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Essential workers testing at Southside

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David Burt, the Premier, announced last night that a “multi-lane drive-through facility” would open tomorrow at Southside in St George's to begin testing essential workers for Covid-19.

Mr Burt praised Bermudian biochemist Carika Weldon and her team for achieving a “dramatic” increase in test capability for the virus.

He credited them for the more than 200 coronavirus tests fast-tracked over the weekend at the new molecular diagnostics lab.

Mr Burt admitted that “no one is more disappointed than I am when we have not been able to test as aggressively as I know we need to do”.

However, he said that it had been an uphill battle, and asked the public to refrain from finger-pointing.

Mr Burt added that “we can fix what went wrong and move forward”.

He said large-scale testing was “a necessary prerequisite to opening our economy”.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, revealed the number of Covid-19 cases had almost hit 100.

She said one positive test for the disease had come back out of 17 new results, which brought the total to 99.

Ms Wilson added that there were 55 active cases of Covid-19, 44 of them under public health monitoring and 11 patients being treated in hospital.

Total deaths remain at five, more than a week after a 66-year-old man became the latest fatality from the illness.

Ms Wilson said the age of those with Covid-19 ranged from 18 to 91.

Wayne Caines, the national security minister, added that 71 businesses had been granted permission to operate under strict rules after shelter-in-place regulations were relaxed.

Mr Caines said the list of approved businesses was available on the government website.

He added that arrests of people in breach of movement restrictions, mainly people breaking the night curfew, had dropped.

There were 11,477 stops at checkpoints on Monday, and 10,786 on Tuesday.

Mr Caines said his ministry was now preparing for a British Airways charter flight to touch down tomorrow bringing home Bermuda residents who had been stranded in Britain.

He added that “over the next few days, we will begin to test all members of the uniformed services for Covid-19”.

This will include the police, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, as well as customs staff and prison officers.

Mr Burt said he had asked for all non-essential air freight not to be cleared until the end of the shelter-in-place restrictions.

He added that he had asked the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to look at how small businesses, staffed by people from a single household, could be allowed to fill orders online.

Mr Burt added that more than $1 million had been donated to the Bermuda Emergency Fund, with most already allocated to help residents.

He said that every week, more than 7,000 meals, grocery vouchers and grocery bags were distributed to those in need.

Mr Burt added that the Cabinet had discussed pay cuts for politicians at a meeting on Tuesday.

He added: “The Minister of Finance is going to be examining all options.”

To read David Burt's prepared comments, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

Dramatic increase: David Burt, the Premier, answers questions yesterday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Graphic by Christina White
Graphic by Christina White

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Published April 23, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 23, 2020 at 2:29 pm)

Essential workers testing at Southside

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