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New restrictions, Covid cases pass 1,000, one more death announced

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Another person has died from Covid, the Government said last night.

It marks the 37th death since the pandemic hit the island last year.

The news was revealed after a press conference when health minister, Kim Wilson, announced new public safety restrictions – including a curfew – to combat the current surge in cases.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, announced the measures last night as the number of active Covid-19 cases passed the 1,000 mark, and the island’s death toll from the virus hit 37.

Ms Wilson said that a further 150 positive results - the record for a single day - were received by the health department today from 2,949 tests – a positivity rating of 5.1 per cent.

Bermuda now has 1,083 active cases, with 11 people in ICU – up from ten yesterday.

There are 42 people in hospital for the virus, and 14 people have recovered since the previous update.

One of the new cases came with a recent history of travel, while the remainder are classed as local transmission or under investigation.

Ms Wilson said that Government was forced to reintroduce restrictions in a bid to stem the spread – and blamed it on irresponsible residents who had failed to follow Government recommendations.

She said: “As the number of active cases increases significantly – primarily through community transmission – Government must take proactive measures from a public health perspective to prevent further cases.

“We must put measures in place to slow the transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant.”

A curfew from 12.30am until 5am will come into effect from tomorrow lasting for two weeks.

Essential services will be exempt, but Ms Wilson warned that “the expectation is that the general public will be in their homes”.

For the next four weeks, restaurants, bars and clubs will be limited to the amount of customers they can serve, with seating limited to ten patrons per table, which must be placed six feet apart. Bar service will be permitted, but there will be no standing at a bar.

Ms Wilson also said that police will be given new powers to shut down any establishment that does not comply with the regulations.

Additional safety protocols to be introduced from tomorrow include a ban on raft-ups. Face-masks must be worn indoors, and outdoors in crowded settings.

Ms Wilson warned that further measures could be introduced.

“If people aren’t prepared to exercise a certain amount of responsibility then we have to come down with the heavy hand of the law,“ she said.

Ms Wilson acknowledged that the current crisis was causing “emotional stress”, but suggested that people weren’t “adhering to the message” and taking responsibility for their behaviour.

The minister urged employers to allow staff to work from home if possible, adding: “There are many businesses in Bermuda who can manage there workloads and workflows from home and they should be doing this.”

Insisting that work environments had been a major cause of previous spikes, Ms Wilson said: “Your colleagues are not part of your personal household bubble – When will we ever learn?”

Ms Wilson described the new measures as “a short, sharp shock”, which she hoped would cause people to “start paying attention”.

She said: “Bermuda, we understand the economic and emotional strain this pandemic and further restrictions is having.

“But this outbreak is spreading quickly in our community – in close settings, with mixed households, people not following the guidance, getting out and about in our community with symptoms, and not adequately using personal protective equipment.

“These restrictions are necessary to protect our community. They’re not designed to make people’s lives harder, and we must strike a balance between protecting the island and protecting our economy.

“If we do not follow public health guidelines and safety measures, our community spread will continue.”

Ms Wilson added that the virus was now “so widespread” that it was no surprise that Government services were being impacted and that the health system was “overwhelmed”.

And in an attempt to kick-start flagging vaccination rates, she urged people to take the jab.

“Time is running out,” she warned.

Dr Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board chief of staff who also attended last night’s press conference, said that the hospital’s intensive care unit was now full, as was a satellite ICU. There are vacancies in a second satellite unit that was set up last week.

Dr Miller confirmed that 12 Covid patients were now in ICU – but did not say how many additional non-Covid patients were also receiving specialist care. According to a BHB spokeswoman, the unit can handle a maximum of 30 patients.

Dr Miller also said that 21 BHB staff had tested positive for the virus – 17 of which were unvaccinated. He said that other staff were absent because of Covid-related issues such as quarantine.

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Published September 16, 2021 at 1:04 pm (Updated September 16, 2021 at 1:04 pm)

New restrictions, Covid cases pass 1,000, one more death announced

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