Live updates: Covid-19 curfew extended for two weeks, some schools to reopen
The night time curfew will be extended for two more weeks, David Burt said today.
The Premier at today’s press conference that the Cabinet had agreed to this in a bid to contain the current Covid-19 outbreak.
Government has also authorised the return of students to classrooms. Mr Burt said some schools will return as soon as next week and more details will be announced tomorrow.
David Burt, who earlier offered condolences to the friends and families of those who have died from Covid-19, said that although new cases had declined recently, it was likely Bermuda would experience more people going to hospital and more deaths because of the lag time between new cases being identified, symptoms emerging and death.
He said those were some of the hardest words he had ever had to say.
Mr Burt said 94 per cent of people admitted to hospital in the current outbreak were Black and he urged all to get vaccinated, which he said was the single most effective way to contain Covid-19. Generally, vaccination rates among Blacks are lower than in other ethnic groups.
In answer to a question about vaccinations, he said there had been a marked increase recently in registrations. He said there had been 1,500 vaccination registrations this month.
Mr Burt said some people felt that the Government should have introduced restrictions earlier, but he maintained people also had to take personal responsibility.
He said there were instances of 90-year-olds living in homes with 60-year-olds where the young residents had been vaccinated but the older people had not. When the virus was introduced into the home, it was the 90-year-old who got sick, he said.
Mr Burt said the scale of the outbreak was making Covid-19 real to people. He said it was not about stopping people from shopping or dining because these things had to happen, but about people protecting themselves through vaccinations and taking the recommended safety measures.
“For people who would have said it was not real before it is personally impacting them now,” he said.
People should avoid using home remedies or cocktails of medications which are not authorised for the treatment of Covid-19, Bermuda’s chief medical officer Dr Ayo Oyinloye said.
He urged members of the community to consult with their physicians before using home remedies recommended on social media.
He said several patients had avoided getting tested or seeking medical help because they believed their home remedies were sufficient. “These home remedies are not useful,” he said.
He also urged health professionals to “first do no harm” by inadvertently spreading myths about unauthorised treatments which were unproven.
Dr Oyinloye added that SafeKey testing had not produced an increase in cases of unvaccinated individuals.
He also emphasised that people who had been vaccinated could not shed the coronavirus. He said this was impossible because the vaccines did not contain the virus.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, has also offered condolences to the families of those who have died. She noted all know of someone who has died of Covid-19 or have been extremely ill.
She said that since January 11 when vaccinations started through last Friday, Bermuda has seen 235 people in hospital, of whom 215 were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and 20 were vaccinated. Of the 46 deaths recorded since January 11, 39 were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and seven were fully vaccinated.
She said for fully vaccinated individuals entering hospital, the age range was greater than 40 years to over 80 years and for unvaccinated people over 20 to greater than 80.
Dr Oyinloye and Ms Wilson said they could not give precise details of the conditions for people who died, but noted that the unvaccinated tended to see more deaths at earlier ages.
But Mr Burt, in later comments, noted that seven of the 10 deaths reported yesterday were people who were over 80, showing the most elderly were the most vulnerable.
Ms Wilson encouraged anyone who was not vaccinated to register for a vaccination. there will be a free vaccination service on Sunday from 10am-3pm, Friday, October 8 from 3pm to 7pm and October 10 from 10am to 3pm at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Booster vaccines will start next week, Ms Wilson said. People with suppressed immune systems will be first to receive them and more details will be released soon.
Dr Wesley Miller, the Chief of Staff of the Bermuda Hospitals Board, said slight declines in cases and the number of patients in the hospital did not mean the outbreak was over.
He said the hospital still had many patients with Covid-19. He also urged people with serious conditions including stroke symptoms not to hesitate and to come in to the hospital for treatment.
He said the risk of coming to the hospital with one condition and getting Covid-19 was remote.
People with questions about their condition should call 239-2009, he said.
He also noted that people had not been vaccinated and had Covid-19 should not be deterred from coming to hospital. “We will not judge you,” he said.
Dr Miller thanked members of the public who had supported the vaccination programme and had brought meals to the hardest-pressed departments.
Dr Miller said there were 52 hospital staff on quarantine or having tested positive, down from more than 70 last week. “We hope that is a trend,” he said, adding he did not have the data on who was vaccinated and who was not.
But the week before, he said 75 per cent of those who were off work were unvaccinated.
He said he had seen an increase in people getting vaccinations, especially among younger people.
Registered nurse vaccinations had increased from 50 per cent at one point to 76 per cent with four per cent having had at least one dose this week.
Asked why Government had not mandated work from home to contain the virus. Mr Burt said there was a one size fits all policy would apply. But he said employees who felt safety conditions were not being observed could report them and have them investigated.
He said Government and private organisations had made provisions to keep workplaces safe.
Asked if there plans to expand testing capacity, Dr Oyinloye said the Health Department was working to allow more antigen testing as a means of screening, but noted that where positive cases were identified, PCR tests would be used for confirmation.
Dr Miller said people with less severe health problems were being encouraged to use the Southside urgent care centre.
He said the hospital’s challenge was not space for patients, but the availability of critical care nurses. He said highly trained nurses were being transferred from other departments to intensive care wards.
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The press conference comes as the death-toll from Covid continues to rise and as the hospital has been forced to use refrigerated containers as the morgue is overwhelmed.
Issues that could be addressed during the briefing could be latest vaccination rates, plans for booster shots, and reaction to the news that six cruise ship passengers tested positive for Covid this week.
Also attending the briefing will be the Chief Medical Officer Dr Ayo Oyinloye, and BHB Chief of Staff Dr Wesley Miller.
Deaths from the current outbreak are now higher than they were for the rest of the pandemic:
But there are indications that the outbreak is easing, as new cases have declined from their peak ten days or so ago:
In part, this is because symptoms and deaths from Covid-19 tend to occur days or weeks after a positive case is identified. The decline in new cases – and the drop in the rate at which people are testing positive – may also be because more people are quarantining or self-isolating.