Covid outbreak fuelled by people going to work with symptoms – Minister
A fresh outbreak of Covid-19 is being driven in part by “people going to work with actual symptoms”, the health minister said yesterday afternoon as she “reluctantly” conceded the island was seeing its fourth wave of infections from the virus.
“This is not acceptable behaviour, and it adds to the uptick of positive cases we are witnessing,“ Kim Wilson warned as she implored the community to practise personal responsibility.
At a press conference yesterday, Ms Wilson criticised a build-up of “complacency” towards the ongoing pandemic, adding: “More and more people are not taking this seriously and are not following public health guidelines.”
She said the island had flagged on guarding against mixing households and consistently wearing masks.
She added: “Despite the risk, people are going out in public and to events before getting test results.”
Recent outbreaks have included schools and camps, and infections are being seen in younger people, with those aged 30 to 39 topping present cases.
Ms Wilson said it was “primarily an outbreak of the unvaccinated”, with fully vaccinated people incurring “very few” serious cases of infection and no deaths.
She said that from the start of the island’s vaccination campaign in January up to the end of August, there were 133 Covid-19 patients sent to the hospital, a figure including repeat admissions.
Of those, 116 were unvaccinated, 12 were partially vaccinated and five had received both doses of the jab.
Out of 22 deaths attributed to the virus in that same time period, 19 were not vaccinated and three were partially vaccinated.
Ms Wilson “strongly” encouraged those who were able to work remotely to do so, and urged businesses to take appropriate precautions and have contingency plans in place.
She said “several clusters” in the present outbreak highlighted the contagious nature of the Delta variant.
Ms Wilson did not specify when the Government might consider more drastic measures such as a stay-at-home order, saying only the Government was “hoping we will not have to utilise that”.
But she said all exemptions granted for large groups ahead of the latest outbreak would now be required to use SafeKey technology to scan people for either a recent negative test for the virus, or proof of full vaccinations.
The island’s previous surge in March and April was driven mainly by the Alpha strain of the coronavirus.
Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board chief of staff, said the present outbreak was “posing a challenge for us”, with elective surgeries suspended.
The surge in cases has also pushed contact tracing resources past their limit, Chief Medical Officer Ayo Oyinloye warned.
“Because of the sheer numbers of cases at the moment, it’s impossible for us to contract trace every single case,” he said.
“Some are as many as 80. It’s simply not possible.”
He said cases over the last month had initially begun slowly, but “in the last two weeks the numbers have shot up dramatically”.
The press conference came after another Covid death, bringing the number of people who have died to 35.
There has also been a huge surge in the number of active cases, with another 225 being reported yesterday.