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Suppression measures working, says Wilson

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A single case of Covid-19 was recorded out of 636 test results received between Tuesday and yesterday.

The solitary diagnosis brought the island's total number of cases to 111. Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said last night that a total of more than 2,000 tests for the coronavirus had been completed.

She said that the figures provided “confidence that our status remains at ‘local transmission' with clusters of cases”.

Ms Wilson added: “We do not have widespread community transmission, which must give us all relief. Our suppression measures are working.”

The Government's coronavirus webpage showed that local transmission was defined as “cases acquired within Bermuda”.

David Burt, the Premier, said last month that community transmission was when experts were unable to connect confirmed infections of Covid-19 to a large number of new cases.

Ms Wilson explained yesterday that there were 57 active cases with 43 of them under public health monitoring and 48 people had recovered. A total of 14 people are being treated in hospital. Ms Wilson said: “Our total deceased remains at six.”

She added: “As of today, we have tested 118 care home residents and 149 staff members from five different care homes.

“Of these, 226 have come back negative and 41 positive. Of the total number of positive tests at care homes 22 were asymptomatic individuals.”

Ms Wilson added that residents and staff of the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire — where an outbreak of the virus earlier led to 27 cases linked to the home — had been retested.

She said: “We needed to retest all patients and staff in order to determine if anyone had transitioned to positive and how to appropriately staff the home in light of staff and residents' Covid-19 status.”

Ms Wilson warned: “As we enter our phased reopening, all of us will have to continue stringent physical-distancing measures to avoid returning to a shelter-in-place scenario.

“Please remember, as soon as the rate of transmission goes up or hospitalisations start to increase, restrictions will be needed again.

“So everyone's adherence to physical-distancing requirements will be fundamental for our survival.”

She said there was “not a magic number” of infections that would signal a return to shelter-in-place restrictions. Ms Wilson added: “It's an issue of hospitalisations ... we don't want to adversely impact our medical system.”

She explained that five admissions a day would be the point when the hospital “could potentially break”.

Ms Wilson said: “If we saw a spike in cases, if we started to see sustained community transmission in areas ... that would be trigger points for us to then, again, turn on the valve of suppression and start having to have more suppression measures, as opposed to the mitigation measures.”

She added that despite the lifting of shelter-in-place restrictions at 6am on Saturday there were vulnerable people “for whom it is still not safe for them to leave their homes”.

They included people having cancer treatment, those who have had organ transplants, people with severe respiratory conditions, pregnant women and persons who are severely obese.

Ms Wilson said: “My staff have reported that our new non-contact thermometers, which arrived last week, have been excellent and are much quicker than the ones we were previously using.

“As we expand on testing to support the island getting back to work, Helix lab and the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory are in the process of implementing antibody testing which will be online shortly.”

Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer, said later that there remained “quite a lot of ... scientific dispute” about how antibody testing would be used.

She explained: “There is a fair amount of agreement that it does not have a role immediately for outbreak control, in that it does not necessarily indicate who is actively still infectious and who has clear immunity to a disease, so that the value of it is not clear, at the moment.”

Dr Peek-Ball added that, in time, it was thought antibody testing will help to show parts of the community who are not susceptible to Covid-19 as well as how many people have had the disease.

She said: “The antibody testing is really more, at this point, in my view, a research tool which will ultimately be valuable.”

To view the health minister's statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

Setting an example: John Rankin, the Governor, sat down for a Covid-19 nasal passage test by Kyjuan Brown, a general practitioner, at the St David's testing facility (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Setting an example: John Rankin, the Governor, sat down for a Covid-19 nasal passage test by Kyjuan Brown, a general practitioner, yesterday at the new Southside, St David's, testing facility (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Minister of National Security Wayne Caines goes under the swab at Southside yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, reveals one new case of Covid-19 infection yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Guiding hand: Cheryl Peek-Ball, the Chief Medical Officer

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Published April 30, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 30, 2020 at 8:01 am)

Suppression measures working, says Wilson

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