Bermuda 'on the right path' to rein in Covid-19, says minister
Bermuda is “on the right path” to rein in the latest Covid-19 outbreak, the Health Minister said last night.
She was speaking after revealing that there were just 12 positive cases found from the 578 latest test results.
Kim Wilson said the island was seeing “slow but steady progress” in the fight against the coronavirus, highlighting that the figure of 91 positive cases given on Monday night reflected two days of testing for the virus.
In addition, the island has seen no new deaths from the illness although David Burt, the Premier, gave condolences to the families of the three people who died over the past few days, saying: “We are again reminded of the human cost.”
There are now 35 people in hospital, down from 40, six of whom are in critical care.
One of the new cases came from a resident who arrived on the American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, testing positive on arrival.
Three new cases are local transmission with known contacts while eight are under investigation, occurring among residents with no known links to cases or recent travel history.
Twenty-three people have recovered and there are 893 active cases. The total cases logged since recording started, the pandemic has hit 2,226.
The seven-day reproductive average of the virus stands at 0.76.
Ms Wilson said the island was in its 14th week of vaccination, with 50,992 doses administrated as of Saturday.
She said 61 per cent of people over 65 were now fully immunised.
The vaccination centre at the Bermuda College will be open to walk-ins from 8am to 8pm on Thursday to Sunday as part of an ongoing effort to further bolster vaccination rates.
Overall, 46 per cent of the population has received one dose, and 34 per cent has now been immunised, a slight rise on the last figures released.
The new regulations, which came into effect this morning, are expected to remain in place for the next two to three weeks.
Household mixing remains prohibited, the alphabetical system at services such as grocery stores remains in effect and a curfew from 8pm to 6am remains in place.
Workplaces pose a major risk, Ms Wilson warned, and remote working continues to be mandatory where possible.
Employers were urged to take up free testing for staff in the workplace and ensure physical distancing.
Asked why testing was not mandatory for those who are returning to work, Mr Burt said the Government had limited powers to require tests, but he encouraged employers to make sure staff are tested.
“If you have reopened your restaurant, if you have reopened your retail store and you have people inside who have not been tested, I don’t believe that is wise,” he said. “Especially when you have community transmission.
“The last thing you want is an outbreak in your store where you have to close again for 14 days.”
Schools remain closed, as are nurseries – except for those approved by the Ministry of Health to care for the children of essential workers.
There is now no restriction on the amount of time the public can exercise outdoors, and they can go more than 1km from home – but again, households are prohibited from mixing.
Mr Burt said the week of the stay-at-home order delivered the “short, sharp stop to activity” that allowed health services to catch up with the record surge in numbers.
He said he would address the public this Sunday to outline the island’s way forward.
Mr Burt conceded the latest round of restrictions has been “frustrating and tiring” but he urged the public to keep the end in view.
The Premier reiterated that the Government planned to eventually introduce some period of mandatory quarantine for non-immunised travellers at the border.
He emphasised that getting vaccinated was a personal choice, although the jab was proving “incredibly effective” in suppressing the virus.
Mr Burt said he had “not actually polled my Members of Parliament” but added he was aware that every Cabinet minister medically eligible to get the vaccine had received at least one shot.
The One Bermuda Alliance has confirmed that all six of its MPs had received the vaccine.
Wesley Miller, the chief of staff at Bermuda Hospitals Board, said the number of hospital employees who had tested positive was “small”.
He declined to give an overall figure, citing privacy, but said it had been “more than 20 for the whole period of time” that the island has borne the brunt of the pandemic.
Dr Miller said none of the deaths from Covid-19 had been among people who had been fully immunised.