OBA slams Government over Weldon resignation as head of coronavirus test lab
The Government came under fire yesterday from the Leader of the Opposition for a “frustrating and unbelievable” delay in Covid-19 tests that was followed by the resignation of the programme’s top scientist.
Cole Simons said the Government had “ignored the pleas for help” from Carika Weldon, who had “put them on notice that Bermuda’s Covid-testing structure was about to collapse”.
Mr Simons was speaking after news last night that Dr Weldon had quit her job as the director of the Molecular Diagnostics and Research Laboratory.
Test results were running at least two days behind this week, in the wake of a backlog over the weekend that delayed children’s return to their classrooms and disrupted travel.
Mr Simons said: “She clearly saw the challenges ahead with the increased Christmas travel, returning students coming home for the holiday and tourists choosing to spend their Christmas in Bermuda.
“She proactively sounded the alarm, but to no avail.
“By ignoring the growing bottleneck and not addressing the mounting pressures that she and her reduced staff face daily, the Government has not only compromised the health of the people of Bermuda, they have also destabilised Bermuda's status as a safe travel destination.”
Mr Simons also questioned the impact of the delays on the island’s “already fragile” tourism industry.
He asked: “At the height of the very contagious Omicron virus, where is the Government's contingency plan? What are the next steps for Bermuda?"
The Cabinet Office yesterday confirmed that Dr Weldon would leave at the end of this month.
The Government’s failure to take Dr Weldon’s advice was also condemned by Susan Jackson, the shadow education minister.
Ms Jackson said: “It's disheartening that Government refused to listen to MDL, whose staff is on the front line in the battle against Covid.
“If they listened to MDL, parents who have been negatively affected by the last-minute decision not to open school as scheduled could have been better prepared.
“Ignoring red flags raised by the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory perpetuates an environment of mistrust and erodes future collaboration and buy-in.”