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Nine in ten happy with handling of pandemic

OBA view: health spokeswoman Catherine Kempe (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

More than 90 per cent of people in a poll this year said that the Government had handled the Covid-19 crisis well.A survey by Total Research Associates and Narrative Research found that 92 per cent of the 400 people they talked to between April 22 and 29 were satisfied with the overall response to the pandemic.One third said they were completely satisfied with the response and 60 per cent reported they were “mostly satisfied”.The main reasons were said to be the Government’s strong communication efforts, the implementation of the lockdown and an overall belief that the administration had done a good job.A total of 25 people said they were dissatisfied and the main reasons given were poor communication from the Government, a delay in imposition of the lockdown and that testing needed to be improved.Catherine Kempe, the One Bermuda Alliance’s health spokeswoman, said this month that the last Progressive Labour Party administration took advice about the pandemic from “their key people”, including Cheryl Peek-Ball, the former Chief Medical Officer, Fiona Ross, the Bermuda Medical Council chairwoman, and Carika Weldon, a geneticist who helped to set up the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory for coronavirus testing.She added: “These people have done amazing work and it was wonderful that the Premier listened to them.“From the health standpoint, we’ve done exactly what other countries have done, in terms of that.”David Burt, the Premier, said in April that a “more aggressive” approach could have been taken to secure Covid-19 testing equipment.He said that it was a lesson learnt from the response to a coronavirus outbreak at the Westmeath seniors’ care home, when there were not enough swabs and viral transport media — used to preserve samples for analysis — to test residents immediately after a staff member received a positive result for the coronavirus.The Premier added then: “We could have been more creative and we could have made sure that all of the resources that were at our disposal could have been deployed at a quicker point in time.‘‘All of that being said, I am confident ... that we’ve turned that corner.”Mr Burt added: “I think the other lesson that is learnt is to err on the side of caution.”But he said that the island had handled the crisis to the best of its ability.Craig Cannonier, the OBA leader and then Leader of the Opposition, joined the Premier and Cabinet ministers at a Covid-19 press conference in May to signal a united front against the virus.He said at the time: “I want to give great thanks to the Premier for this opportunity that we have this evening to sit at the table in a bipartisan approach to a virus that seeks to annihilate us.” Mr Cannonier said that there was “a new way forward for us in bipartisanship” although there would still be questions and “hard conversations”.Mr Burt explained earlier that the presence of an Opposition leader at a government press conference was “perhaps ... a first in modern Bermuda history”.He said: “Covid-19 does not care if, or how, you vote and at this time neither should we.”The Premier added at the press conference on May 1 that he and Mr Cannonier had been “bitter” political rivals, and that the trust between them was “far from perfect, but it’s getting better”.