Covid-19 fourth wave -10,000 in quarantine
Almost a sixth of the population was in quarantine this week as the island battled a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
A spokeswoman for the health ministry said that around 10,000 people in quarantine included active cases and their close contacts.
She warned that community transmission was so common that unvaccinated people were at higher risk of catching the coronavirus as more time passed.
The spokeswoman appealed to people to take responsibility for moving Bermuda past the pandemic.
She told the public: “One dose of the vaccine will help for persons not vaccinated and the quicker you get that one dose, the better.
“However, transmission in the community is so widespread that the longer you wait, the more likely you are susceptible to infection.”
The spokeswoman said: “The best and full protection is after both doses of the vaccine.
“We have enough vaccines left to administer another 230 or so first doses, and then we must wait for the next shipment.”
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said this week that there was no fixed date for the arrival of a new consignment of vaccine.
But she reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to supply Bermuda and the other Overseas Territories with enough shots “to meet the demands of the population”.
But vaccination rates have almost stalled.
The Government said on Tuesday that 66 per cent of the population had been given both doses of the vaccine – an increase of just 0.2 per cent in a week.
The health spokeswoman said that the vaccination team was looking at “options that accommodate existing demand and minimise wastage”.
She added: “It is hard not to point out, however, that this free vaccine has been available since January.
“Anyone who wants to get vaccinated has had almost endless opportunities to do so.
“It is hard to imagine what more can be done to encourage people to get vaccinated.”
She added newer variants of the coronavirus were an even bigger threat to health.
The spokeswoman said: “The Delta variant is dangerous for the unvaccinated.
“They are the ones who are more likely to experience severe illness, hospitalisation and, unfortunately, death.
“We strongly encourage unvaccinated persons to do their research with trusted, reliable sources, talk to their physician and go and get vaccinated.
“The more people vaccinated, the better chance we have at stopping the spread.”
The Government earlier set a “herd immunity” target that would be hit when 70 per cent of the population of 64,054 was immunised.
Ms Wilson said on Wednesday that “time is running out” for people to take the jab as she announced a new round of restrictions after the number of active coronavirus cases hit 1,083.
Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board chief of staff, said earlier: “Our natural immune system, when it has learnt to recognise the virus through vaccination, can fight this coronavirus virus off faster and more effectively.”
The health ministry spokeswoman said that the UK approach to quarantine requirements – where fully vaccinated close contacts of a positive case did not need to isolate – was “under constant review”.
She added: “At the moment, close contacts of asymptomatic vaccinated cases who are themselves vaccinated do not need to quarantine, only to follow the testing regime.
“However, this is subject to the risk assessment of the contact tracer.”
The spokeswoman said that the turnaround time for PCR Covid-19 test results was expected to be at least 24 hours but they could take longer.
She added: “If you have not received a negative test result by e-mail in 36 hours, please contact your doctor as they may have been sent your positive test result.”
People who need time-sensitive tests for travel should use the certified private labs – Helix Genetic and Scientific Solutions or C&S West Limited.
The spokeswoman said the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory was processing “thousands of tests each day”.
She added: “For those who must travel, a private lab may be a quicker option at this time.”
* The vaccine clinic at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital is open for appointments and walk-ins on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 7pm and on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm.