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Covid-19: five new cases as vaccination gets under way

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There were five new cases of the coronavirus reported yesterday
Vaccination Centre: Kim Wilson, Minister of Health gets the Covid-19 vaccine on Monday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A total of five new cases of the coronavirus were reported last night – all among residents returned from the United States.

One case arrived last Wednesday on the Delta flight from Atlanta and tested positive on Day 4.

The rest tested positive on arrival last Sunday – two from New York aboard the JetBlue flight and two on the American Airlines flight from Miami.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that 2,688 people had registered yesterday to get the vaccine.

It is planned to vaccinate up to 200 people a day at a special vaccination centre at Prospect in Devonshire.

Ms Wilson added that talks were under way with Government House and Britain to get another shipment of doses at the end of this month.

She said the vaccine was “the hope we have all been looking for“ and welcomed the strong interest in the Pfizer jab.

Ms Wilson added rest home nurses were being trained to administer the vaccine to residents who wanted it.

She admitted that the Covid-19 hotline was overwhelmed on Monday and that more than 700 calls created a “bottleneck”.

But she said more staff and resources were available to take calls.

David Burt, the Premier, said the arrival of vaccines on Monday was “a significant milestone” for Bermuda.

He was speaking as it was announced the island has 91 active cases of Covid-19, with seven people in hospital and one in critical care.

Ms Wilson said the first batch of the vaccine was expected to be used up by the end of March.

But she added Government also hoped to receive a “small-scale first wave” of the vaccine from the Covax centre the same month.

The vaccine will be deployed in three phases in priority of need.

It will be available to anyone over 18 – and to people aged over 16 with parental consent – in phase three.

Heather Armstrong, the senior medical officer, said that reactions to the coronavirus jab had been limited so far to the sore arm normal in vaccinations.

Carika Weldon, the Government’s science adviser, explained how the Pfizer vaccine worked and that the technology dated back to 1990.

Dr Weldon said she got the vaccine on Monday and was pleased health staff were using retractable needles, which were safer than standard syringes.

She also outlined the development of the vaccine and highlighted that research had been under way on similar viruses for many years.

The jab’s messenger RNA gets the human body to copy a protein sequence from the outer spike of the virus, so that it can be targeted by the body’s immune system.

Dr Weldon also discussed the first genetic sequencing studies carried out on strains of the coronavirus present in Bermuda.

She said virus samples from a British Airways flight last October, which had ten infected passengers, had been sent to Public Health England, along with samples found on the island around the same time.

The study so far has found none of the contagious variation now in circulation in Britain.

More genetic sequencing will take place on samples from the outbreak in December, as well as other cases.

Dr Weldon said the duration of the protection provided by the vaccine was not yet known.

She added that masks and social distancing will remain in place in the meantime.

Dr Weldon said: “We have to, as a community, reach herd immunity before we consider changing those guidelines.”

Ms Wilson said it was aimed to get between 60 and 70 per cent of the island’s population vaccinated.

Ms Wilson appealed to people to register for a vaccine shot on the government website at forms.gov.bm/covidvaccine

Members of the public can also register by e-mail to vaccine@gov.bm with the subject: Registration Data.

E-mails must include, name, date of birth in day/month/year format, address, phone number, e-mail, occupation, GP’s name, any diagnosis and, if an essential worker, the employer’s name.

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Published January 13, 2021 at 7:45 am (Updated January 13, 2021 at 3:24 pm)

Covid-19: five new cases as vaccination gets under way

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