COVID-19 Update – Bermuda Government April 11, 2021
Good evening, Bermuda,
I sadly begin tonight by again offering my deepest condolences to the families of the two individuals who have lost their lives to the coronavirus this weekend. Each person lost is a cruel reminder of the severity of this virus.
We have now lost 16 people and while we report them as numbers here, to their families they are not just numbers, but people who leave behind loved ones and friends.
Before I invite the Minister of Health to provide an update on the latest COVID-19 results, I think it is important to properly frame why we are where we are as a country.
This current outbreak started because of reckless conduct which introduced the variant and its spread into the community.
That spread has increased and continue because of the mixing of households contrary to the public health advice.
We are now seeing cases beyond the initial events that arise from Good Friday events which again mixed households, despite strong Government advice not to do so.
The number of people in hospital, the number people in the ICU and the number of people testing positive for this virus mean that we must take stronger action to stop the spread and save people’s lives. We must and we will act now.
As I indicated, I am joined tonight by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson who will provide us with an update on the latest COVID-19 test results.
The Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ayo Oyinloye is also present to answer any medical or technical questions from the media. We are also joined by Dr. Wesley Miller, the Hospital’s Chief of Staff.
First we will hear from the Minister of Health…
Thank you, Premier. Good afternoon.
I start by echoing the sentiments expressed by the Premier in offering my condolences and my prayers for support for the families who have recently been impacted the death of their loved ones due to COVID.
As the Premier noted in last week’s press conference, our goal is to shorten the COVID-19 update press conferences. I will provide information on the positive cases, the positivity rate, and details of those who are infected, eg, travelers who tested positive and their flight details. My updates will continue to include how many people are in the local transmission category and how many are under investigation.
If anyone is looking for additional details, such as the mean age of the positive cases, that information will continue to be updated on the government website – coronavirus.gov.bm.
Since the last update two days ago, there were 3,348 test results received by the Ministry of Health and 118 were positive for COVID-19. This gives a test positivity rate of 3.5%. For Saturday, there were 64 positive cases out of 1575 results – a 4.1% positivity rate; and, for Sunday, we are reporting 54 positive cases out of 1773 results – 3.0% positivity rate.
Five of the new cases are classified as imported with the details as follows:
- 1 resident who arrived on American Airline AA 308 from Miami on 31 March, 2021 and tested positive on their day 8 test
- 1 resident who arrived on Delta Airlines DL 584 from Atlanta on 8 April, 2021 and tested positive on their arrival test
- 3 residents who arrived on American Airline AA 2044 from Charlotte on 9 April, 2021 and tested positive on their arrival tests.
20 of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as associated with known cases.The additional 93 new cases are classified as under investigation. These cases are among residents with no currently identified link to other known cases or history of travel in the past 14 days. There were 110 recoveries and two deaths, which we reported yesterday.
Bermuda has 1891 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:
- There are 877 active cases, of which:
- 841 are under public health monitoring and
- 36 are in hospital with 6 in intensive care;
- a total of 998 have recovered, and
- the total deceased is 16.
The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is above 1 (1.07).
I will provide the vaccination statistics at Tuesday’s press conference.
Our mission in the Ministry of Health remains focused on providing accurate, timely information to the public about all measures in place that will help to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
We continue to see a high number of positive cases and now deaths. This is avoidable. As the Minister of Health, it is extremely frustrating to know that Bermuda is in a state of community spread because some people choose to ignore public health measures such as mask wearing and choose to hold or attend parties with large groups of people in contravention of the law.
We must work together to stop the spread of the coronavirus. I’m hearing stories of people who are unwell, leaving their homes to run errands or visit friends. Others who go to work with a cough. When these people get tested, they are found to be positive and, in turn, have already infected the people they have come in contact with. I urge everyone if you have a headache, stay at home. If you feel a muscle ache, stay at home.
The symptoms of the UK variant seem different from the symptoms we identified for the earlier strain of the coronavirus. Symptoms of the UK variant tend to include cough, tiredness, headache, muscle ache and sore throat – which are easily confused with seasonal allergies. If you experience any of these symptoms please contact your doctor and make an appointment to get tested. Likewise, if you have been in contact with someone who has these symptoms, make an appointment to get tested. The UK variant of the virus is also exceptionally contagious and the symptoms of the disease are deceptive. This means we must all pay very close attention to even the slightest change in our health status. For example, yesterday you weren’t coughing but today you are? Get tested!
Once you have been tested, you can expect to receive the results within 48 hours. Often results are sent in much less time. However, if you have not received your results, do not call the COVID-19 helpline or the Molecular Diagnostic Lab. Your first call should be to your doctor’s office who will give you the results and provide guidance on what you should do.
The lab is processing hundreds of tests a day so the key point is to be patient.
Given the enormous number of positive cases at this time, there are delays with respect to contact tracing. We are grateful for local doctors for assisting with the early notification of a positive result to their patients, and informing them of the need to start making a note of their close contacts. A reminder, though, if you are told you are a close contact, please quarantine immediately. Do not wait. The Ministry’s contact tracers will arrange for you to be tested but the most immediately helpful and necessary thing you can do is quarantine.
Each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app. If you haven’t already done so, register to get vaccinated.
Thank you Minister of Health…
Earlier today, the Cabinet met to discuss our current circumstances and the Ministry of Health’s recommendations for further actions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The recommendations are founded in a need to stop the spread; to permit the vital work of contact tracing to accelerate, to isolate positive cases and allow our healthcare teams to focus on increasing testing and vaccinations.
Accordingly, the Cabinet has agreed the following:
(i) Bermuda will be under a Stay at Home Order from 5am on Tuesday, April 13th for 7 days. This means persons are not to leave their homes for anything other than essential movement or grocery shopping.
(ii) Grocery shopping will return to alphabetized days of shopping by surname.
(iii) Shopping for essentials at a pharmacy.
(iv) Attending a gas station.
(v) Attending your vaccination or testing appointment(s).
(vi) Attending a medical appointment at a registered healthcare professional’s office.
(vii) Additionally, there will be limited banking services that will be able to be provided.
These Permitted Businesses will operate from 11am-7pm during the seven day period of the Stay at Home Order. These are the only businesses that will be able to remain open. All other businesses which cannot operate remotely, must close.
Groceries stores will remain open, and the supply chain for goods is uninterrupted. This means there is no need for people to rush to the shops to panic buy. Buy what you would need normally, and continue to be considerate of others. There is enough for everyone.
Again, working from home is mandatory and if you cannot work from home you must remain at home.
Household mixing is prohibited and will be specified like that inside of law. If you choose to mix households or visit another household, you will be violating the law that will come into place at 5am on Tuesday. And as could be seen, you could be endangering your health and the health of your loved ones.
The Cabinet will continue to deliberate. On Tuesday when our next press conference is held we will lay out further details regarding the Stay at Home Order and what our next steps are including changes to the restrictions at the country’s borders.
It is clear that the rate of spread is far more advanced than we believed, and the regulations put in place have not been enough to slow it down.
We must act now as continued and unabated household mixing is leading to increased transmission and persons are becoming ill due to the severity of this variant. With these enhanced measures our goal is to slow the spread, ramp up testing, and continued expansion of our vaccination programme.
Vaccinations are essential to getting our island back to how we all wish for it to be. Expanding our vaccination programme will be done with the specific intention of reaching herd immunity by the end of May. Vaccinations work. They prevent severe illness and therefore prevent hospitalisations.
As I close, this outbreak is far reaching and has affected many. You are used to seeing me at these press conferences from the Cabinet Office, but there is a reason I am joining remotely today and that is because I recently tested positive for coronavirus infection. It was a very low-level positive due to the fact that my immune system can recognise the virus due to the vaccine and I have had no symptoms whatsoever. It was my fifth test in three weeks, and on Good Friday my entire family tested negative, so it was quite a shock, especially as we’ve been extra cautious but it was a shock experienced by many in Bermuda.
Thankfully they have all tested negative again and they are quarantined, while I am isolating from them, as required by law. I am fine, and thankfully because I am immunized I have no fear and I’ve experienced no symptoms. But it is a reminder to all of us that we cannot be too careful, and that we should avail ourselves of the testing that is available, and make sure that we protect ourselves with the vaccine that is available.
This virus is not a hoax. It is real. It has impacted the world. It has impacted our island. It has impacted families. It has impacted our national psyche. However, there is one thing it has not impacted and that is this Government’s determination to see this country through. Unlike other countries in the world, Bermuda has enough vaccine doses to get this country to herd immunity. We will use this time to accelerate our vaccination programme, to ensure that we salvage our peak tourism season and have a regular summer.
Just like we set a goal to administer 38,000 vaccine doses by the end of March, and met that goal. I have no doubt we will meet the goal of herd immunity by the end of May. However, we must be vigilant, we must follow the rules and we must recognise that our actions today will be the cause of our future tomorrow.
We must all stay at home and protect ourselves, our families and to protect our country. To ensure our hospital is able to service all those who need help, and our brave healthcare workers on the frontline can get some relief.
Over the coming days we will be in our separate homes. Despite this physical disconnection, we must come together with a collective mindset to do what it takes to end this outbreak in this country. I know it will not be easy, and I know that many are frustrated, worried, and ultimately tired of this persistent battle.
This does not mean that we have to agree on everything, but it does mean that we must work together to achieve our common goal of stopping the spread of the coronavirus and ensuring that we protect our entire healthcare system.
As I indicated, we will be giving another press conference on Tuesday, when we will lay out the next steps which will take place after the initial seven day Stay At Home Order. The most important thing for all of us to remember is, do not mix households, be very careful, be very vigilant, and follow Public Health advice.
Give your contact tracers information, make sure you quarantine if you are asked to do so, isolate if you are required to do so, and make sure you do what is necessary to help this country get back to where it needs to be.