Covid-19 testers and sanitiser to arrive soon
Bermuda will extra supplies of hand santitiser to help the fight against a new potential killer strain of coronavirus by next week, the Premier promised yesterday.
David Burt said: “We recognise this could be an existential threat to our tourism industry and a threat to our financial services industry.
“That is the reason why we have mobilised a full and complete government response.”
The Government confirmed last night that 400 cases of hand sanitiser are due to arrive on the island next week.
Supplies will be handed out at locations across the island, starting with at-risk groups like seniors.
Mr Burt added: “The Minister of Finance has made emergency spending available.
Mr Burt was speaking as the number of people infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus strain topped 100,000 worldwide.
He admitted: “There are some questions of shortages of particular equipment.”
However, he said “all of that has been communicated to Public Health England” — an agency of the National Health Service in England.
The island ran short of medical face masks last month.
The Premier said: “We're looking at eliminating duty on these particular items. We are doing everything possible to make sure we can keep the people of this country safe.”
He highlighted that the country “remains on the lowest risk for international travel” and had no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.
Mr Burt added the island had “incredibly stringent steps at all of our ports”.
The Government said tonight it had been planning for the cruise ship season in view of the threat from the virus.
It added: “All cruise ship lines serving Bermuda have been contacted and they have shared their individual policies for the health screening of passengers.”
David Kendell, the Director of the Department of Health, explained: “By liaising closely with shipping agents, government personnel are preparing for the planned arrival of all cruise ships to the island.
“Under the International Health Regulations, all ships must forward a Declaration of Health form to the Department of Health which must be received at least 24 hours before the ship's arrival.
“The declaration will detail any instances of infectious diseases on-board and lists any previous ports of call.
“By having this information in advance we can make decisions based on risk assessments and in line with the International Health Regulations as to whether or not we need to intervene in any way.
“We also carry out full inspections of cruise ships on request in order to issue Ship Sanitation Certificates.”
The Government added that extra nurses from across the healthcare profession were being trained in investigation and case management to deal with suspect cases in the community.
It also said that 911 telephone operators had changed their usual call-handling methods with enhanced questioning of callers to handle situations that involved a possible case of Covid-19 to ensure the appropriate emergency services were used.
Information will also be sent to churches with tips on the prevention of respiratory illness to pass on to their congregations this weekend.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said: “I would like to re-emphasise the importance of practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and common sense.
“It is important to remind members of the public that if they feel unwell with respiratory symptoms, to please call ahead before entering any healthcare facility.”
The Sail2020 international conference on artificial intelligence, due to take place in Hamilton between April 27 to 29, was called off yesterday because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organisers posted on their website: “We are sad to announce our decision to postpone Sail2020.
“We could not in good conscience ask you and others to take the risk of exposure to Covid-19, or potential quarantine.
“Many of our speakers are also now unable to participate. We will post our new date as soon as it is confirmed.”