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Third US arrival tests positive for virus

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A third air arrival from the US who flew in this week has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Government said yesterday.

The Ministry of Health added that the case, a visitor to the island, was the only positive among 220 test results that came back yesterday and was brought to the island on the Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta on Tuesday.

Two people — both residents — were found to have the virus during arrival tests on passengers from the same service and route on Monday.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said that people on the flights with coronavirus cases had been ordered to take strict precautions.

She added: “All passengers received e-mail communication from the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit explaining their next steps, which are to quarantine — as they were instructed at the airport — depending on their testing status, wear a mask and practise physical-distancing, and monitor and report their symptoms as instructed.

“Any passengers needing to quarantine beyond the standard prescribed for them will be contacted by public health officials — for example, if they were a close contact of an individual who tested positive on a flight.

“In that case, they will be informed of the particulars of their quarantine requirements.

Ms Wilson said that all air arrivals “must monitor their health for 14 days, if applicable for length of stay, and take their temperature twice daily and record their symptoms on a symptom log provided”.

She added: “Also, they should limit their exposure to others in the community, as much as practicable, for 14 days.”

Bermuda has had a total 149 total confirmed cases and 137 people have recovered.

Three people were under public health monitoring, but none were in hospital.

Nine people with Covid-10 have died.

Ms Wilson said that information on quarantine requirements for arrivals was available in the “travel” section of the coronavirus.gov.bm website.

A woman who started a petition to delay the reintroduction of commercial air travel from the United States said she was not surprised by the two positive test results after the first flight from the US since March.Almost 2,200 people supported her appeal to David Burt, the Premier, to hold off until there was a downward trend in US cases.

The woman, who launched the Change.org petition under the name Keep Bermuda Safe, said: “Honestly, I knew it would happen, so I didn't have some huge shock moment or anything.

“It was disappointing that this was something that I at least tried to maybe get them to think about for a little longer and now before our eyes people are here with the virus.”

She added that she understood the need to kick-start the economy and could “see both sides”.

But she said: “At the end of the day, if more Bermudians were to start dying or if it were really to pick up and spread and we have to go back to Phase 1 that would kill all businesses.

“It wouldn't just be the tourism sector any more, so I just wanted to bear that in mind as well — not just the safety but even from a financial perspective it could end up being worse off in the long term.”

Adult visitors to Bermuda must be tested upon arrival as well as on days three, seven and 14 of their stay.

Residents can opt not to test before they returned to the island or on arrival, but in those circumstances are required to quarantine for 14 days and either be tested then or quarantined for another 14 days.

The petition organiser warned: “I think it all looks great on paper but in real life I don't think anything works as seamlessly maybe as we plan it to.”

The Ministry of Health admitted yesterday that not all of the passengers on an Air Canada flight from Toronto last Thursday were tested on day three of their stay as planned.

A spokeswoman said: “Some were tested on Saturday, Sunday and a number of them were tested on Monday.

“Accessibility and rain contributed to this — however, from a public health perspective the one-day difference does not increase risk.”

It was revealed last Thursday that one of the passengers on the Canadian flight headed straight to a restaurant — in breach of a rule that passengers must quarantine themselves until they get a clear result from the mandatory airport test.

The Royal Gazette asked for clarification yesterday on how many people from the Monday Delta flight were told to quarantine, and for how long, after the two cases were confirmed.

The ministry said that all arriving passengers were quarantined until they got a clear arrival test — if they had a negative pre-departure test — or they got a clear arrival and day-three test results, if there was no pre-departure test.

Anyone who needed to quarantine for longer would be notified by public health officials.

A spokeswoman said: “All travellers will have varying instructions, dependent on that person's testing schedule, their results and if they are determined to be a close contact of a positive individual.”

The ministry added that electronic bracelets to monitor quarantined people had not been used on the Delta passengers.

The spokeswoman said: “Not yet, as the focus has been on contacting them and clinical care, but bracelets will be fitted.

“We have done significant testing and continue to improve software supporting the monitoring bracelets.”

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier and home affairs minister, insisted the July 1 airport reopening was not too early.

He said: “Based on the plan to safely reopen our economy — this is the right time to welcome commercial flights back to Bermuda.

“The Ministry of Health has worked tirelessly to put in place testing and arrival protocols for everyone who arrives in Bermuda. The testing protocols are among the toughest in the world.”

He added: “The confirmed cases of Covid-19 were identified as part of Bermuda's rigorous testing process and they are now isolated.

“As we move through Phase 4, our new normal, we will continue to examine the testing protocols and they will be adjusted as needed.”

On the case: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White

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Published July 09, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 09, 2020 at 3:32 pm)

Third US arrival tests positive for virus

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