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Ambiguity over Covid-19 reproductive rate

Public health experts have still to calculate the reproductive rate of Covid-19 on the island, the Minister of Health has said.

Kim Wilson was asked by The Royal Gazette if she could share the R0, or R-nought, a value that represents the number of new infections estimated to come from a single case, for the novel coronavirus in Bermuda.

The health minister said: “No. That's part of what they are doing right now is trying to calculate that and ... more ‘Bermudianise' it. But they are providing more input and data as we speak.”

Ms Wilson had earlier told Wednesday's government press conference that the Ministry of Health was in the process of updating the modelling estimates for the virus.

She said that “once that has been done and completed ... it will be released publicly”.

The R0 for Covid-19 globally has been estimated by the World Health Organisation to be between 1.4 to 2.5. That means that if the R0 is 1.4, then an individual with the disease would be expected to infect 1.4 other people on average.

Countries worldwide are aiming to get their number below 1, which means the number of infections would fall over time, so they can reopen their economies.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman told the newspaper on Tuesday: “The work has been done on this, but is currently being reviewed with the intention to release the information shortly. Preliminary information indicates that the current reproductive number is near 1.”

The spokeswoman said she could not say if the number was above or below 1, but the information would be released to the public shortly.

Michael Ashton, the Bermuda Hospitals Board's chief of medicine and an infectious diseases specialist, said in a social-media video last month of Covid-19: “We consider this to be more contagious than influenza and that's based on some of the R0 estimates.”

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published May 08, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 08, 2020 at 9:03 am)

Ambiguity over Covid-19 reproductive rate

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