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People’s Pharmacy defends record on testing

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A pharmacy owner claimed her company had been “wrongly maligned” after a staff member received a seemingly false positive result from a Covid-19 test.

Tamara Richardson also questioned yesterday how the People's Pharmacy employee was required to take six tests to confirm they were free of the virus.

The Hamilton pharmacy and store was forced to dismiss claims, spread on social media on Saturday, that the staff member had breached health regulations by returning to work too early.

The employee had gone back to work after receiving two negative test results, but then received a positive result from their third test, prompting the employee and colleagues to go into quarantine.

It has emerged that the individual had now taken a total of five tests, and been found to be negative. They were awaiting the result of a sixth test yesterday.

Ms Richardson, the vice-president of the People's Group of Companies, said yesterday: “People's Pharmacy and our employee received confirmation today, from a fifth test administered by the Government testing lab, that the employee was indeed negative for Covid-19.”

Ms Richardson added: “This negative test result is now being tested a sixth time at their request, and we will honour that process, before allowing any of the employees back to work who are under mandated quarantine, as a result of this unfortunate set of events.

“This entire process brings to light the concerns we as a community, should have for privacy around health results, responsibility and duty of care for ourselves during this pandemic, and the absolute danger that can result from rumours and fear, being the paradigm in which we operate.”

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said last week that a returning resident had broken regulations, by visiting their place of work, before receiving their positive test result, sparking a contact-tracing exercise from the Government.

Police confirmed yesterday that an inquiry into the matter was launched.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman said on Saturday night: “There is speculation that the person who broke quarantine on Wednesday, that was mentioned at Thursday's press conference, was an employee of People's Pharmacy.”

The spokeswoman added: “That is not true and we would ask persons to refrain from damaging speculation.”

Ms Richardson said: “As a company, we will always go one step above excellence when it comes to the health and safety of our People's family.”

She added: “Today, that one step above excellence means getting clarity around how one Bermudian can require a total of six tests, just to confirm they are Covid-free.”

Ms Richardson said People's Pharmacy would review its operating processes to understand “how we can ensure this never occurs again to a member of our team”.

She added: “It is most unfortunate that, out of the more than 100 positive cases, People's Pharmacy is the only company to have ever been identified or linked with a case.

“As a community, that should give you pause, and I urge you to act as though every place you enter, and every person you greet, could be positive.

“In doing so, you will likely not feel the angst you felt when our company was so wrongly maligned, based on false rumours, false accusations and what so far, is proving to be false test results.”

Responding to Ms Richardson's comments, the ministry spokeswoman said: “The ministry cannot speak to the origins of information leaked or unofficially shared.

“Furthermore, the ministry wouldn't discuss individual patient results with third parties and the allegations of privacy breaches are completely unfounded.

“Overall, the Government has effectively dealt with the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic by being extra cautious to ensure that we minimise the risk to the community, we will continue with that cautious approach. The ministry will continue to assess and review its current testing regime and modify if necessary, however the public should be reminded that Bermuda has the most stringent testing regime for arriving passengers, which requires pre-departure tests for visitors and tests on arrival, day 4, 8, and 14.

“Any person arriving in Bermuda will be subjected to multiple tests to minimise the risk to the community.”

People's said it had conducted business “in the safest manner possible” throughout the pandemic.

A spokeswoman said: “Using the best available methods, the entire store is deep cleaned after any reported contact-tracing links positive cases to People's Pharmacy.”

She added: “Despite government mandates, which only require a negative arrival test to be removed from quarantine, People's will now ensure all returning staff members have a full 14-day period of proven negative results.”

Anyone concerned that they may have had an exposure to Covid-19 should monitor their health and be alert to any symptoms.

People can visit pop-up testing locations across the island and anyone feeling unwell should telephone their doctor immediately.

The Bermuda Police Service confirmed yesterday that it “received information that an individual who returned to the island recently, went to their workplace before receiving the results of their Covid-19 test, which subsequently turned out to be positive”.

A spokesman added: “The BPS has now commenced an inquiry into this situation.”

Tamara Richardson (File photograph)
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 20, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 20, 2020 at 9:02 am)

People’s Pharmacy defends record on testing

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