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Bermuda ‘guaranteed’ access to Covid vaccines

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Bermuda will get “guaranteed access” to Covid-19 vaccines when they become available, the Minister of Health revealed yesterday.

Kim Wilson said that the Pan American Health Organisation was working with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, an international organisation tasked with improving access to vaccines and sourcing Covid-19 vaccines for PAHO countries.

She added: “This collaboration provides Bermuda with access to vaccines to support 20 per cent of our population in the first instance and additional access if and when required.

“The Covax facility, which is managed by Gavi Alliance, is the mechanism through which demand and resources are pooled to support availability of and equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine for all economies.”

Ms Wilson said the Gavi centre's goals included the delivery of at least 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of next year and to end the “acute phase of the pandemic” in the same time frame.

She added that the UK would also send Bermuda doses of the vaccines.

Ms Wilson said: “With the two streams of vaccine access available to Bermuda, we are well-placed and prepared to tackle Covid-19 with vaccines when they are approved and available.”

She was speaking as she announced there were no new cases of the coronavirus after 418 test results came back to the Ministry of Health yesterday.

The island's total number of cases remained at 181 with five active and none in hospital.

Ms Wilson warned against a dangerous rumour that circulated on social medial last week. She said: “Mask wearing does not cause cancer.

“The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings, when around people outside of their household, especially when other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Ms Wilson said it was “vitally important” that people in Bermuda continued to wear masks and did so correctly.

She added that reopening indicators on the government website showed that mask-wearing and physical distancing was still classed as “red zone”, despite short-lived spells of amber.

Ms Wilson said: “We are seeing, unfortunately an increase in persons that are not utilising their mask.”

She added: “I think principally that's because people think that Covid is gone because we're not hearing of hundreds of persons that have contracted Covid and deaths and all the other things that we read about in other societies.

“People think that it's not still here, and it still is here, it's prevalent.”

David Burt, the Premier, said an app was being developed to make safety restrictions easier to check at restaurants and other liquor-licensed premises by a scan of the driving licences of customers.

The Privacy Commissioner is expected to examine how information obtained through the technology is used. Details would not be available to the venues but only to public health teams, if needed.

Mr Burt said that 521 electronic bracelets had been used so far to monitor people who had arrived on the island without a clear pre-departure test.

A total of eight Bermudians who were out of work were hired to set up the initiative, which launched on August 31 and paired a bracelet with a smartphone through Bluetooth and GPS to show the user's location and flag up quarantine violations.

Mr Burt said the technology was now being marketed overseas, which would allow the island to cash in on a rebate on future bracelet purchases.

The Premier said that the “large number of persons who will no longer be working” — after the 18-month closure of the Fairmont Southampton for renovations — was “one of the biggest challenges facing any government”.

He highlighted that the work was a major construction project and advised anyone interested in employment opportunities to contact the Bermuda College or the Department of Workforce Development.

Hotel owners and hospitality employers were told that all 2020 and 2021 work permit applications in hospitality would be “heavily scrutinised” to make sure that Bermudian hotel workers were “employed first”.

Mr Burt said there would be about a 17,000 airline seat capacity in October, but that would still be only about 36 per cent capacity compared with the same month last year.

New flights serving the island will launch next month — Delta Air Lines will fly to New York JFK three times a week, American Airlines to Miami three times a week and British Airways is to move from three weekly flights to five by the end of October.

Mr Burt said that public schools would be closed only on Thursday — to be used as General Election polling stations — and “open as normal” on Friday morning. He added that schools would be “stringently” cleaned before they reopened.

Mr Burt also discussed concerns related to the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service reported on Monday, when a source claimed budgets meant that the Government had left the service without proper equipment.

The Premier outlined how he and Renée Ming, the Minister of National Security, met the Fire Services Association leadership team in July and concerns about tools and training were addressed.

He added that the Government had the “utmost respect and appreciation for the members of the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service”.

To view the statements from the Premier and the Minister of Health, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

Virus update: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
David Burt, the Premier (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 30, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated September 30, 2020 at 2:09 pm)

Bermuda ‘guaranteed’ access to Covid vaccines

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