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Frontline scientist appeals for Covid-19 safety to be a priority for the public

Carika Weldon runs the government laboratory (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The scientist at the forefront of the island’s fight against coronavirus has appealed to the public to take health precautions seriously after she completed almost a full year of work without a day off.

Carika Weldon, a geneticist and head of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, said in a post on twitter on Sunday that she had worked 361 days in a row as the island battled the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Weldon said: “No weekends here. 16 hours per day. In two roles normally, and now with this outbreak I have taken on a new role, school saliva testing coordinator and covering shifts in the lab?”

She added later: “I am overstretched and it is nothing to praise.

“I would love a day off. I am the only person who works from top to bottom in the Bermuda Covid response. It’s scary to see at times.”

Dr Weldon said people should work together and follow the rules to ensure that no one else died of Covid-19.

She added: “I appreciate the support, but ultimately the best thanks anyone can give us frontline workers is to follow the guidelines so we can get back to a normal life.”

The news came as it was announced a Royal Bermuda Regiment soldier had tested positive for the coronavirus after he was involved in an exercise over last weekend.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ben Beasley, the RBR’s commanding officer, said that training for part-time soldiers had been suspended for three weeks as a precaution.

He added the affected soldier had been quarantined and troops he may have come into contact with over the weekend were being contacted with health advice.

Colonel Beasley said the case was the first to hit Warwick Camp since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the island a year ago.

He added the RBR had enforced strict social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitation since the first cases surfaced on the island.

Colonel Beasley said: “Despite our soldiers being on the frontline in the battle against the coronavirus for more than a year, we have done extremely well in protecting them.”

But he highlighted that most soldiers were part-time and could still be exposed to coronavirus risk in their civilian lives.

Colonel Beasley added: “We are working very closely with the health department and we will continue to support the civil authority by manning test and vaccination centres and as quarantine marshals.”

The infected soldier was in contact with around 30 other soldiers over the weekend and spent one night in a shared barrack room.

But Colonel Beasley said that barracks, which could accommodate up to 40 soldiers in normal times, had been restricted to about a dozen troops as a precaution against Covid-19 spread.

He added that most of the training the infected soldier was involved in had been carried out in the open air, which cut the risk of spread.

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Published March 23, 2021 at 8:31 am (Updated March 23, 2021 at 2:53 pm)

Frontline scientist appeals for Covid-19 safety to be a priority for the public

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