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Travellers ‘not out of woods’, warns Wilson

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The Minister of Health issued a fresh warning to air arrivals last night that they were “not out of the woods” until after they got a clear coronavirus test after 14 days.

Kim Wilson said: “Symptoms of Covid-19 can take 14 days to develop, this is why travellers are not free to roam until after their Day 14 negative test.

“Once travellers have two negative tests, then they can roam with the utmost care. But that means that they must physically distance, wear a mask, avoid large groups and the clinically vulnerable, as well as wash their hands often.”

She warned: “It is not carte blanche to go partying with dozens of people.

“Anyone arriving in Bermuda remains under mandatory 14-day public health monitoring, which includes self-monitoring of their temperatures and symptoms daily and reporting any symptoms to the epidemiology and surveillance team.”

Ms Wilson was speaking after a tourist who tested positive sparked a major tracing operation in the wake of spending time on a charter boat, at a gym and in a restaurant.

Ms Wilson added public health officials had visited all the businesses the visitor infected with the coronavirus had been.

Ms Wilson said she wanted to dispel speculation and that public health officials had visited restaurants, a gym and a charter boat where the infected tourist had gone, although she did not identify the businesses involved.

There were four cases found on Monday, including two recent air arrivals who at first tested negative for the coronavirus.

A total of 1,149 test results came back yesterday and all were negative.

There are ten active cases of Covid-19, all under public health monitoring and none of the victims required hospital treatment.

The number of confirmed cases in Bermuda stands at 166.

But Ms Wilson warned that symptoms of the coronavirus could appear as late as 14 days after exposure.

She added that a tracking bracelet system to monitor travellers during quarantine will be activated next Tuesday.

Arrivals without a pre-departure test will have to test on arrival and quarantine for a minimum of eight days from the same day.

They will have to have a negative test result after Day 8 to be released from self-quarantine, but a Day 4 test will not be required.

Saliva tests for the virus have been validated, but it is yet to be decided how they will be used.

Ms Wilson added that 82 per cent of tests over the past ten days had been administered to visitors.

Ms Wilson joined David Burt, the Premier, Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, and Renée Ming, the national security minister at the regular Covid-19 briefing at the Berkeley Institute.

Mr Burt revealed that Carika Weldon, the Oxford University Hospitals scientist who has led virus testing at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, would move back to Bermuda from Britain.

Dr Weldon is to lead an expanded laboratory at the Bermuda College where lab sciences will be taught.

Mr Burt said the island had balanced reopening to visitors with a tough test regime and that calls from the public for mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers would make tourism impossible.

Mr Burt added that there had been a threat of industrial action on the part of court officials, who had rejected cost-cutting measures, which Mr Burt said he had discussed last week with John Rankin, the Governor.

He added discussions continued with the unions that represented the uniformed services.

Mr Burt said that “wearing his tourism hat”, said more hotels were scheduled to open in the next few weeks.

He added the Bermuda Tourism Authority had deployed tourism ambassadors to the airport to answer questions about Bermuda and travel.

Mr Burt said that there had been extensive meetings held with the Bermuda Union of Teachers on health and safety as schools prepared to reopen next month.

A decision was reached to bring the start of the new school year forward by three days to September 14.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, arrived while the briefing was in progress, and said that the education commissioner was holding Zoom meetings this week with teachers, and would talk to pupils next week.

Mr Rabain said remote learning would only be in effect for students ruled to be “extremely vulnerable” to Covid-19 and must be backed by a doctor's letter.

All other children would be required to attend normal classes.

Mr Burt said the extra three days would allow staff time for full professional development on health and safety precautions.

He added they included: “Entry to exit of school buildings, isolating sick staff and students, special services programmes, school evacuation and requirement of food services as required by the Department of Health”.

Ms Wilson said that plans would be drawn up in case of an outbreak of the coronavirus in schools.

She said; “We are making progress with regards to identifying the alerts and the situation as far as what the plans are for outbreaks.

“A lot of that will be determined based on a number of things — one is the nature of the outbreak in so far as how many students, staff and faculty members are affected.

She added it was planned that pupils would remain in “bubbles” while at school to cut down on the risk of transmission.

Ms Wilson said: “We are working with the Department of Education so that we can get that plan established.”

Next week will be the last such press conference, but Mr Burt said that he and ministers would continue to hold briefings.

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

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

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Published August 21, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 21, 2020 at 9:06 am)

Travellers ‘not out of woods’, warns Wilson

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