Health chiefs urge people to ‘maintain a certain level of caution’ over Covid
Leaders in health have urged residents not to quit measures introduced to help protect against Covid-19.
Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board Chief of Staff, and Ayoola Oyinloye, the island’s Chief Medical Officer, highlighted yesterday the importance of vaccinations, mask-wearing and social distancing.
Dr Miller urged people to “maintain a certain level of caution”.
He said: “Things have improved from the days when we had the Delta variant and the hospital was filled with patients and we had to create extra ICU space for intensive care.
“However, we have to recognise that there is still Covid overseas, there is a significant amount within our community and as people interact it’s worthwhile having some caution.
“At the worst times we had more than 100 staff off because of Covid either through infection or exposure.
“At the present time we are at less than 50 but that is still of significance because the numbers don’t give the full story.
“There are some areas where we have very few staff and therefore if you have individuals from those areas who are off then it really poses a significant strain for the others, or it could put us in a position where we can’t deliver the services to the level that we would like to deliver them.”
He said that for confidentiality reasons the specific departments affected could not be identified.
But Dr Miller added: “Some of these are important areas of clinical care delivery, so we always have contingencies but it just shows that Covid is no respecter of persons. ”
The BHB chief of staff said that he must “congratulate the vast majority of Bermuda residents” for their adherence to preventive measures such as wearing masks.
He added: “There are some areas, however, where people are a little bit lax. It may be an element of ignorance, from the point of view that I will see people sitting outside and they’re sitting very close to each other, having lunch or having dinner, but they’re having a jolly good old time and they’re shouting and they’re laughing.
“That proximity – although in one sense it is in keeping with the rules – it’s an area of risk, that I would just like to point out to people that when you’re in that close proximity, faces touching with strangers and the laughing and shouting, it’s the perfect opportunity for transmission.”
Dr Miller said it had been shown "conclusively … that in instances where there is vigorous exercise and people are in close proximity, the amount of droplets that they put out can be as much as 500 or 700 times what would happen in normal breathing and conversation“.
He added: “If the person were to be infected with Covid, then it becomes a perfect spreading opportunity although, because they’re outdoors they may think, ‘well, it’s not going to happen’ but you have to be mindful of proximities.”
Dr Miller highlighted that people who were vaccinated were better placed to have “good defence and good immunity” against the coronavirus and were less likely to become severely ill, compared with people without the vaccine.
He said that mask-wearing reduced the spread of the coronavirus and other viruses.
Dr Miller added: “We have been accustomed to wearing masks. We will now travel to the United States and notice that a lot of people are not wearing those.
“In fact, some people, the moment they get on the plane, they take off their mask.
“I would not advise Bermudians to do that. My advice would be, let ‘caution’ be the by-word.”
He said: “There’s no good reason at this point in time to abandon practices that have worked well.”
Dr Oyinloye pointed out that Bermuda was experiencing a “lull” in coronavirus-related deaths and hospital admissions.
He said that was thanks to high vaccination rates, a fairly high level of previous infection and more treatments for people with Covid-19.
But the CMO warned: “We are still seeing deaths, on average once every two or three weeks from this, so this is by no means over.
“Bermuda, do your best to protect yourself against this virus by vaccinating.”
He added: “Maintain social distance as much as possible, if you are with people who are outside your household it’s always a good idea to wear masks, especially when you are indoors.”
Dr Oyinloye said that results from samples sent to New York for deep sequencing – to determine which coronavirus variants were on the island – were expected soon.
He explained that “about half of the cases we sent to Carpha [the Caribbean Public Health Agency] in March showed us that we have the BA. 2 variant”.
Dr Oyinloye added: “I suspect that that will still be the case and we might be seeing some of the sub-variants of the BA. 2 on island, once we get the deep sequencing results back from the New York genomics sequencing centre.”