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Rule breakers risk tougher Covid-19 measures for all

Kim Wilson, gets the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

People who throw parties and events with more than 25 people could force the introduction of tougher restrictions to combat the coronavirus, the health minister warned last night.

Kim Wilson said: “I must remind the rule breakers – those holding parties and events with more than 25 people in attendance – that this is not allowed and is dangerous and irresponsible behaviour.

“The more of these parties that there are, the more chance there is of spreading the coronavirus.

“If the virus spreads, we will likely end up with more restrictions beyond the curfew and restrictions on events with more than 25 people.”

Ms Wilson, speaking at the regular press conference with the Premier, David Burt, said the Health Ministry was monitoring the latest outbreak.

Mr Burt added that two schools, Northlands Primary and Dellwood Middle School, both Pembroke, had experienced exposures to Covid-19.

Mr Burt said Whitney Institute Middle School, Smith’s, received a Covid-19 exposure notice this afternoon and had started a risk assessment.

Ms Wilson said the island had recorded two more cases of coronavirus today and the number of active cases was now 30.

Ms Wilson said the positives were among 440 test results that had come back to health officials.

She added new research had shown that the coronavirus was transmitted through smaller droplets and over a longer period than at first thought.

She said contact tracing showed that larger indoor gatherings were the main cause of transmission.

Mr Wilson added: “We fully appreciate that members of the community are suffering from Covid fatigue but we must remain vigilant not let our guard down.”

She said 30,481 doses of the vaccine had been administered by yesterday. Twenty-nine percent of the population had received at least one dose while 18 per cent - 11,316 - had received both shots and were fully immunised.

Mr Wilson said 4,699 vaccine doses were administered in the first week of March and 4,304 in the second – a total of 9,003 shots.

But a breakdown of who had received the vaccine was not available.

Ms Wilson said 22,298 people had registered interest in being vaccinated.

She added the number had been revised to eliminate duplicate registrations.

Ms Wilson said 50 per cent of registrations were White people, 29 per cent were Black people, 13 per cent were mixed and eight per cent did not give an ethnic origin.

Mr Burt highlighted that Bermuda was about to mark the first anniversary of the first two cases of the coronavirus.

He said the more than 30,000 doses of the vaccine administered was something Bermuda could be proud of and brought the country closer to an ambitious target.

Mr Burt added: “The truth is, Bermuda, that vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic and there is no absolutely way of beating that reality.”

He said the island was fortunate “because of an arrangement with the United Kingdom and its overseas territories to supply vaccines”.

Mr Burt added he would meet Rene Lalgie, the Governor, tomorrow to discuss future shipments.

But he warned that the so-called UK variant of the coronavirus was more transmissible and deadlier and Bermuda was in a race to get people vaccinated before it, and other, mutations spread.

He appealed to businesses to use the WeHealth app to help with exposure notifications, for eligible people to get vaccinated and for those who were ineligible to get tested.

Mr Burt said the next six weeks would be critical in breaking the chain of transmission as more people got vaccinated.

He added the Cabinet had agreed to continue the midnight to 5am curfew.

Mr Burt said there was a discussion on whether to tighten restrictions but it was agreed the 98 per cent should not suffer for the two per cent who had not stuck to the rules.

Ms Wilson added people flying in to Bermuda who had been immunised would not be required to wear wristbands as long as they had clear pre-arrival tests.

She said fixed penalties for breaches of Covid-19 restrictions were in the pipeline, but that it was not likely legislation would be passed before Parliament broke up next Friday.

Ms Wilson revealed that Reserve Police officers would be used to patrol the island and report on homes where it was suspected more than 25 people were gathered in breach of the regulations.

Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, said there was little scientific evidence to support concerns about Astra Zeneca’s Oxford vaccine, which has been linked to the formation of blood clots and deaths in several countries.

He added that, although some European countries had paused its use, more research needed to be done.

Dr Oyinloye said the Oxford vaccine had not been used in Bermuda, but was scheduled to be in the future.

Dr Oyinloye added trips to the grocery store could not be compared to organised sports events.

He said the greatest coronavirus risk was around the sporting event, including in changing rooms before and after the game.

Dr Oyinloye added: “It is comparing apples and pears.”

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Published March 17, 2021 at 8:19 am (Updated March 17, 2021 at 8:19 am)

Rule breakers risk tougher Covid-19 measures for all

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