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Dunkley says Covid-19 trends should have been seen sooner

Michael Dunkley, the Shadow Minister of Health (File photograph)

A massive surge in coronavirus cases should have been tackled sooner, the shadow health minister has claimed.

Michael Dunkley said Bermuda’s Covid-19 figures had only recently shot up past 1,400 active cases, but that it was clear last month that numbers were headed in the wrong direction.

He added: “The Government was slow to act and to communicate the serious situation we were facing.

“Now our healthcare system is at a breaking point and staff at the Bermuda Hospitals Board are tired, stressed and rundown.

“The virus has shown over and over again that if we give an inch it takes a mile.

“This fourth spike, the worst to date by far, has been caused by community transmission. A small minority have put us in a difficult position.”

But Mr Dunkley said a new shelter in place lockdown would not deal with the problem in the long run.

He added: “Lockdowns are temporary measures that have the ability, as soon as they are lifted, to commence another climb in cases.

“The past eighteen months have proven that Covid-19 will not be suppressed unless we all change our behaviour to fight the virus doing what we know works – wearing a mask, social distancing, proper hand hygiene and staying in a bubble.

“A minority of Bermudians have not exercised personal responsibility and we can’t say strongly enough that we will not get through this unless we all work together as a community.”

Mr Dunkley said that testing capacity had to be increased because the jump in cases had put pressure on capacity and caused extra strain on healthcare staff.

He added that efforts should be made to ensure staffing levels were sufficient to manage the load.

Mr Dunkley said: “We should also consider options to allow community testing with products that can help, such as lateral flow testing kits.”

He also appealed for the return of regular press conferences more frequent release of Covid-19 figures.

Mr Dunkley said: “The Government have been way too quiet recently.

“During a serious spike, with the community on edge, daily information is important and will heighten awareness of how serious our plight is.”

He added the One Bermuda Alliance would encourage personal responsibility to curb the spread of the coronavirus and work to boost vaccination numbers.

Mr Dunkley said: “Vaccinations offers strong protection against Covid-19.

“Sadly, our vaccination programme has stalled and it’s imperative that we step up our vaccination message and persuade those who have not yet had the vaccine to take it.”

Mr Dunkley highlighted statistics released by the US-based Centres for Disease Control, which found that fully vaccinated people were five times less likely to catch Covid-19 and ten times less likely to be hospitalised or die if infected.

He said “It works. It offers protection not only to the person who is vaccinated but people around them.

“Everyone should get vaccinated unless there is a medical reason why one should not.

“A healthy life is promised to no one, so I work hard to live a healthy life and exercise daily. I had the vaccine after research. My family is also vaccinated.

“We believe it helps us, but we still keep our guard up against the virus.”

Mr Dunkley added the laws designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 must be enforced and claimed that there has been “little enforcement”, despite multiple breaches.

He said: “Sadly when a small minority believe there are no consequences, they take advantage.

“You can’t blame the vaccinated for the spike – by getting vaccinated they have demonstrated they care about the community and I believe they are very likely to follow Covid-19 guidelines such as wearing masks even while being vaccinated.

“The OBA believes in pro-choice – but with that comes a responsibility to follow rules and restrictions.”

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Published September 21, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated September 21, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Dunkley says Covid-19 trends should have been seen sooner

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