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Virus runs through seniors home

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Graphic by Christina White

Two residents and two members of staff at a care home have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Covid-19.Health minister Kim Wilson announced the news about the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence yesterday. Ms Wilson revealed the total confirmed cases in Bermuda had climbed from 50 to 57.The Royal Gazette reported on Thursday how a 66-year-old resident from the care home was in critical condition in hospital with Covid-19.Ms Wilson said last night: “Regrettably, I must inform the public of some disappointing news which I learnt of this afternoon.”She said lab results confirmed cases at the Devonshire home, as well as the spread of the virus within the facility.Ms Wilson said an investigation was under way, with all residents and staff to undergo coronavirus testing.The 66-year-old resident had been admitted to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital last Monday, after developing a fever and cough the previous day at the home.The man’s hospital treatment included oxygen to help him breathe.Over the weekend, the ministry announced that Residential Care and Nursing Homes Regulations would be amended to ban care home staff from working at multiple sites.Ms Wilson explained that the new results “underscores the importance of our decision”, where there was risk of disease transfer by “unknowing staff members”.David Burt, the Premier, told The Royal Gazette last Thursday he had been informed of “possible cases at nursing homes” and had ordered testing for all residents and staff in affected homes. The Gazette has asked the Government how many other care homes have confirmed cases of Covid-19.Ms Wilson said measures at Matilda Smith Williams, imposed before yesterday’s news, included a ban on visitors, increased emphasis on infection prevention and control of hygiene practices, enhanced daily monitoring of staff and residents’ health, isolation of any symptomatic individuals, and exclusion from work of any staff with symptoms consistent with Covid-19.Enhanced cleaning and disinfection was also under way. The Ministry of Health received 14 new Covid-19 test results yesterday.Seven were negative, and seven were positive. Of the island’s 57 cases, 29 have now recovered, eight are in hospital, including three in ICU, and 16 are under active public health monitoring without requiring hospital treatment.The age of people in hospital ranges between 62 and 78, and the average age is 70.The average age of all confirmed positive cases is 52. The age range of positive cases is from 18 to 86.Out of the positive cases, 31 are men, and 26 are women.Ms Wilson said: “The country’s testing capacity will continue to prioritise rest homes and other high risk persons.”She said a “thorough deep cleaning of several of our long-term care facilities” began on Saturday.Ms Wilson appealed to the public not to publicise sensitive information about seniors in care homes.She said “sensitive information” about the Covid-19 status of elder residents had been circulated, calling the move “really disheartening”.She added: “Their health condition is confidential.“Our elders, though they may be our family, have rights, too. These rights are to be respected.”Ms Wilson said the Bermuda Community Foundation had donated computer tablets to care homes, to allow remote monitoring of compliance and reduce foot traffic.Ms Wilson added: “Care home administrators underwent Covid-19 preparedness training in early March, to ensure that prevention measures were being taken to stop respiratory germs from entering the facilities and from spreading within the facilities.”She said care homes had followed strict Covid-19 rules two months before Bermuda had its first case and staff had met regularly with health officials.

Minister of Health Kim Wilson (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)