COVID-19 Update – Bermuda Government 6 April 2021
Good evening Bermuda.
I begin by offering my deepest condolences on behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda to the families of the two people who, as announced by the Minister of Health over the weekend, are the latest in our community to have succumbed to the coronavirus.
This is a harsh reminder that this virus can be fatal, and that we must do all that we can to protect ourselves and one another.
Beginning tonight our press conference format will change slightly. We will aim to give shorter statements, while highlighting the most important information to the public in regards to COVID-19.
Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson who will provide us with an update on the latest COVID-19 test results, and vaccination statistics.
Following the Minister, I will review our current status and the factors the government is taking into account when deciding whether or not more measures are required, and I will provide a brief update regarding schools on behalf of the Minister of Education who will join us at the end of the remarks to answer questions from the media. Members of the Media should note that the Minister of Education will be giving a full press conference tomorrow at 5:30PM.
We are joined by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ayo Oyinloye who can answer any medical questions from the media.
We are also grateful to have the Bermuda Hospital Board’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Wesley Miller, who can answer any questions regarding the Hospital.
First we will hear from the Minister of Health…
Thank you Premier. Good afternoon.
I echo the comments of the Premier and extend sincere condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones this past weekend.
I will now provide an update on COVID-19.
There were 731 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update and 28 were positive for COVID-19. This gives a test positivity rate of 3.8%.
6 of the new cases are classified as imported with details as follows:
- 1 resident who arrived on American Airlines AA 308 from Miami on 21 March 2021 and tested positive on their Day 14 test
- 1 non-resident who arrived on Delta Airlines DL 584 from Atlanta on 27 March 2021 and tested positive on their Day 8 test
- 4 residents who arrived on American Airlines AA 308 from Miami on 31 March 2021 and tested positive on their Day 4 test
13 of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as associated with known cases.
The additional 9 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 1497 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows.
- There are 670 active cases, of which
- 649 are under public health monitoring and
- 21 are in hospital with 6 in intensive care;
- a total of 813 have recovered, and
- the total deceased is now 14.
The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 41 years (median: 39 years) and the ages range from less than 1 year to greater than 100 years.
The mean age of all currently active cases is 41 years (median: 40 years) and the ages range from less than 10 years (age group: 0-9 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).
The mean age of all hospitalized cases is 60 years (median: 57 years) and the ages range from less than 30 years (age group: 20-29 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).
The mean age of all deceased cases is 75 years (median: 77 years) and the ages range from less than 60 years (age group: 50-59 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).
The source of all cases is as follows:
- 251 are Imported
- 998 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 906 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
- 92 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 248 are Under Investigation
As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change. Today’s update has 29 cases moving from under investigation to local transmission with known contact/source.
Of the over 200,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median: 42 years) and the ages range from less than 1 year to greater than 100 years.
The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is above 1 (1.26).
I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme.
We have completed the twelfth full week of vaccinations. From January 11to April 3, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 41,152 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 42,038 if you include yesterday’s vaccinations as well! – all of which is very good news and ranks us as 8th in the world for vaccinations.
Of the 41,152 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends April 3rd;
- 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, 37% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose), and 27% of the population has been immunised (with 2 doses).
3,364 vaccinations were delivered during the week of March 28 – April 3rd. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:
- the Vaccination Centre at Bermuda College administered 25,440 or 62% of vaccinations,
- 14,692 or 36% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre, and,
- 1,020 or 2% were administered at Other Vaccination Sites.
Significant progress has been made in vaccinating our population and, especially, our most vulnerable.
64% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination with 54% being fully immunised.
52% of individuals between 50 and 64 years of age have received at least one vaccination with 39% being fully immunised.
22% of residents less than 50 years of age have been vaccinated with at least one dose which represents 1,728 vaccinations in this age group this week. This lower overall number is what we would expect as this group falls into Phase 3 which has just been open for two weeks. Uptake among this younger age groups is strong but I want to encourage all those under the age of 50 to register to get vaccinated. At present, only 41% of those in this group eligible to register have done so.
Vaccinations are continuing at a steady pace and we are seeing both the number vaccinated and the number immunized climbing steadily each week.
These are excellent results so far, and I would like to thank all those who have taken the step to get their vaccination to protect themselves, their families and our community.
I want to remind residents that we need everyone who can, to get vaccinated! Anyone 16-years-old or older can get a vaccination appointment as we are now in phase 3. Anyone who is between 16 and 18-years-old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Priority will continue to be given to our more vulnerable populations, including seniors and those with medical conditions. If you have not already registered, please do so by completing the registration form at: vaccine.resqwest.com/web.
Please remember that you will not be vaccinated if you have travelled in the last 14 days. You MUST have a day 14 negative test result to get either your first or second dose.
Also, if you are in quarantine, do not attend your vaccination appointment. Let the Vaccine Programme know that you are in quarantine and will miss your appointment. The appointment can be rescheduled, and if it is your second appointment, it can be rescheduled up to 12 weeks from the first appointment.
Every dose of the vaccine is extremely important, so if you are unavailable to make your appointment, please call the Hotline at 444-2498 (Option #2) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also email email@example.com if you require a Vaccine Certificate.
We are doing a tremendous job administering vaccinations, now ranking 8th in the world, but we cannot rest on our laurels. The more often people take non-essential trips abroad or take unnecessary risks in group gatherings, for example – the longer it will take our community to get vaccinated and protect ourselves. This is because we cannot vaccinate recent travelers or people who are in quarantine or isolation. However, the faster we get to herd immunity, the less likely COVID-19 can get a foothold in our community and the quicker we get back to a new normal.
The question has been asked many times by members of the public whether or not people who have been vaccinated can test positive for COVID-19. If you have been immunized, the risk of you getting the disease is low but vaccinations don’t completely stop you from getting it. However, the COVID-19 vaccine does lessen the severity of the disease and its symptoms.
A person who has been vaccinated can have the coronavirus but show no symptoms or have only mild symptoms of the disease, and that person might pass the virus on to family, friends and colleagues. The research on this is still underway. However, it would appear that those who are immunised do have a lower viral load of the coronavirus. Notwithstanding, and because the science is not yet conclusive, it is important that everyone continues to follow the guidelines of wearing a mask, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance.
We each have a role to play in stopping the spread of the virus. Those of you who can, must work from home, this is the law. Keep your social bubbles limited to the people in your house.
There is testing available. The next walk-in pop up testing will take place at Horseshoe Bay Beach tomorrow from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Anyone who wants to get tested can. However, if you are in quarantine, you must not get tested before your 14 day test.
What we are finding is that people have decided they want to get a test before Day 14 and use a different name – perhaps their middle name. We ask people not to do this. The Ministry of Health staff, working closely with MDL, have discovered these attempts to get around the system.
I understand that it is tedious and it can be frustrating being in quarantine, however it is important that all the quarantine measures are followed fully to help to stop the spread of this highly contagious variant of the coronavirus.
If you have a medical emergency, please do not delay going to the hospital for fear of contracting the coronavirus. The hospital is taking every precaution to keep patients and staff safe. BHB is seeing fewer people attend Emergency than usual and are concerned that people who need Emergency care might delay going to the hospital. Dr. Miller has joined today’s press conference and can answer any questions the media may have.
I will remind people who are over the age of 65 and want to get vaccinated that they can go to the Bermuda College Vaccination Centre between 8am and 9am without an appointment. This walk-in option is available for people 65 years and older only.
Also, if you have not already, you need to download the WeHealth app, which is designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by anonymously notifying app users of potential exposure to COVID-19.
Once we have the virus under control, we can relax the restrictions, but not until we have it under control. Please, everyone, do your part to help us get this under control.
Thank you minister.
Again I thank you and your team at the Ministry of Health and all of the women & men on the frontlines working hard to help us manage this current outbreak.
Bermuda, we are at a critical stage in our battle against the coronavirus. We have seen active cases continue to rise, and with that an increase in hospitalizations and two more lives lost to this virus. At the same time we are poised to further expand our vaccination programme.
Though we acted to mitigate further spread, we are dealing with a highly transmissible variant that has transmitted rapidly prior to the implementation of the latest restrictions put in place last week.
We have learned that we do not see the full impact of an outbreak in the community until about 2-3 weeks later, which is the point at which we see increased hospitalisations. This is where we are currently. In the same measure, when restrictions are implemented we are not likely to see their true mitigation effect until at least 2 weeks after they were first introduced.
The Government is looking closely to see if the measures we have taken are having their expected effect in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and moving us to a place of a reduction of cases. We have seen evidence from previous outbreaks that these measures do work. And we have observed subtle indications that they are beginning to take effect in this current outbreak.
The 7 day average of our positivity rate of testing which saw sustained increases peaked on April 2nd, but that trend can change quickly as we saw higher positivity rates today of 3.8% which is above the 7 day average.
Our 7 day average of the Real Time Reproductive number has also started declining, from a peak of 2.47 on March 23rd, now down today to 1.26. The fact is, that is still to high, that means that the virus is still spreading in the community, and that is not a position of where we want to be.
What this means is that it appears the mitigations put in place are having their intended effect, however the situation remains delicate and can change quickly.
Now as much as ever is a time for caution, cooperation and continued vigilance.
If we do see a continuing trend of decreasing new cases, decrease in the positivity rates for testing, and a reduction in the R number, then it will confirm what we are doing now is working and therefore we must continue on this path.
The Government is focussed on making decisions based upon the data.
Some have asked if further restrictions are imminent. In response I say that the Government is determined to balance public health with safe and continued economic activity. We recognize that poverty is also a public health crisis in our world today, and that the pandemic has caused financial strain, increased anxiety and stress.
With this in mind we have no desire to increase restrictions, but as the Government, we must make the decisions that are necessary and not the ones that are convenient. If we begin to see an upward trend in case numbers and positivity rates, further measures will be implemented.
The Cabinet will meet next week to consider the latest data, to see where we are and will make announcements next week of any changes to not only, the restrictions in place but also differing measures that will be implemented at our borders.
I will now speak briefly about Education.
The Ministry of Health regulations currently in place apply to all public and private schools. There is no expectation that this will change next week, therefore, to ensure there is no disruption to learning and services, all public and private schools will transition to remote learning starting on Monday, April 12th, 2021 until at least Friday, April 23rd, 2021. The Minister of Education will provide a full update during a press conference tomorrow at 5:30pm
We can avoid having to go further with restrictions if we all do our part. In addition to adhering to all regulations, join the 22,651 people who have downloaded the WeHealth app to assist our Contact Tracers and help to end this outbreak sooner.
Continuing to increase our vaccination numbers is essential in our desire to bring normality back.
As the Minister of Health announced we have now administered 42,038 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as of yesterday. Out of that total 46% of our eligible population has received at least one dose, equating to 38% of our total population. 34% of our eligible population has received both doses of the vaccine, which equates to 29% of our total population.
I thank all of those who have been vaccinated, and all those who have registered and are awaiting their appointments. You have helped us to progress, but we still have work to do. If you have not already done so, please register and help Bermuda move closer to its goal of herd immunity with 70% of the population vaccinated and protected.
As I close, I know that this is a difficult time for many individuals, and businesses. For those who cannot currently work due to business closures or mandatory quarantine the Government is committed to supporting you through the unemployment benefit which you can apply for at: uba.gov.bm. For businesses affected by mandatory closures, if you have not already done so, you can apply for grants through the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation at: bedc.bm. There is assistance available to your business.
Also in Cabinet today, the matter of Parents unable to work due to the fact of schools being closed was addressed. That hardship isn’t lost on us, we are working on a solution and will look to discuss that more.
I also understand that there are many who are struggling emotionally, whether through stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness. 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.
To anyone who is going through a difficult time, please do not suffer in silence. There are people who are here to listen, and who want to help you if you are in 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
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My colleagues and I are now happy to take questions from the media.