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Positive Covid-19 tests up to 27

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Five more cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, the Premier announced yesterday.

David Burt said that three arrived on British Airways flights and the other two were close contacts of people who had earlier been given positive test results — which brought the total number of cases to 27. He added the news meant that there was still no confirmed community spread on the island, but the causes of two of the cases were still under investigation.

The Premier also revealed:

• The first ten-hour overnight curfew was mostly well observed

• Payments from a scheme for people out of work because of the coronavirus will start to be made this week

• A closure period for businesses will be extended by seven days

• Talks will be held by the Cabinet to determine next steps for the airport

Mr Burt said that the Government got the results of 30 tests yesterday and 25 were clear. He added that the three new cases arrived on the BA flights on March 13, 15 and 17.

Self-monitoring periods for passengers on the first two flights had already ended.

Mr Burt said passengers on the March 17 flight would end their self-monitoring period today.

Mr Burt told travellers who may have been on one of the three flights: “If you have any respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or even a mild fever, please contact your doctor, explain that you were on one of the aforementioned British Airways flights and that you would like medical guidance.

“Do not go to your doctor's office or the hospital — please make sure that you call ahead.

“Now that we are at 27, I can recognise that there is, of course, a heightened sense of anxiety inside of the community.”

He added: “It is expected that we would have an increase in numbers. Here is what is key — that there is no confirmed local transmission that has taken place at this time.”

Mr Burt said that 17 of the 27 cases had come in from overseas and eight had been in close contact with people who were already confirmed to have Covid-19.

He added that the epidemiology unit was trying to identify how the two cases under investigation contracted the virus.

The Premier said that contact tracing had been carried out on the two people, their close contacts were quarantined and none had shown symptoms so far.

Mr Burt asked the public to keep people diagnosed with Covid-19 and their families in their thoughts and prayers.

He explained that the “streets were generally clear” after the first curfew was imposed from 8pm on Sunday until 6am yesterday. The Premier said: “There were two persons who were stopped when they were seen walking just after midnight.

“There were two on-the-fly curfew exemptions that were given. One was an elderly couple, the man was a cancer patient and required KEMH attention and was driven to the hospital by his wife.

“The second had previously been a hospital patient and needed to return and was being returned by a family member.”

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, added later that the two men who were out without excuse were detained by police and put in a BPS vehicle.

He said that one man escaped and the other was taken into custody. Mr Caines added: “That matter is under active police investigation.”

Mr Burt added that there was also a break-in at the Coconut Rock restaurant in Hamilton before the curfew ended and that people were arrested as a result.

The Premier said: “The curfew will continue for two more nights and it will be assessed to see whether or not the Cabinet will ask the Governor to extend that curfew for a further period of three more nights.”

Mr Burt did not rule out a curfew extension to 24 hours.

He replied: “We're going to make any of those particular decisions based on the evidence on the ground.”

Mr Burt added: “This is an incredibly contagious virus. Our job is to make sure that we minimise community spread.

“That is what we have done with our extremely aggressive social-distancing measures and I sincerely hope that we will not have to go to the next level, which will cause even more economic pain.”

He said: “The expectations are that 50 per cent of persons in Bermuda at one point in time will contract it. We just want to make sure that 50 per cent of people don't contract it in the next four or five weeks before we have the ability to effectively treat and to contain.”

The Premier said that 27 people were in Government-monitored quarantine centres.

He added that anyone in quarantine at home could not carry out their isolation period elsewhere.

Mr Burt explained that follow-up checks were made on nine people who were earlier found to be in breach of self-quarantine rules.

He said: “All persons were found accounted for, save one.

“The Ministry of Health is going to be speaking with the police to advance that particular matter to see that that matter is dealt with appropriately.”

Mr Burt said that 819 applications for unemployment benefits were submitted to the Department of Workforce Development, which will vet the forms and accompanying documents.

He added: “It should be noted that the first round of approved payments will be issued later this week.”

The Premier said that although the restriction on commercial flights would be in force until April 4, airlines had “generally suspended their service to Bermuda for the month of April”.

He added: “The Cabinet will discuss the future status of resuming scheduled commercial airline traffic and it is too early to say what criteria may be established for a decision on the opening of the airport. “We are taking into account the persons who are still stranded overseas who are looking to return home and we're factoring all of those in our decision-making.

“Please, however, note that we will not open the airport prematurely.”

Mr Burt said that closure orders for businesses and public places, including retailers and churches, would be extended for another seven days.

To view the Premier's statement in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”

David Burt, the Premier, pauses during the daily Covid-19 press conference at the Cabinet Building yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Graphic by Christina White
Taking shelter: some of Bermuda's homeless took advantage of the temporary shelter at the Berkeley Institute on Sunday, the first night of the curfew (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Curfew enforcement: Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, takes to the streets on Sunday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Backing the Government: John Rankin, the Governor, speaks during the daily Covid-19 press conference, held by David Burt, the Premier, at the Cabinet Building (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published March 31, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 31, 2020 at 7:25 pm)

Positive Covid-19 tests up to 27

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