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Live updates: 2,000 people receive Covid-19 boosters

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About 2,000 people have received vaccine booster shots so far, the health minister said today.

Kim Wilson added the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the National Sports Centre vaccine centres were administering boosters to people over the age of 65 and to pregnant women.

She said about 300 boosters were being delivered by each centre per day.

She also said it was encouraging to see 70 per cent of the population have now had at least one vaccination dose.

As of January 11 until October 16, Ms Wilson said 298 people had been admitted to hospital with Covid-19. Of that number, 265 were unvaccinated and 33 or 11 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Of the 83 deaths of people in hospital, 70 were unvaccinated and 13 were vaccinated, she said.

Ms Wilson also urged people to be civil to health care workers, who she said were being abused by members of the public.

Wesley Miller, the chief of staff at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, said there had been a drop in Covid-19 admissions and patients and there were now fewer than 30 patients in hospital. There were eight admissions this week compared to 13 and 31 in the previous two weeks.

Dr Miller said all Covid-19 patients needing critical care had been housed in the main intensive care unit over the weekend, although the satellite ICU had had to be temporarily re-opened today.

He said it was hoped to resume elective surgery and outpatient clinics by the beginning of November.

He said there were now fewer than five staff off work due to testing positive for Covid-19 or due to exposures. There had been as many as 80 at the peak of the outbreak.

Dr Miller reported that vaccination rates had also improved. He more than 90 per cent of doctors were now fully vaccinated. He said 81 per cent of nurses had now received at least one dose, and 76 per cent had had both doses.

Among total hospital staff, 66.5 per cent had received at least one dose and 63.8 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Asked if there had been any indication that the so-called Delta plus variant had been identified in Bermuda, Dr Miller said there was no indication it was in Bermuda now.

Asked about the target of 70 per cent of immunity, Dr Miller said the length of time it had taken for Bermuda to get to that mark meant the virus had had time to mutate and spread, which was why a higher level of herd immunity had now been identified.

Asked why Government not using antigen testing in public schools, Ms Wilson said it would be better to ask the education minister about the rules around school testing.

Ms Wilson said she was not certain a public inquiry would be necessary in the wake of the fourth outbreak, but noted that the Premier had said he thought it might be appropriate for a committee of the House of Assembly would be suited to examine that.

Asked what lessons the hospital had learned from the last outbreak, Dr Miller said the hospital was continuing to recruit staff from overseas but nurses were in high demand.

Dr Miller said a commitment had been made for a group of critical care nurses from New York and more nurses were due to be arriving shortly for other departments.

Dr Miller noted that hospital supplies and ventilators were well stocked.

Dr Miller again urged people to listen to their physicians and get vaccinated, saying the big protector against vaccines would be a vaccinated population.

Asked if US vaccine mandates had made it easier to recruit US nurses, Dr Miller said it would not help because all incoming nurses would be expected to be vaccinated.

Ms Wilson said it was impossible for Bermuda to close its borders in order to eliminate Covid-19. She said instead the Government would see whether mitigators such as curfew were working.

The press conference takes place as Bermuda’s fourth outbreak continues to ease off with new and active cases and hospitalisations all falling off. In addition, as of yesterday, there had been no deaths announced since last Wednesday.

Nonetheless, there will still be plenty of questions to ask on topics such as the new Delta plus variant being reported in Europe, vaccination rates and more.