Premier David Burt Holds Press Conference
(Click on image to watch press conference)
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
And good afternoon to our listening and watching audience here in Bermuda and around the world. This evening, I will give a COVID-19 Health update. I’ll provide information about the new mental health line, that is now available, and also discuss free online training opportunities that exists for Bermudians. Today, I am joined by the Minister of National Security, who will review items regarding our shelter in place. I am also joined by the Attorney General, who will review items regarding the shelter which is set up for vulnerable persons, and also the Minister for Tourism and Transport will give an update related to transportation matters in the Transport Control Department.
I’m also joined by the Minister of Health, who will be here to answer any questions later on health matters.
Today, the Government of Bermuda received 49 new test results as a result of our aggressive COVID testing regime. Out of the 49 tests that were received 40 were negative, and additional nine were positive. However, it is also my sad duty to today report another COVID 19 related death. Today’s tragedy is among the new nine positive cases that were reported. On this occasion, a middle aged person whose source of transmission is still under investigation. I send my condolences to the family whose privacy, we will respect this tragic time. Bermuda’s total confirmed positive cases stands at 48. 25 have now recovered, 10 are hospitalized, and there are nine cases that are under active public health monitoring, but who do not require hospitalization.
Out of the ten, who are hospitalized, eight of those persons are in stable condition, and two of those persons are in intensive care. The range of ages for those persons hospitalized range between 58 years old and 75 years old, and the average age is 68.
The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 49. The median age is 48, and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 83, years old. Out of the 48 positive cases that have been confirmed today, 27 are males, and 21 are females. A review of our over overall testing numbers show that to date, out of the 362 tests, which have been conducted 48 were positive, and 306 were negative.
It is on the somber note of yet another death that is related to COVID-19 in Bermuda, that I have to remind all persons that the Shelter in Place Order is there for a reason.
We must take collective action to stop the spread of this virus, which has already taken four persons from us. We each have to do what we can to keep our island safe, and you do this by following the rules and remaining on your property.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, and normally we’ll be out enjoying our friends and family, while eating hot cross buns and fishcakes. You can still do that, but you must do it at home. No you cannot go to your cousin’s house, your siblings or your friend’s house to collect your usual order. This year we have to sacrifice for the greater good, and stay at home, recognizing that this is just for a time, and we will get through it. But if we do not follow these directions, more persons will, unfortunately, succumb to this illness.
As I’ve indicated before, once the Shelter in Place Order is lifted, we will be able to enjoy our traditional festivities, which we’ll observe on another date in our calendar. But I say to all persons, that it is not the Premier of the country, the Ministers of the Cabinet, or even the elected officials that can make the difference in this situation. It is everyone working collectively together. Stay at home, only leave your house for essentials, and make sure that you are observing social distancing guidelines.
These outings are not social opportunities. You go, get only what you need and then return home. That’s it.
We are asking that individuals only go by themselves. And we’ve seen that that is not being observed. And we’re asking people to be mindful, as any additional resources that are strained with our police and Regiment make us collectively, less safe.
On that note, I want to address a concern that has been expressed by people with pools in the possibilities of mosquitoes breeding. The Ministry of Health has confirmed that that is not an issue. Therefore pool cleaning is not and will not be deemed an essential service during this COVID-19 sheltering in place period. Pool cleaning companies should give instructions to their clients on how to perform self-maintenance. Pool owners can take guidance on a case by case basis from their pool cleaning company.
But this request suggests,, to me that some people do not understand that cleaning a pool is not more important than saving a person’s life. We must take this seriously and consider the questions that we’re asking, and the jobs that are being asked for regarding exemptions. So let me be clear, cleaning a pool is not an essential or critical service, while we fight to save lives.
Also, as a reminder, if you are going out, you should wear a mask. It is important to remember that mask by themselves will not protect you from contracting the coronavirus, but what a mask will do is prevent you from spreading the virus to others, if you are an asymptomatic spreader of the virus.
During an earlier meeting today of the Cabinet, the Minister of Health did advise that we will be issuing new guidance to all essential service workers that are out doing, and conducting essential services that they must wear a mask in public. Persons who are not abiding by those particular rules, those businesses will not be allowed to provide any essential services.
It is important to remember that the general public should not use surgical or N95 masks if possible, as there is a global shortage of these masks and they’re best reserved for healthcare settings. However, please, if you’re outside cover your face and the instructions, coronavirus.gov.bm on how to make your own face cover.
As we all learn to navigate the world we didn’t anticipate and the things we have taken for granted are no longer immediately accessible, our levels of stress and anxiety, coupled with uncertainty has left many of us in need of additional support. We know that this pandemic has brought many new experiences and complications to many, and I share those concerns of the toll which this is taking on so many of our families. And this is not what the Government of Bermuda wanted to do at this time, but it is unfortunately necessary in our drive to save lives.
If you need someone to talk to a new hotline has been created by dialing 543-1111, you will have access to a qualified, experienced mental health practitioner, to talk to, if you’re feeling anxious, sad, overwhelmed or stress. This line will be open starting tomorrow, from 9am to 9pm, seven days per week. This hotline is available in addition to our existing COVID-19 hotline where you can continue to get advice to your questions and general concerns.
The difference is that this new hotline is about helping support our community’s emotional well-being, as we negotiate the day to day challenges of managing this pandemic. The government is grateful for the support of the third sector crisis response effort for coordinating the work and the Bermuda Psychological Association for stepping forward to manage this new hotline.
We’re also thankful for the contributions of the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s, psychiatry department and operations team, the Mid Atlantic wellness psychology division, Bermuda Government public officers and Bermuda Health Council for making this a reality. I extend my sincere thanks in advance to the many health professionals who are helping to staff the emotional well-being hotline. Again, the new, emotional well-being hotline number will open tomorrow, it will be open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm, and you can call 543-1111. If you need it please use it. For other general queries, you are welcome to call the traditional hotline at 444-2498.
A final thank you to Dr. Allison Daniels, president of the Bermuda Psychology Association, who has done a tremendous job of helping to get this line up and running with the support of the BPA, the Bermuda Psychology Association, we will also be managing the roster of mental health practitioners who will be answering the phone.
I am pleased to report that yesterday 20 Bermudians who were on the ship, the Coral Princess returned home safely on two privately charter jets. Once the travelers were processed, they were immediately taken to the government quarantine facility where they will stay for two weeks.
This was a very difficult task to get these persons back here, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the cruise ship passengers could not be on the same flight with non-passengers which is why they were not on the flight which is organized by Travel Edge on Tuesday. Travel Edge and Coral Princess had agreed and received approval for a disembarkation plan that involves taking cruise passengers straight by bus from the ship to the airport and the cruise line chartered the flights to bring the Bermudians home.
With that I’m now going to turn over the mic to the Minister of National Security, Minister Wayne Caines, who will give an update on matters, under the Ministry of National Security.
Thank you Minister Caines.
I’ll now hand them the press conference over to the Attorney General and Minister of legal affairs Kathy Lynn Simmons who will update on the government shelter.
Thank you Minister Simmons.
Thank you. I’d like to echo the effects of the Attorney-General for certainly the work that has gone into place to make this a reality. Given the public health crisis, which we’re in it is quite a particularly undertaking to make sure that the facility is safe, and I would like to say that it is a testament to the ethos of the Government of Bermuda, to make sure that we are not forgetting our most vulnerable during this particular time.
I will now turn the press conference over to the Minister of Tourism and Transport, Minister Zane DeSilva, to give an update regarding the transport control.
Thank you Minister.
I’d like to touch on a topic which I spoke about last week. The necessity of us using this period in time to upgrade our skills.
Now is the time to start thinking about the future. While we are observing the Shelter in Place Order, many people are at home with extra time on their hands. This is the time to start thinking about the next step. What skills do you have that will help you in the post COVID economy.
The Department of Workforce Development provides support and online training for anyone who is considering a career change or is interested in learning new skills. Persons can complete an online career assessment which measures aptitude and interest. The results can be used to make informed choices about careers and to help with educational planning. If you are interested in completing a Careerscope Online Assessment send an email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a link and instructions to get started.
Workforce development also offers free online tutorials in Microsoft Suite and many more using IBM Kenexa, Proveit! IBM Kenexa has many online tutorials and assessments which can be tailored to the individuals needs as you look to retool and enhance your skills. Use the same email address to email@example.com for instructions to get started.
If you are interested in learning more about FinTech, there are free online courses that are available for Bermudians. Those are available at fintech.bm. I will urge each of you who are hoping to upgrade their skills to take advantage of these online resources which are offered free of charge and give the opportunity to use this time in a more productive fashion.
In closing, I recognize our essential and critical workers. You may have noticed some photographs at the press conference this evening. The pictures were taken by Jayde Gibbons of Queendom Heights and they are pictures of those on the front line who are making a difference for Bermuda.
Before my press conference started, there was an ad which was produced by the Department of Communications and the wonderful team here at CITV and you can see them at the close of this press conference as well. You can watch a video collage of the images taken by Ms. Gibbons on all of Government’s social media.
As I said yesterday, and as I close. I would like to make sure that we all remember our essential workers who are doing everything they can to ensure that this country is able to operate, and we all remain say. Over the next few days, please take some time to send a message, a nice voice note, or maybe even make a quick phone call or video call to a health care professional, because they are the true heroes that are working day and night to keep us safe.
In the spirit of this weekend, which is the holiest on the Christian calendar, there will not be any regular press conferences on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The next time that I will address you from this place will be on Monday afternoon.
The Ministry of Health will be sending out an update on Saturday only. That means that there will be no update on the testing tomorrow, Good Friday, and there will be no update on testing on Easter Sunday. However, we will be back here with you on Monday. I sincerely hope that you take this time this weekend to connect with your family and your friends, and for those persons who follow in the Christian faith. I wish you happy Good Friday and Happy Easter holiday. With that, I’m happy to take any questions that you may have.