultaneously; flu results are obtained locally.

RG: The health minister says the Government is enhancing surveillance and lab testing to detect cases of Covid-19. What have the enhancements been?

MoH: Self-monitoring, enhanced collaboration with physicians, self-quarantine, and public health monitoring as required.

For up-to-date information from the Government, visit gov.bm/coronavirus

UPDATE: This article has been edited to include comments made by David Burt, the Premier, in an address to the country this evening.

Health minister Kim Wilson speaks at a press conference about the coronavirus (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 16, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 17, 2020 at 1:04 am)

Covid-19 testing Q&A

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