Fifth Covid-19 death recorded
More than 50 people linked to a care home were being tested for Covid-19 yesterday after the death of a senior who lived there.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said last night the test results were expected “within the next 24 to 48 hours”.
She was speaking after the elderly man, understood to have been in the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire and who died in the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, became the fifth fatality from the disease.
Ms Wilson said tests had already confirmed the spread of the virus at the residential home, which she said was the second of its type to record a Covid-19 infection in a staff member.
An Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit spokeswoman repeatedly refused to identify the other care home affected by the virus. Ms Wilson said no test results had come back yesterday, but that about 39 were “being processed as we speak”.
She added: “Sadly, another individual has passed away, on this occasion a senior, who had been hospitalised.”
She offered condolences to the family and told them: “The entire team at the Ministry of Health grieves for your loss.”
The island's total number of recorded cases remained at 57, with 30 recovered, six in hospital — three in intensive care — and 16 others subject to public health monitoring. The ages of the infected ranged from 18 to 86 and those hospitalised were between 67 and 78.
A total of 31 men have been infected and 26 women.
Ms Wilson said it had been “recommended” in March that staff in seniors' homes should not work at other care of the elderly sites. She added: “It was hoped that would be done on a voluntary basis. We see that has not necessarily been the case.”
She said some homes had followed the advice. Ms Wilson added that legal changes to ban staff from work in more than one care home would be “approved and gazetted very soon”.
She said the Bermuda Health Council would draw up a list of substitute workers to help cover staff shortages caused by the change in legislation.
Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, said the global shortage of testing resources for the virus had caused “a struggle here in Bermuda as well”.
She added healthcare workers in high-risk positions would “ideally” all be tested, but that the island was limited by the number of test kits it could acquire.
Dr Peek-Ball added: “If there were an abundance of supplies in unlimited amounts, indeed there would be very broad testing.
“We look to the day when that would occur — hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Ms Wilson said visitors had been banned at seniors' homes, which were also being monitored and disinfected. She added there had been “extraordinary efforts” to keep the virus out of care homes since January.
Ms Wilson said that staff without symptoms had been given masks since last month and their temperatures were checked on arrival at work.
She added care home residents had their temperatures, blood pressure, pulse and general health assessed every day.
Ms Wilson said supplies for care homes, including for meals, were being sourced for the next few months and efforts were being made to fill positions left vacant because staff were unable to work or in quarantine.
She added: “Many of these precautions we have seen adapted worldwide, but have proved to be no match for complete protection against Covid-19.
“However, we must not lose heart. We must remind ourselves that the picture would look alarmingly different, if we did not take these protective measures.”
Ms Wilson said details of precautions designed to protect more members of the public at risk would be revealed today.
David Burt, the Premier, also offered condolences to families who had lost relatives to the disease.
Mr Burt said statistics had shown there were some people, although they had no symptoms, who carried the virus.
He added: “That is why it is important for all of us to cover our faces when we go out in public.
“This, unfortunately, is the norm in many countries around the world, and will soon become our new normal as we work to make sure that we continue to combat this virus.”
Mr Burt said surgical and high-protection N95 masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, but he told the public: “Wear any covering that you can”.
He added that Cabinet would meet today to change its policies so that people ordered into quarantine would have to pay for their accommodation and food.
Mr Burt appealed for the country to “remain calm, remain disciplined, and most of all remain united”, as the island fought to contain the spread of the pandemic.