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Covid-19 costs approaching $6m

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The cost of Covid-19 pandemic protection has hit close to $6 million up to this month, MPs heard yesterday.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said the bulk of the cash, $5.3 million, was spent on personal protective equipment and coronavirus tests.

She added the equipment and tests had been key to Bermuda's success in containment of the pandemic.

Ms Wilson said Helix Labs, led by Desiree Spriggs, had launched a test regime of up to 190 tests a day that was “up and running in record time”.

The Helix contract, worth $481,000, was ended on June 14 after testing became more widespread and cost effective.

The Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, headed by Oxford University Hospitals scientist Carika Weldon, took over testing after that.

Investments included a $154,000 machine to conduct polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests and the MDL in St David's now averaged 500 tests a day.

Equipment and chemical reagents for testing were bought for $386,000.

Ms Wilson said the health ministry had joined forces with the Bermuda Hospitals Board in the early stages of the pandemic to secure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment.

She said the partnership also cut the risk of the ministry becoming involved with “fake vendors”.

Ms Wilson added it had been a “colossal task” as borders closed around the world and exports of PPE were curtailed by the United States — including a Bermuda-bound container that was detained, but later released.

An order of masks en route to the country was also delayed by Chinese authorities.

Large orders included 610,000 surgical masks, 500,000 high protection N95 masks, 30,000 face shields, 100,000 swabs, 500,000 pairs of gloves, 5,000 digital thermometers and 480 infrared thermometers.

Ms Wilson said the island has a ten to 12-month supply of PPE to meet an anticipated second wave of the pandemic.

The estimated cost of PPE was $4.3 million.

To read Kim Wilson's statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

On the case: Bermudian forensic scientist Desiree Spriggs (Photograph supplied)
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph)

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Published July 25, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated July 25, 2020 at 9:12 am)

Covid-19 costs approaching $6m

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