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37 new Covid cases, eight now in ICU as Minister says 'vaccinations do work'

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Another 37 people have tested positive for Covid-19, the health minister announced last night.

The figure reflects a 2.7 per cent test positivity rate.

In addition, there have been three new admissions to hospital, five have been discharged and eight people are in ICU.

Two of the cases are imported – one came in on the British Airways flight on April 6 and tested positive on day eight and the other came in on the American Airlines flight from Miami on March 31 and tested positive on day 14.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said: “Some in our community are choosing not to get vaccinated. If you want first-hand knowledge about the vaccine, ask your doctor.”

Ms Wilson said the UK variant was “extremely contagious” and encouraged anyone experiencing symptoms, or who has been in contact with anyone with symptoms, to get tested immediately.

She added: “There are now 40 patients in hospital who need medical support to battle this disease. Against this backdrop, some in the community are choosing not to get vaccinated.

“If you have not already done so, register to get vaccinated.”

Ms Wilson also repeated her call to doctors to come forward to give some of their time to help with vaccinations.

“Vaccinations do work,” said the Minister, who added that 2,060 people had now tested positive for Covid since reporting started last year.

David Burt, the Premier announced a change in regulations saying that from 5am on Tuesday, adjustments will come into place.

A curfew will be in place from 8pm and 6am every day, but permitted businesses can open from 7am and 7pm.

Retail stores and pet stores can have kerbside pick-up and delivery. Restaurants and food takeout businesses can operate with takeout and delivery only.

Remote working will remain mandatory but government is working with the Chamber of Commerce to provide a framework for testing of employees before they return.

Supermarkets, grocery stores and gas stations will continue to operate on the alphabetical system and laundromats will open by appointment with one household permitted to enter at a time.

Licensed farmers and registered commercial fishermen will be permitted to sell their produce on the roadside and through delivery.

Outdoor construction and landscaping services can resume.

Courier services can continue and parks will be open, however the mixing of households is not allowed and will be “strictly enforced”.

All other current restrictions remain in place.

“The regulations will remain in place for at least the next two weeks unless data says we can move to the next phase,” the Premier said.

Those in need of unemployment benefit and grants should visit www.uba.gov.bm and www.bedc.bm

Mr Burt said work was under way to resume the tourism season.

He said: “The fragile recovery must be protected as we navigate this outbreak. We can and will be open for tourism”. He looked forward to offering a “fully immunised Bermuda experience” for our guests.

The Premier said the completion of the St Regis hotel is “a national priority.” But he did not directly answer questions about why a stay-at-home exemption was granted and then suddenly cancelled.

He said it will provide much needed jobs and training opportunities for Bermudians.

For the international sailing race, SailGP, Mr Burt said that new measures put in place to ensure safety include reduced number of people on site and reduced training programmes from eight race boats to four.

He said SailGP was further revising the programme to include changes to hospitality programme and cancellation of tickets for tour boat spectators.

“It is important that we demonstrate to the world that we are able to host international events despite the challenges.”

Mr Burt issued a reminder to anyone in need of mental health support to call the help line on 543-1111 and that anyone suffering domestic abuse should call 297-8278. He made clear that anyone suffering from abuse is permitted to leave their home as it constitutes an emergency.

He said he expected those still waiting to receive their unemployment benefit would be paid before end of next week.

Ms Wilson added that her biggest concern going forward was “mischief” and “misinformation” being created online and urged people to get proper information about immunisation.

Ms Wilson said that the AstraZeneca will be made available once the Pfizer vaccinations have run out.

Wesley Miller, chief of staff at Bermuda Hospitals Board, said that the hospital still had the capacity to increase the number of beds.

“There is no shortage of beds, I have adequate numbers,” he said.

“My challenge would be staffing. That remains a challenge but we have cut out the day case surgery and outpatient surgeries so we can redeploy highly-skilled nurses to work in other areas.”

The Premier said the minister responsible for sport is working on details for the Carifta Games, which are due to be held in Bermuda.

The games include athletes who are under 16 who may need to quarantine for 14 days in the absence of a vaccination.

Asked how many MPs had received the vaccination, the Premier responded that a “significant majority of persons have been vaccinated”.

Mr Burt emphasised it was a “private personal choice” that could not be disclosed.

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Published April 17, 2021 at 8:21 am (Updated April 17, 2021 at 8:21 am)

37 new Covid cases, eight now in ICU as Minister says 'vaccinations do work'

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