COVID-19 Update – Bermuda Government April 13, 2021
Good evening Bermuda,
Apologies we’re a few minutes late this evening – as you can imagine it’s been a rather busy day. Thank you for joining us tonight where the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson and I will provide an update on the most recent coronavirus test results, and other updates from her hardworking Ministry. Additionally, the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ayo Oyinloye is also with us to answer any medical or technical questions from the media.
First we will hear from the Minister of Health…
Thank you Premier. Good afternoon.
There were 870 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update and 23 were positive for the coronavirus. This gives a test positivity rate of 2.6%.
1 of the new cases is classified as imported with details as follows:
- 1 resident who arrived on Jet Blue B62879 from Boston on 3 April 2021 and tested positive on their Day 8 test
6 of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as associated with known cases.
The additional 16 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 14 recoveries and 0 deaths.
Bermuda has 1935 total confirmed coronavirus cases. Their status is as follows.
There are 868 active cases, of which:
- 827 are under public health monitoring.
- a total of 1051 have recovered, and
- the total deceased remains at 16.
The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is 1.11.
Before I move to the vaccination numbers, I will share the COVID-19 statistics on hospital admissions for today.
There are 43 persons who have COVID-19 in the hospital. There have been 4 new admissions and 5 discharges. 5 people are in ICU and 3 of them are intubated.
I will now provide an update on our vaccination statistics.
We have completed the thirteenth full week of vaccinations. From January 11 to April 10, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 45,761 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 46,935 if you include vaccinations administered on Sunday and Monday. This is very good news indeed.
Of the 45,761 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends April 10th;
- 54% are women, and,
- 46% are men.
Bermuda’s goal of “herd immunity” will be achieved when 70% of the population (64,054) has been immunised. To date, 40% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose), and 31% of the population has been immunised (with 2 doses). To push forward and get close to this goal more quickly, the Ministry will be ramping up the vaccination programme at Bermuda College – as the Bermuda Hospitals Board has done already – with the aim of immunizing 62% of Bermuda’s population by Bermuda Day – 28 May 2021.
Starting this weekend, the Bermuda College Vaccination Centre will be open from 9am – 3pm on both Saturdays and Sundays when 250 – 300 doses of the vaccine will be administered each day. Then from 19 April, Monday to Friday, the Centre will be open from 8am to midnight, allowing an additional 250 people a day to be vaccinated. This is a great step forward for the country’s vaccination programme with 1,550 extra doses being administered weekly.
The Ministry team is ready to ramp up our vaccination programme but we need help. We are appealing to all the doctors in Bermuda to give us time. If every doctor in Bermuda takes one or two shifts on a weekday evening or during the day on Saturday or Sunday, we will succeed; Bermuda will succeed. As the Minister of Health, I am calling on the medical fraternity to make this commitment to our community. If you can help, please contact Dr Brett Lefkowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bermuda Hospitals Board already increased its vaccination output this past weekend, extending its hours on Saturdays and expanding to Sundays as well. The BHB will focus on delivering an additional 750 vaccinations each week. It is anticipated with the increased vaccination capacity, we will be very close herd immunity by the end of May, instead of mid-June.
The simple message right now is, if you haven’t already, get vaccinated. There is no need to wait. There is no need to delay. Go online and put your name down to register. The process takes no more than two minutes. If you don’t have access to the online form, phone 444 2498 and register. We all have a role to play to keep our country safe.
I am excited about the possibility of Bermuda more quickly achieving herd immunity. Getting vaccinated is something we can do for ourselves, our family and our community. Just imagine: celebrating Bermuda Day with a small group of immunised family and friends!
I want to extend a sincere thank you to the physicians, EMTs, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and other allied professionals who have taken it upon themselves be a part of the vaccination process at the Vaccination Centre so far. We could not do it without them. Thanks also to Bermuda College for continuing to work with the Ministry of Health so we can implement these new hours, and to the Royal Bermuda Regiment for its continued and welcome support. I must also publicly recognize the men and women of the Ministry of Health who are a part of the vaccination programme. They have all worked tirelessly and long hours to ensure we can offer the vaccine to all who wish to be immunized.
I will now talk about the changes in the Ministry’s testing programme. Since April 2020, the Ministry of Health has primarily used nasopharyngeal tests. The test sample is collected from both nostrils by a trained swabber.
The new testing protocols will allow three additional testing methods to be used:
- Oropharyngeal test – the test sample is collected from the back of the throat by a trained swabber. This test is for those directed to get a test by a Healthcare professional. This test used on children and adults with a history of nasal problems.
- The Nasal Mid-Turbinate test – the sample is collected from both nostrils, is self-administered and observed by a trained swabber. This test is for travelers and people who are concerned they may have been exposed to a confirmed case.
- The Saliva test – the sample is self-administered and observed by a trained administrator. This test is for travelers and people who are concerned they may have been exposed to a confirmed case.
The additional testing protocols will enable the Ministry to use its staff more efficiently and thereby increase our capacity.
The testing will take place at the following locations:
- Star of India and Penno’s Wharf are reserved for those who are concerned they may be positive for the coronavirus and for outbound travellers.
- Bull’s Head is for those who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and for people who have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Perrot Post Office is also for persons who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus and people who have COVID-19 symptoms.
Anyone getting tested is reminded they should not eat, chew gum or smoke 30 minutes before taking the test.
Details of the new process are on the government website at coronavirus.gov.bm.
As I close, I remind you, we 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 because vaccination is the key to our freedom.
Thank you Minister of Health and thank you and your team for the excellent work that you continue to do as we deal with this current outbreak.
Last night the Minister of National Security, the Hon. Renee Ming and I held Facebook Live Q&A where we provided clarity on the current regulations within the Stay at Home Order. Persons who did not see that last night can view it on the Government’s Facebook page and the CITV YouTube page.
As we covered them extensively last night I will not reiterate all the regulations at this present time, though we will be happy to take questions on them from the media. However I will reiterate a few key points regarding businesses.
During the 7 day Stay at Home Order only permitted businesses are allowed to operate between the hours of 7am-7pm. Those permitted businesses are:
- Grocery stores
- Banks (limited services)
- Gas stations
- Offices of registered health professionals, clinics, hospital or other health facilities (including veterinary surgeries).
All other businesses must remain closed. We are aware that there were businesses that opened this morning that are not on this list and have since been closed. If you are not one of the permitted businesses listed in the regulations, you must remain closed while this Stay at Home Order is in effect.
Travelling to and from a permitted business is allowed, including travel to the grocery store on your designated shopping day, the airport and/or testing or vaccination centres.
For those who need to apply for Stay at Home Movement exemption please go to: forms.gov.bm – This website also lists the exemptions that are already set out in law, and you do not need to fill out an exemption form if your movement falls inside those categories, so it is a good resource if you want to understand what is and is not allowed.
For those who cannot work due to mandatory closures or they are in quarantine the uba.gov.bm website will be available for submission of applications from tomorrow, Wednesday April 14th. The website was taken down yesterday to ensure it could be updated to reflect the latest changes to the regulations and to ensure there were not erroneous submissions of information to that website.
With effect from tomorrow morning, businesses can go online to bedc.bm, the website of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, to apply for the updated and expanded COVID-19 Emergency Grants as well as updated and expanded COVID-19 Combined Loans/Grants under the Business Continuity & Sustainability Funding Programme.
The Emergency Grants will be used to cover immediate costs associated with recurring expenses including rent, utilities, social insurance, and health insurance premiums for employees.
Emergency Grant funding will be available in maximum amounts ranging from $5,000 to $7,000 per business. Businesses impacted by Public Health notice closures and restrictions back in December 2020 and January 2021, who received an Emergency Grant already, can re-apply for another Emergency Grant, however the maximum amounts available to these businesses will be 80% of the first maximum grant amount.
As we end the first day of our 7 Day Stay at Home Order, I would like to remind the country why we have taken this step. Due to the swift increase in cases over the last few weeks our healthcare workers have seen a significant increase in workload and are struggling to keep up. If we did not act this workload would only continue to increase, and our entire healthcare system would be under immense strain.
As I have mentioned in previous press conferences our healthcare system not only includes the hospital, but also includes our vaccination programme and workers, testing centres and labs, and all other workers such as our contact tracers, and frontline teams working tirelessly for the people of Bermuda.
These next 7 days will allow the following crucial steps to take place:
- Firstly, stopping the major causes of spread in the community. Mixing of households and persons mixing in the work environment while not following the precautions which have been set out.
- Contact Tracers will be able to catch-up on their current caseloads.
- We will be able to ramp up our testing regime which will include enhanced community testing with additional modes of testing as the Minister of Health has outlined.
- We will be able to expand our vaccination programme which will include new sites and increased doses administered each week as the Minister announced earlier.
By increasing the amount of vaccine doses administered each week, we will take significant strides toward herd immunity with our ultimate goal being to have the majority of the country vaccinated by the end of May. This strategy calls for continued support and cooperation from all Bermudians so that we can ensure we reach this goal.
Later this week we will hold another press conference to outline the next steps in terms of regulations. When making these decisions the Government will continue to be led by the data.
While the Stay at Home Order is expected to end after 7 days, there will still be strict regulations in place to help us to stop the spread of this virus, enable us to open businesses safely and to allow our vaccination programme to increase its pace over the coming weeks with the goal to reach herd Immunity by the end of May.
I thank all persons in Bermuda who are doing their part including those who have called 211 to report regulation breaches to the Bermuda Police Service. I encourage all persons to continue to call and inform the police if you are aware of any breaches of the regulations. Though I sincerely hope that as a country we will all come together, follow all regulations and do what is necessary to end this outbreak.
In closing, we recognise that there are many who are struggling emotionally and require additional support. For those persons, the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline is now open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm to 9pm. If you or anyone you know requires extra emotional support, please call 543-1111. Please do not suffer in silence, call the hotline and get the support you need.
Useful information on how to cope with stress, as well as a list of psychologists you can book a private appointment with can also be found on the Bermuda Psychology Association’s website: Bermudapsychology.com
I recognize staying at home does cause challenges for some who may not be in a stable position at their home. If you are in an abusive situation and need help the Centre Against Abuse offers a 24 hour helpline 297-8278 where their counsellors conduct sessions over the phone. If you have an emergency, dial 911. You do not need to go online to apply for permission to leave your home if you are suffering from abuse, it is an emergency. There are services available to support you if you are in that situation.
Before we take questions from the media this evening I would like to again thank the Minister of Health, and Dr. Ayo for joining me tonight and for the incredible work that they, and their teams are doing, and all of our frontline workers continue to do day in and day out.
As I indicated there will be another press conference later this week where we will lay out further details about what the next steps will be after we continue to analyse the data, and make sure that we are able continue this process safely while reducing the stress on our healthcare system.
Thank you for your attention and I welcome any questions you may have.