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Petition call for tougher quarantine for arrivals

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The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the Covid-19 virus (File photograph)
Sabrina Ledyaev

A petition to extend the Covid-19 quarantine period for people who arrive in Bermuda from overseas was tonight rejected by the Government.

Sabrina Ledyaev and Alaina Cubbon gathered almost 600 signatures by 2pm today after they launched the change.org campaign last Friday.

The petition, e-mailed to David Burt, the Premier, and Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, came as teachers, pupils and their families were told to quarantine because of cases linked to several schools.

But Ms Wilson said the Government would not act on the petition.

She said the move would be “hugely detrimental” to the island’s struggling tourism industry.

The petition called for a strict quarantine for all arrivals to the island for at least eight days to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

People who have a clear pretest for the coronavirus before they fly to Bermuda only have to quarantine until they get a clear arrival test at present.

That means travellers are usually free to move around the island within 24 hours of arrival.

The petition said: “Overseas arrivals are the only way that these cases have appeared in our community.

“Covid-19 cases are continuing to climb overseas and the tests have been shown to be particularly unreliable in the first few days to a week after exposure.”

It appealed: “Ask the Government to address the problem at its source.

“Ask for travellers to be more strictly quarantined for at least eight days.

“By doing so, Government can regain full control over the epidemic, Bermuda’s children will be able to go back to school safely, and we can certainly avoid a second lockdown.

“Stop the problem at its source. Don't let children pay the price for travellers’ early freedom.”

Ms Ledyaev said that her five-year-old son was a Year 1 pupil at the private Saltus Grammar, so her whole family had to quarantine last week because of a case connected to the school.

She added: “I understand why we were quarantined and I have no problem with it. That was the right thing to do.

“But why aren’t those precautions taken with people coming from overseas?

“I understand some hotels are going to suffer from it but it’s the low season for tourism. How many tourists are we getting anyway while taking that risk?”

The number of active Covid-19 cases in Bermuda jumped in recent days to 37.

The island now has a Covid-19 reproduction rate above 1 and its country status has been changed by the World Health Organisation from “sporadic” to “cluster of cases”.

The Government’s website says all air travellers who have a pretest before flying must “immediately quarantine” until they get a negative result from their arrival test.

The turnaround time for results is normally less than 24 hours.

Residents without a pre-departure test must quarantine until they get a clear day 8 test result.

The petition said hundreds of children are having to quarantine for days and miss school because of the jump in cases, which meant parents had to work from home, take time off or lose pay.

It added: “Meanwhile, travellers to Bermuda, who have likely come across a positive case overseas, are only required to fully quarantine until their arrivals test comes back negative, less than 24 hours later.

“Even with a pretest, there is a reasonable probability that these passengers may come into contact with a positive case in the five days to hours before travel.

“For shorter visits, there is no way to ever tell whether a visitor was positive for Covid-19 while here as there is no requirement to continue testing once they leave Bermuda.

“In these cases, there is no way to even effectively contact trace.”

The petition can be found here.

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Published December 02, 2020 at 8:47 am (Updated December 03, 2020 at 9:10 am)

Petition call for tougher quarantine for arrivals

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