Bermuda suffers 32nd Covid-19 death
The death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 32, it was revealed last night.
The grim news came as active Covid-19 cases dropped below 200 for the first time since March.
David Burt, the Premier, offered condolences to the “two who passed away since our last press conference, due to the coronavirus”.
Just one positive test was recorded yesterday from 1,155 that came back to health officials – a positivity rate of 0.1 per cent.
Twelve people recovered, which means there there are 196 active infections – the lowest since March 25.
Ms Wilson said there were seven people in hospital, the lowest since April 2, and two in critical care. The R rate was 0.56.
Ms Wilson said that 44 per cent of the population was now immunised with two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and a further 9 per cent had received one dose.
There were 63,994 doses of the jab administered by this week.
Within age groups, 71 per cent of those aged 80 or older have now been immunised, another 12 per cent had had one dose of the vaccine and 66 per cent of people aged between 65 and 79 have had two doses and 12 per cent one.
Among 50- to 64-year-olds, 57 per cent have had both doses and 15 per cent have had one, while among 16 to 49-year-olds, 41 per cent have had two doses and 15 per cent have received one.
Ms Wilson reported that the close to home vaccination services would be at Victor Scott School in Pembroke on May 16, at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s on May 18, Fairmont Southampton on May 20 and on May 22 at the Transport Control Department in Pembroke.
The service is available from 10am to 2pm and minibus services are available for those without transport.
Ms Wilson also highlighted ten home visits made to people for vaccinations in the West End this week and said the same service would be available for people in the East End on Saturday.
She praised care home staff for their work over the pandemic.
Ms Wilson admitted that some staff and residents were hesitant to get the vaccine and appealed to them to get medical advice from their physicians.
She said 60 per cent of the deaths from Covid-19 last year occurred among rest home residents while 11 per cent had occurred this year.
Mr Burt said Bermuda was seventh in the world on a per capita basis for vaccinations and he urged people who were vaccine hesitant to speak to their doctors.
He said Bermuda has seen a decline in new cases and cases with unknown transmission in recent weeks and said Bermuda still had a lot of work to do before Bermuda moved to phase three of the road map to normality on June 6.
Mr Burt confirmed non-immunised travellers would be required to undertake supervised quarantine in hotels at their own expense but he said hotel bookings would not be required or paid for before people left the island.
He also reiterated that there were exemptions to the requirement for people with medical reasons not to take the vaccine or returning to students who had been unable to get a vaccination.
The Premier acknowledged there had been reports of vaccination discrimination within Bermuda.
He said: “Vaccinations are a personal choice and outside of protections at the border to keep new dangerous variants out of Bermuda that can lead to another shutdown there should not be different treatment locally.”
He added that legal advice would be given to businesses at Tuesday’s press conference.
Asked if Bermuda would ever be able to end social distancing requirements if Bermuda could not get to 70 per cent immunisation, Ms Wilson said it could be achieved through a combination of vaccines and testing.
But she said she though it could be a long time before people could stop wearing masks entirely.
“I am not sure we will ever see a time where we will never ever have to wear a mask, not any time soon,” she said, adding they may have to be worn seasonally.
Ayo Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, said that if local transmission could be eliminated, then protections at the border would be the only way for the virus to get in.
But he still urged everyone to get vaccinated as the best means of eliminating the virus.
Dr Oyinloye said the Government was still in discussions with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on enabling the Pfizer vaccine to be given to children under 16.
Mr Burt reiterated that the Government’s ultimate goal was to eliminate local transmission of the virus.
The Premier added that countries had been successful in eliminating the virus even before vaccines were available.
Dr Oyinloye also said that it was unlikely that Bermuda would be able to administer the Pfizer vaccine to 12- to 15-year-olds from the vaccines given to Bermuda by the UK until the British health authorities agreed to allow it. He said the authorities were disucssing it now.
But he said that would not prevent Bermuda being able to give the Pfizer vaccine to that age group, which has been approved by the US and Canada, if it got it from a different source such as the Covax facility.
Asked about a class being quarantined at East End Primary School, Dr Oyinloye said a student had tested positive at an East End school but due to excellent distancing practices at the school, only a limited number of teachers and staff had had to quarantine.
Participants at the press conference were unable to answer a question of whether the Molecular Diagnostic Lab was certified to an international standards organisation level being demanded by some airlines before allowing passengers on a flight.
Certain airlines and Asian countries have required PCR tests to come with the rigorous medical laboratory standard designated ISO 15189.