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Covid-19: two new cases, total at 83

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Two new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Bermuda, the health minister revealed last night.

Kim Wilson said that 35 test results had returned with 33 in the clear. The island's total infections from the novel coronavirus now stands at 83.

Ms Wilson said one of the new cases was under investigation and the second was a cruise ship passenger who returned home on an April 8 charter flight from the United States.

She defended the island's travel freeze, which she said had stopped the inflow of visitors from high-risk jurisdictions “very, very early”.

David Burt, the Premier, said there had been some “early pushback on the restrictions which we put in place”.

He added: “There was some representation from countries added to the list saying they did not deserve to be there.”

Ms Wilson said there had been no more hospital admissions or deaths from Covid-19 and that 35 people had now recovered.

She added that there were 43 active cases and that nine of them, all people aged between 67 and 82, were in hospital. Five people have died so far from Covid-19.

The island's biggest spread of cases has been concentrated in the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire.

Ms Wilson insisted she was right not to name the second nursing home, which had a Covid-19 case in a staff member.

She said: “Because it doesn't necessarily represent a public health risk, there's no need to identify the individual.”

Ms Wilson added that “economic considerations” had played a part in a decision to allow staff to continue to work in different homes.

Ms Wilson said care home regulations had “now been amended to prohibit staff from working at multiple facilities when the Chief Medical Officer determines there is a risk of spreading a communicable disease”.

She added: “We are fully conscious of the challenges associated with this measure, but it is necessary right now to save lives.”

Mr Burt said that Parliament would for the first time hold a virtual session today.

He warned that shelter-in-place restrictions would end on May 2, but a need for “some form of restrictions” would continue as modelling had predicted a need for “strict social-distancing for the foreseeable future”.

Mr Burt added: “In other countries, they do not need to declare a state of emergency to restrict movement during a public health crisis, but in Bermuda, this is the only way to do so.”

The island's health modelling is likely to be made public on Monday.

Mr Burt said his Cabinet had asked for legal amendments to allow “any government in the future to implement appropriate measures, in the case of a future public health emergency, such as the one we're experiencing right now, without the need to have to declare a state of emergency”.

He added that changes to the regulations for the next two-week lockdown period, which will start on Saturday, were yet to be finalised.

But he signalled that there would be “limited allowances” for hardware stores, plant nurseries and pet shops to operate.

Mr Burt said relaxations of restrictions would be decided based on the hospital's “critical care capacity”.

He added the crisis was “an opportunity to remake and transform Bermuda” and end “political tribalism” in the island.

Mr Burt said the Government was drafting guidelines to “enhance the use, or expand the use, of Bermuda's taxis to help enhance delivery services”.

He added: “Many of our taxi drivers have subscribed to the unemployment benefit, as clearly, there is a minimal amount of movement that's allowed by taxi drivers and this is a move to allow some economic activity for those taxi drivers.”

The Premier also thanked reinsurance firm Athene which, with the help of Athora Holdings, Aspen Insurance Holdings and Catalina Holdings, had donated funds for eight new ventilators for the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said schools would remain closed “until further notice”.

He added that remote-learning programmes will restart on Monday.

Mr Rabain said that there had been a delay in notification of parents about school registrations for the new school year in the autumn and that it would be carried out electronically.

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, added there had been 11,165 traffic stops carried out over the previous 24 hours.

He said 53 people were told to return home and there had been one attempt to evade a checkpoint.

Mr Caines added the island's alphabetic shopping schedule, based on surnames, would be revised today and a third category designed to cut down on queues would be introduced.

To view the full statements from the Premier, the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Education, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White
David Burt, the Premier, delivers updates on Covid-19 (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published April 17, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 17, 2020 at 4:48 pm)

Covid-19: two new cases, total at 83

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