MINISTRY OF HEALTH COVID-19 UPDATE MARCH 3 2021

The Ministry of Health received 479 test results since the last update, and five were positive for Covid-19. All of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.

Additionally, since the last update, there was one recovery.

There are currently 21 active cases, of which;

  • All 21 are under public health monitoring and;
  • None are in the hospital.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 718 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 685 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years [median: 40 years], and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 41 years [median: 47 years], and the ages range from less than 20 years [age group: 10-19 years] to greater than 50 years [age group: 50-59 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:

  • 211 are imported
  • 507 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 415 are local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • None are under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change. Today’s update has one case moving from under investigation to imported.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years [median:  42 years], and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real-time reproduction number is approaching 1, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

The Ministry of Health is requesting that anyone contacted as close contact with a positive COVID-19 case to cooperate and share all requested information fully. Any information provided is confidential.”

If you are contacted by one of our contact tracers, please be truthful with information as it pertains to your close contacts. We need honest information to trace and contain any potential spread. Your cooperation may well save a life,” said Minister of Health, Kim Wilson.

Once again, I will remind everyone that contact tracing is critical to ensuring that everyone exposed to the coronavirus gets tested and, if necessary, quarantined. Please cooperate with our contact tracing team. This team is trying to prevent the spread of the virus. Also, knowing your COVID-19 status is important even if we are not dealing with an outbreak. Get tested! And get tested regularly.”

Avoiding the spread of this virus is a collective effort. We have to all be responsible and do our part. Wear a mask when you are interacting with people, especially indoors. Wear a mask when you are out in public. Wearing a mask can help to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Please also continue to practice physical distancing, good hand hygiene and avoid the “three Cs” of closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.”

The Ministry of Health announced earlier that they had many COVID-19 vaccine doses available that must be used today. The public [those without scheduled appointments] was invited to take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated. Priority was given to those 65 years old and over.

I would like to thank the vaccine teams at Bermuda College and Bermuda Hospitals Board,” said Minister Wilson. “They worked diligently to successfully accommodate the numerous walk-ins alongside the scheduled appointments.”

BERMUDA GOVERNMENT COVID-19 UPDATE MARCH 2 2021

COVID-19 Update- Premier’s Remarks 2 March 2021

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Good Evening Bermuda,

Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, The Hon. Kim Wilson who will provide updates on the latest vaccination statistics, the recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases, and further updates from her Ministry.

I am thankful to have Dr. Carika Weldon is here to discuss the efforts being done by her team at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory to map which variants we have seen in Bermuda.

Following the Minister and Dr. Weldon, I will provide you with an update on the COVID-19 regulations agreed today by the Cabinet and other matters.

I am also happy to have the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ayo Oyinloye, who can answer any technical or medical questions from the media as well.

First, we will hear from the Minister of Health….

Good afternoon.

The Ministry of Health received 333 test results since the last update, and none were positive for COVID-19.  Additionally, since the last update, there were two recoveries.

There are currently 17 active cases, of which;

·         17 are under public health monitoring and;

·         None are in the hospital.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 713 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 684 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 41 years (median: 47 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-19 years) to greater than 50 years (age group: 50-59 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:

·         210 are imported

·         502 are classified as local transmission of which:

·         410 are local transmission with known contact/source and

·         92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source

·         One is under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

Additionally, during the week of 21 to 27 February, 660 saliva screening tests were conducted. Therefore, as of 27 February 2021, results have been received for 6464 saliva screenings. The mean age of all persons screened is 56 years (median:  57 years), and the ages range from less than 10 years to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real-time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme, which plays a critical role in Bermuda’s return to normal.

We have completed the seventh full week of vaccinations and the fifth week using two Vaccination Centres operating six days a week. For the seven-week period, from January 11 to February 27, Bermuda has administered a total of 20,705 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 21,387 if you include yesterday’s vaccinations as well! – which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Of the 20,705 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends February 27;

·         11,373 (or 55%) were given to women, and,

·         9,332 (or 45%) were given to men.

Bermuda’s goal of “herd immunity” will be achieved when 70% of the population (64,054) has been immunized. To date, 21% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose) and 11% of the population has been immunized (with 2 doses).

Each week since January 11 has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations administered, with 4314 vaccinations delivered last week. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:

·         the Vaccination Centre at Bermuda College (previously at the Police Recreation Club) administered 12,036 or 58% of vaccinations,

·         7,760 or 37% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre,

·         767 or 4% were administered at rest homes and long term care facilities, and

·         141 or 1% were administered at Other Vaccination Sites.

Assessed against Bermuda’s vaccination priority targets:-

In Phase 1A

·         1,703 persons or 55% of those aged 80 years and older have been vaccinated. 441 have had one vaccination, and 1,262 (41%) are fully immunized.

·         381 persons or 51% of residents in rest homes and long term care have been vaccinated. 70 have had one vaccination, and 311 (42%) are fully immunized.

·         1,365 health care workers or 56% have been vaccinated. 221 have had one vaccination, and 1,144 (47%) are fully immunized.

·         1,393 essential workers or 59% have been vaccinated. 403 have had one vaccination, and 990 (42%) are fully immunized.

In Phase 1B

·         4,523 persons or 48% of those aged 65 – 79 years have been vaccinated. 1,590 have had one vaccination, and 2,933 (31%) are fully immunized.

These are excellent results so far, and I would like to thank all those who are getting their vaccination to protect themselves, their families and our community.

 

Government House has informed the Government that Bermuda will receive another 15,000 doses of the vaccine later this month. This is great for our vaccine programme as we are receiving more and more persons who are registering their interest to be vaccinated.

I would like to remind residents that we are currently in Phase 2 of Bermuda’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy.

Phase 2 is for residents who are 50 years or older, have been diagnosed with heart disease, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, have a disability, are of no fixed abode or essential travelers – persons who must travel for medical purposes or to return to school.

If you fit the criteria for Phase 2, please register for an appointment by completing the registration form at forms.gov.bm/covidvaccine.

Also, we are in the process of making appointments for the remaining persons who are 65 years-old and older who registered online but have not yet been vaccinated. We encourage all those in that group to continue to register as they will be prioritized in the booking system, along with all who are medically vulnerable.

If you are not able to access the registration form online, ask a friend, neighbour or family member to help register you online, or you can call the vaccine hotline on 444 2498 and select option 2.

With regard to the numbers of persons who have registered interest.

For the week ending February 27th, 20,877 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:

·         5,068 Black

·         9,704 White

·         2,404 Mixed or Other, and,

·         3,701 Prefer not to say or Not Specified.

For those of you who have registered already – thank you, and please encourage your family and friends who may be in the priority groups to register. The COVID-19 vaccination will prevent you from becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus. The more people who are vaccinated, the harder it will be for the virus to spread in our community. Please remember that there are those in our community who cannot get vaccinations because of health issues. Our immunization protects them.

I must also remind people that you cannot get your vaccination if you have travelled and not yet received your 14-day negative test or if you are in quarantine. And you must wear a proper mask or face covering – no neck gaiters please– when you attend a vaccination centre.

As previously announced, there will be changes to the guidance for persons who are immunized.

Most immediately, I can inform the public that persons who are immunized are able to travel to Bermuda and, with two negative COVID-19 test results (pre-arrival and on arrival at the airport), may dine indoors, go to work, visit a bar or nightclub, and go to the gym. However, they are still subject to the full testing regime, which includes tests on days 4, 8 and 14.

If the traveller does not have a pre-arrival test, then the two negative test results needed will be on arrival and day 4.

All immunized persons must practice workplace isolation, which means, if you are a teacher, for example, do not eat in the staff room. Keep as much separation between you and others as much as possible until you have completed your day 14 test.

For students in households where adults are immunized and have been travelling, they will be able to continue to attend school. They will not need to be in quarantine at home.

For more information regarding these changes, please check the website at gov.bm/coronavirus.

With respect to Bermuda’s ‘country status’…

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, reduced Bermuda from Level 4 (COVID-19 very high; travellers should avoid all travel to these destinations) to Level 3 (COVID-19 high; travellers should avoid all non-essential travel to these destinations). That was encouraging news but is not quite where we want to be.

However, even this will be in jeopardy if we cannot control and eliminate new cases of COVID-19 on our shores.

Recently, Bermuda has gone from 9 active COVID-19 cases, where 8 of the 9 are imported cases, to 17 active cases where 8 are imported, 8 are local transmission, and 1 is under investigation. This happened in just two weeks.

These new cases represent an emerging outbreak, and they appear to be linked to one of the more transmissible variants, most likely the UK variant.

As investigations into this emerging outbreak continue, the number of cases has also increased, and the risk of transmission that increases with large gatherings of persons presents a clear and present danger. With the increase in locally transmitted cases of Covid -19, we felt it prudent to amend the Regulations as it relates to curfews.  This will help to minimize the time where people may be socializing together in close proximity to each other and in closed-in spaces. Also, as we know, increased alcohol consumption can lead to poor judgment calls and slips in protective health measures.  The Ministry’s contact tracing investigations strongly suggest that it is social mixing or gatherings of people that are most likely to produce local transmissions and positive cases.

Last week I advised members of the public that individuals who attended house parties over the weekend of February 19th, should arrange Covid-19 testing as soon as possible.

As I have stated previously, concerning the issue of “close contacts”, I want to reassure the public that their information will be kept private.  It is used only for outbreak investigation. Having said that, I would like to ask persons who are contacted by one of our contact tracers to please be forthcoming with information as it pertains to your close contacts. We need this to be able to trace any potential spread … your cooperation may well save a life.

Outbreaks occur when members of our community choose not to follow public health guidelines and measures – and they are making a deliberate choice. The result is outbreaks of COVID-19 which can have, and have had, a devastating impact on our economy and way of life. The wider community does not deserve to be placed under more strict public health measures because of the actions of a few.

Every single one of us has a responsibility to adhere to the public health guidelines as they help stop the spread of disease. They are not difficult: wear a mask, physically distance and avoid the “three Cs” of closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.

Bermuda, we cannot have another spike in positive cases. You will recall that last November there were three events at two venues over one weekend, which resulted in more than 80 people testing positive and more than 550 people being placed in quarantine. Many of those persons who were required to isolate and or quarantine, were financially disadvantaged due to their inability to go to work. We cannot go back to that.

As I said previously, contact tracing is vital to ensure all persons possibly exposed to the coronavirus are tested and, if necessary, quarantined. I urge the public to co-operate with our contact tracing team. Their work is vital in preventing the spread of the virus. Also, knowing your COVID-19 status is important even if we are not dealing with an outbreak. Get tested! And get tested regularly.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind funeral homes, churches, restaurants, event planners – anyone hosting services and events – that, by law, they may be liable to prosecution pursuant to the Public Health (COVID-19 Emergency Powers) Regulations 2021 as a host of, as well as being a part of, an assembled group that exceeds the gathering size permitted by the Regulations. There is a fine of $6,000 for the first offence and $10,000 and or a prison term of three months for a second or subsequent offence.

As always, Bermuda, please continue to follow the public health measures and guidelines put in place for our collective safety. Continue to wear your mask and practice physical distancing. And get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Thank you.

Thank you Minister…

You and your team at the Ministry of Health have worked extremely hard to increase the pace of vaccinations in Bermuda, while managing the pandemic. With the collective efforts of the Ministry of Health, nurses, doctors, vaccination centre and Public Health staff, and volunteers, Bermuda has remained among the top countries in the world (6th according to ourworldindata.org) for vaccinations administered per capita, with 21,387 total doses administered as of yesterday.

This includes a continued increase in vaccine doses administered week on week, with 22% more doses administered this week than last week, in addition to the 24% increase, which I reported last week. As I have said previously, we are in a marathon and not a sprint. These statistics will show that our efforts are making a difference in getting more eligible persons vaccinated and that we are consistently moving towards our goal.

I want to say before I move on, well done to all those involved, the Minister of Health, the Chief Medical Officer, and everyone else who is a part of this vaccination effort. The volunteers, people who are getting persons to the vaccination sites, those who are checking up, it is an incredible effort, and we should all be very proud of the work we have achieved over the past seven weeks.

Vaccinations are important, but we must also continue to know the threats that face us today as the coronavirus remains a threat to our wellbeing as a society. Now we will hear from Dr. Carika Weldon, who will speak to the work that Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL) has been undertaking to investigate the coronavirus variants on our shores.

Dr Weldon…

Good Evening Bermuda,

I am pleased to share with you a summary of Bermuda’s current testing of the recent coronavirus variants.

To recap, the last update I delivered in January, I was able to share initial findings from the first batch of viral genome sequencing results conducted by Public Health England (PHE). This included 21 samples from cases between October 27th – November 18th.

Initial analysis of the results showed that 8 different strains were identified, with all being imported from the US, UK and Asia. None of the UK strains were the new UK variant strain that caused the lockdowns in the UK late last year. Both strains identified at that time were both common strains circulating in the UK since March 2020.

Oxford nanopore sequencing will be performed on island once all supplies arrive. In the meantime, we have been able to send 10 samples to CARPHA and will be sending a further batch of 50 samples to PHE next week.

A new rapid variant PCR test has become available that allows for identification of variants within 1 hour, as opposed to a week via sequencing. This test looks for signature mutations that are specific to the variants in circulation right now. Once a variant is identified we will still sequence the sample for confirmation.

The rapid PCR test Bermuda has can detect the following mutations:

a. 69/70 amino deletion, found in the UK variant only

b. E484K mutation, found in the Brazil and South Africa variants,

c. N501Y mutation found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants.

d. V1176F mutation specifically found in the Brazil variant.

Our screening assay looks at the deletion, 484 and 501 mutations simultaneously and allows us to tell if samples are the normal strains (ones which are not of concern), or the UK, Brazil or South Africa variant.

As of last Wednesday, MDL commenced rapid PCR variant testing of 365 cases from October 6th – March 1st.

We have identified the UK and South Africa variants in Bermuda, but not the Brazil variant.

The breakdown is as follows:

1. 326 are normal strains, including all linked to the outbreaks Bermuda experienced at the end of last year. We will sequence all of these to determine which normal strains they are.

2. 1 Denmark cluster variant, which is not a variant of concern but does have the similar deletion to the UK strain.

3. 35 are the UK strain. The first UK variants arrived on the December 13th BA flight. Up until January 14th all UK variant cases were imported from the UK via BA flights. From January 17th until February 20th UK variant was also imported from the US, via Miami and NYC. There was no evidence of UK variant in any local transmission cases until the month of February.

4. 1 South Africa variant imported on January 13th via the Miami.

5. 2 are inconclusive and will be determine via viral genome sequencing.

From all this new emerging data, one thing we can say that we have successfully managed the UK strain for the last 2.5 months and should all be proud that when we follow our public health guidance from the Ministry of Health, it is effective.

I am also immensely proud of all the young Bermudians working at MDL who have learned this new skill in record time and have made this data available in under 1 week. I also want to highlight upcoming biomedical scientist Keizhari Knight who managed this project extremely well.

Moving forward, MDL will routinely check new cases via rapid variant PCR testing and confirm through sequencing to understand how if any further mutations have occurred on island, and aide epidemiological investigations.

As we soldier on with this fight against COVID-19, let us continue to all do our part by following the guidelines that have gotten us all this far.

Thank you.

Thank you Dr. Weldon.

On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I thank you and your team, who have been at the forefront of our battle against the coronavirus. It has been wonderful to see young Bermudian scientists doing such important work for the country.

To hear that that important work has now expanded, with our young scientists determining which variants are here on the island is inspiring. I also commend Keizhari Knight and all of the team at MDL for their incredible work; you have made us proud.

There are some who wish to criticize the work of the MDL. But as a leader of the Government, I’m proud of the decision to support this lab. As Dr. Weldon would recognize, and as all of us know, we are not 100% perfect. Recognizing that the vast amount of tests that have been done for the lab, a little bit more than 160,000 since this pandemic has begun, in addition to the excellent work they are now doing regarding identifying variants, sets Bermuda apart and gives us more tools in our arsenal. So I want to thank you and congratulate you on your work and your efforts.

Both the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Government Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory team have worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that we have the tools to tackle this pandemic. But from the very start, I have always stated that it only takes one person to set us as a country back. One person to cause harm to our economy. One person who can set off the chain of events that will have more students getting set back on their education by not being able to go back to school. One person who can cause a chain of events that can cause an outbreak that can put persons in the hospital or, unfortunately, lead to more dire consequences, as we have seen recently.

Despite our hard work and our progress to date, I am disappointed that we have recently seen a rise in active cases due to what seems to be a single event. This increase is further evidence that COVID-19 is still a threat and can easily spread if persons do not follow the regulations that the Government has implemented to manage the impact of the coronavirus in our country.

This includes the protocols in place at our borders and the traveller continuum, which requires persons who are not vaccinated to follow specific guidelines until testing negative on day 14. It is imperative that travellers follow these guidelines until the end to protect themselves and others. We came under immense criticism for requiring travellers to wear wristbands, and the fact that persons would be at an event with these wristbands in contravention of the rules that have been put in place is careless. And those who hosted them are reckless as well, putting themselves and others at risk.

What is more concerning, as Dr. Weldon has indicated, is that the single event and our current outbreak is of a version of the coronavirus that is known to be more transmissible – that of the UK Variant.
Last week I advised that the Government will not hesitate to reimpose certain regulations if necessary to protect public health. Today, as recommended by the Ministry of Health, and with the support of the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee, the Cabinet has agreed to the following:
·         Curfew will be reimplemented from 12 am-5 am, due to the current outbreak of the new UK strain.

·         Due to the re-imposition of the curfew – All businesses will be required to close at 11 pm

All of the other existing regulations will remain:
·         Maximum number of persons for group gatherings in a public or private setting is 25.

·         Outdoor funerals can be attended by up to 50 persons

·         Indoor funerals can hold up to 25% of the maximum capacity for the venue in which they are held.

·         Table size in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs remains at ten persons

·         Boat curfew will remain at 8 pm.

·         Bar service is not permitted at liquor licensed establishments. Table service only.

The curfew of business closures by 11 pm and changes will come into effect tomorrow. Therefore this evening is the last night without curfew. Changes to the public health regulations that will take effect tomorrow, and therefore as of Wednesday night curfew has been set back to midnight, 12 pm. All measures will be reviewed, and an update will be provided again in two weeks’ time.

The Government takes no joy in re-implementing such measures. I take no joy in re-implementing such measures. However, we will continue to do what is necessary to control any outbreaks so that we can contain the coronavirus on our shores.  We learned our lesson in November, and we will not make the same decisions as we did then now. We have learned, and we will act quickly when there are outbreaks to ensure that we can constrain any outbreaks so that they do not lead to further disruption.

As a country, we must not let the freedoms we enjoy allow us to forget that we all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and our fellow Bermudians safe. Though we may go about our individual lives every day, the battle against the coronavirus is one that we must continue to face together.  One set of careless people can have an impact on the wider segment of the country. It is unfortunate, but this is where we are. This outbreak is real, and we will take the measures necessary to control it.

We must focus on our vaccination programme, and any wider outbreak will take us away from our vaccination programme into outbreak prevention. We must keep our schools open so our students can learn and not be further set back in their educational pursuits. That is the priority of the Government of Bermuda, and we will continue to make decisions that are in that best interest.

Many Bermudians have asked, especially on social media, about what kind of summer season we can expect to have, the types of activities to be enjoyed, and which events they may be able to attend.

The answer to that is determined by our actions today. What we do during the weeks and months leading to our summer season will influence our circumstances for the upcoming summer.

If we want to enjoy our summer and all that Bermuda has to offer, we must ensure that we remain sensible and vigilant in our decision making so that we can eventually put the pandemic behind us.

After tonight, the COVID-19 press conferences will move to every other week. The Minister of Health and I will be back with you on Tuesday, March 16th. Until that time, we ask that all Bermudians remain mindful of the presence of coronavirus. Ensure that any event you attend, establishment or home that you enter, is adhering to the appropriate regulations and not putting anyone at risk. Let’s continue to work together to keep each other safe.

As I conclude, I know that many in our community may need extra emotional support. If you need someone to talk with, call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline. The phone number is 543-1111. The line is operated Monday to Saturday, from 5pm – 9pm.

Again, the phone number is 543-1111. Please call as help is available.

To get accurate, reliable and timely information, sign up for the Government’s WhatsApp service. Add the phone number 504-6045 to your contacts and send us a simple message saying ‘hi’, and you will receive WhatsApp updates from the Government.

Additionally, you can get Government updates by downloading the Treefrog app – go to the App Store or Google Play, in the search bar, type in Treefrog Bermuda and download the free app today.

I want to remind members of the public that as you go about your daily lives, use the tools that the Government of Bermuda has procured. If you are going out to an event, if you’re going out to restaurants, if you’re going anywhere to a gathering, install the WeHealth app so that you can be notified of possible exposures. It is vital. It is important. It is completely private. It can run if your phone only has Wi-Fi, or it can run if your phone has regular mobile data. Download it, use it and please make sure to do your part to help us keep Bermuda safe.

Thank you.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH COVID-19 UPDATE MARCH 1, 2021

COVID-19 Daily Release 1 March 2021

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Good day.

The Ministry of Health received 1385 test results since the last update, and six were positive for COVID-19. Five (5) of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases. The additional new case is classified as under investigation. This case is a resident with no currently identified link to other known cases or a history of travel in the past 14 days.

Additionally, since the last update, there were no recoveries.

There are currently 19 active cases, of which;

  • 18 are under public health monitoring and;
  • One is in the hospital, with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 713 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 682 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 44 years (median: 48 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-29 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalized case.

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:

  • 210 are imported
  • 502 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 410 are local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • One is under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

The Ministry of Health has recently developed a new page on the Government portal dedicated to separating fact from fiction when it comes to getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The new page can be found at https://www.gov.bm/covid-19-vaccine-fact-vs-fiction.

“There are misleading claims about the COVID-19 vaccine and getting vaccinated,” commented Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP.

“This new web-page breaks down the facts vs the fiction and provides accurate information, which is important. People need to know that the COVID vaccine is our most promising tool in ending this pandemic. They must be guided by science and facts, not speculation and misinformation.”

“The COVID-19 vaccination will prevent you from becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus. The more people vaccinated, the harder it will be for the virus to spread in our community,” stressed Minister Wilson.

“I am grateful that so many people have signed up and are getting vaccinated. When it is your turn to get vaccinated, please do not arrive too early for your vaccination appointment, as it disrupts the schedule and may cause delays for others. Please also remember to bring a photo ID. If you have travelled within 14 days of your vaccination appointment, you are not eligible to be vaccinated.”

For question, please visit our Vaccine FAQ’s at gov.bm/vaccines or email us at: vaccine@gov.bm or call the COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at 444-2498 and select option #2.

If you fall within the groups we are currently prioritizing for the COVID-19 vaccine, you can register your interest in taking the vaccine by completing the registration form through https://forms.gov.bm/covidvaccine or by calling 444-2498, option #2. The hotline hours are 8:30 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday and 9 am – 1:30 pm on Saturdays.

Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport – Return to Play Guidelines

Sports Minister Reminds About ‘Return to Play’ Guidelines

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

~ And Minister cautions no test, no play ~

As Bermuda prepares to return to competitive local sports, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, Dr. the Hon. Ernest Peets, JP, visited one of the COVID-19 sports testing centers to assess the progress.

The public will be aware that the Ministry created the Return to Play Guidance for Sports, which is a step by step document that outlines the process for the resumption of sports in Bermuda.

One of the requirements for the resumption of contact sports is for athletes to take a saliva test. This is required to participate in Stage 3 and Stage 4 activities of the Return to Play Guidance.

Contact sports are currently in Stage 3 and are being progressed to Stage 4 on the basis of test take-up.

One sport with 95% of members tested has been moved to Stage 4.

Only athletes who confirm that they have a negative test result are able to participate in Stage 3 or 4 activities.

This should be monitored by the clubs alongside their regular COVID-19 checks.

Minister Peets said, “Contact sports bring a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, therefore the Government requires adults wishing to participate in Stage 3 and 4 sports (contact sports training and competitive play) to undertake a saliva COVID-19 test and repeat every 28 – 30 days.

“I want to emphasis that for health and safety reasons if an athlete does not comply with the testing requirements, then participation in the competitive sports will not be possible.”

The Minister continued, “Additionally young persons and children aged 11 to 17 who participate in contact sports are strongly recommended to be tested. Individual clubs and National Sporting Governing Bodies may determine whether to require it. Children aged 10 and younger can be encouraged to test also.”

The Minister went on to say, “As someone who engages in competitive sports, I also participated in the required testing. The saliva test is non-invasive and easy to self-administer. There are no health risks associated with the test, and it is provided free of charge by the Government of Bermuda.

“Athletes must register to take the test so their kit can be prepared and they can receive their test results. A video link and written instructions will be provided to demonstrate how to use kit.

“Once registered, communication on how and when each sport will test will be provided through collaboration between the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, the National Sports Governing Bodies and clubs/teams.

“However, sufficient registration is required in order to book a testing date. So athletes are encouraged to register at the earliest opportunity so a test date can be set up.”

Minister Peets concluded, “The Ministry wishes to assure the public that the test results are fully confidential. Only the patient, the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and Ministry of Health authorized officers will know the results. In the event of a positive test result, the patient’s physician will also be informed.

“If a sample is positive, the patient’s physician or the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit will be in touch with the patient to communicate the result and provide guidance on isolation, management and testing.

“Again, in order for us to successfully resume contact sports in Bermuda, the Ministry encourages all athletes and the parents or guardians of young athletes to be familiar with the Return to Sport Guidance and the testing recommendations and requirements.”

The Minister ended by saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of Bermudian life – sporting, cultural and entertainment events have been likewise severely impacted. Bermuda has come a very long way in controlling COVID-19 to save lives and minimize the impact to our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the public and the sporting sector for their patience, collaboration and willingness to do the right thing for sport and for the country.”

All Guidance can be found at https://www.gov.bm/guidance-governing-sporting-bodies-affiliating-clubs-teams-and-sporting-events.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH COVID-19 UPDATE FEBRUARY 26TH

COVID-19 Daily Release 26 February 2021

Friday, February 26th, 2021

 

Good day.

The Ministry of Health received 443 test results since the last update, and two were positive for COVID-19. The first new case is one resident who arrived on AA 308 from Miami on 20 February 2021 and tested positive on their day four test. The second new case is classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with a known case.

Additionally, since the last update, there were no recoveries.

There are currently 13 active cases, of which;

  • 12 are under public health monitoring and;
  • One is in the hospital, with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 707 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 682 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 41 years (median: 36 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-19 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalized case.

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:

  • 210 are imported
  • 497 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 405 are local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • None are under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

The Ministry of Health cautions the public that there were a few social gatherings last weekend where there may have been a COVID-19 exposure.

“We continue to recommend that people do not attend large gatherings. The pandemic is not over, and we must do everything we can to stop the spread. I strongly recommend that all persons who attended any social gatherings this past weekend to arrange to get tested as soon as possible,” advised Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP.

“The COVID-19 test is accurate for that point in time, so the sooner you get tested, the better to avoid exposing others if you are positive for the coronavirus. People should identify themselves to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) team by calling call the COVID hotline on 444-2489 (option #1) if they believe they have been in contact with an exposed person, and quarantine for 14 days in the case of exposure to a positive case.”

“Please note that information shared with ESU is for public health action only and will not be shared with any other agencies.”

Anyone requiring COVID testing can book through gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins at any of the testing sites, and starting next week, all the community testing sites will have the same operational hours from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Minister Wilson also urges residents and visitors to download the WeHealth app to help reduce the spread of the virus. “Downloading the WeHealth Bermuda app is an easy step but a significant one in helping control the spread of COVID-19 in Bermuda. All Bermudians and visitors to the island should download the app from the App Store or Google Play. WeHealth Bermuda is a free smartphone application that provides anonymous COVID-19 exposure notifications. It is one of the most sophisticated apps available anywhere in the world for helping to control the spread of COVID-19.”

“We also wish to clarify that the restrictions on the Travellers’ First 14 Days have not been removed for immunized travellers as yet. The full Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to discuss the fine details of the requirements for immunized travellers. This will be announced at Tuesday’s press conference.”

MINISTRY OF HEALTH COVID-19 UPDATE FEB 25, 2021

COVID-19 Daily Release 25 February 2021

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Good day.

The Ministry of Health received 404 test results since the last update, and two were positive for COVID-19. Both new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.

Additionally, since the last update, there were no recoveries.

There are currently 11 active cases, of which;

  • Ten are under public health monitoring and;
  • One is in the hospital, with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 705 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 682 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 43 years (median: 48 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-29 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalized case.

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:

  • 209 are imported
  • 496 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 404 are local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 92 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • None are under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.  Today’s update has one case moving from under investigation to local transmission with an unknown contact/source.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

“We understand that various house parties occurred over the weekend, where there may have been a Covid-19 exposure.  All persons who attended any house parties this past weekend are advised to book an appointment to get tested as soon as possible. In the meantime, you should quarantine and monitor for symptoms of Covid-19,” said Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP.

“Bermuda is doing well in keeping our number of positive COVID cases low and making progress with our vaccination programme. However, I must remind everyone not to become complacent and do not let your guard down. This pandemic is not over.”

“We must remain vigilant and follow the protocols to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in our community. We must continue to stay safe by taking some simple precautions. Wear a mask, physical distance, avoid crowds, keeping rooms well ventilated, thoroughly cleaning your hands, use hand sanitiser, and cough into a bent elbow or tissue, not into your hands.”

“Get tested at one of our convenient testing centres to know your status. There is no cost, and it is a quick and easy process. Anyone requiring COVID testing can book through gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins at any of the testing sites, and starting next week, all the community testing sites will have the same operational hours from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.”

“Once again, a special thank you to our health professionals who have reached out to volunteer their time and services at the vaccine centres. Some are volunteering close to 20 hours a week or more which is an incredible investment and support in our mass vaccination programme.”

MINISTRY OF HEALTH COVID-19 FEBRUARY 24 2021

COVID-19 Daily Release 24 February 2021

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Good day.

The Ministry of Health received 417 test results since the last update, and none were positive for COVID-19.

Additionally, since the last update, there was one recovery.

There are currently nine active cases, of which;

  • Eight are under public health monitoring and;
  • One is in the hospital, with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 703 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 682 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 44 years (median: 48 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-29 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalized cases.

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:

  • 209 are imported
  • 493 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 402 are local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 91 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • 1 is under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

The Ministry of Health would like to thank everyone who has reached out to offer assistance with administering vaccinations.

 

“We have received overwhelming support to help with vaccinations and are so grateful for the help,” said Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP.

 

“We are currently bringing additional persons on board to assist as the number of residents being vaccinated continues to rise. Offers of help have emerged from a broad range of the allied professions; from dentists and vets to advanced EMTs and retired nurses. Again, we are grateful to the community for rising to the assistance of the Ministry of Health.”

 

“I would also like to reemphasize that persons who require a COVID-19 outbound travel test, please do not show up for testing the day of or the before travel,” said Minister Wilson.

“For an outbound COVID-19 test, you must book yourself through one of the community sites at Penno’s Wharf, Bull’s Head or Star of India, at least two days before the date you plan to leave Bermuda. This meets the 72-hour rule imposed by the US, UK and Canada, and gives the MDL lab time to process your results. Do not get the test the day before travel or on the day of travel as this leaves no room for unexpected delays. Some people who have booked at the last minute have missed their flights.”

Anyone requiring COVID testing can book through gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins at any of the testing sites. Starting next week, all the community testing sites will have the same operational hours from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

BERMUDA GOVERMENT COVID-19 UPDATE FEB 23 2021

COVID-19 Update – 23 February 2021

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Good evening Bermuda,

Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson who will provide you with updates on the latest vaccination statistics, the Bermuda Health Council Drug Formulary Regulations 2021, and further updates from her ministry.Following the Minister, I will discuss the extension of the Public Health Emergency, the Cannabis legislation, the upcoming 2021/2022 Budget, and other matters.

First, we will hear from the Minister of HealthThere were 240 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update and none were positive for COVID-19.

There were no recoveries.Bermuda has 703 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows.There are 10 active cases, of which

  • 9 are under public health monitoring and
  • 1 is in hospital with none in critical care;
  • a total of 681 have recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains at 12.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years) and the ages range from less than 1 year to greater than 100 years.The mean age of all currently active cases is 43 years (median: 41 years) and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-29 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalized case.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:

  • 209 are Imported
  • 493 are classified as local transmission of which:
  • 402 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
  • 91 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
  • 1 is Under Investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the more than 170,000 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.

Additionally, during the week of 14 to 20 February, 681 saliva screening tests were conducted. Therefore, as of 20 February 2021, results have been received for 5804 saliva screenings. The mean age of all persons screened is 58 years (median:  59 years) and the ages range from less than 10 years to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than 1 and Bermuda’s current country status is “Sporadic Cases”.

I must emphasise the public health measures put in place over the Christmas and New Year period, and since then, were critical in controlling the most recent outbreak. Having all residents and visitors adhere to these measures was what enabled our country status changed from “clusters of cases” to “sporadic cases”. We have provided the necessary information to the Centres for Disease Control to aid in a reassessment of our destination health risk level. Currently, we are classified as Level 4 (COVID-19 risk is very high) but our metrics put us at Level 1 (COVID-19 risk is low).

For those who are travelling, I will remind you, again, that if you need outbound COVID-19 tests you must book yourself in for outbound travel testing via one of the community sites at Penno’s Wharf, Bull’s Head or Star of India at least two days before the date you plan to leave Bermuda. This meets the 72-hour rule imposed by the US, UK and Canada, and gives the MDL lab time to process your results.

Do not get the test the day before travel or, worse, on the day of travel as this leaves no room for unexpected delays.You can book through: gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins.Also, starting next week, all the community testing sites will have the same operational hours of 10.00am to 4.00pm.I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme, which plays a key role in Bermuda’s return to normal…

We have completed the sixth full week of vaccinations, and the fourth week using two Vaccination Centres operating six days a week. For the six week period from January 11 to February 20, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 16,377 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 17,073 if you include yesterday’s vaccinations as well! – all of which is an impressive achievement.Of the 16,377 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on which ends February 20,

  • 9,028 (or 55%) are women, and,
  • 7,349 (or 45%) are men.

Bermuda’s goal of “herd immunity” will be achieved when 70% of the population (64,054) has been immunized. To date, 18% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose) and 7% of the population has been immunized (with 2 doses).

Each week since January 11 has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations administered, with 3,804 vaccinations delivered last week. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:

  • The Vaccination Centre at Bermuda College (previously at the Police Recreation Club) administered 9,373 or 57% of vaccinations,
  • 6,119 or 37% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre,
  • 744 or 5% were administered at rest homes and long term care facilities, and
  • 141 or 1% were administered at Other Vaccination Sites.

Assessed against Bermuda’s vaccination priority targets:-

In Phase 1A

  • 1,605 persons or 51% of those aged 80 years and older have been vaccinated. 638 have had one vaccination, and 967 (31%) are fully immunized.
  • 373 person or 50% of residents in rest homes and long term care have been vaccinated. 72 have had one vaccination, and 301 (41%) are fully immunized.
  • 1,303 health care workers or 53% have been vaccinated. 347 have had one vaccination and 956 (39%) are fully immunized.
  • 1,316 essential workers or 56% have been vaccinated. 596 have had one vaccination and 720 (30%) are fully immunized.

In Phase 1B

·  4,193 persons or 44% of those aged 65 – 79 years have been vaccinated. 2,533 have had one vaccination and 1,660 (17%) are fully immunized.

These are great 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 would like to remind residents that we are now in Phase 2 of Bermuda’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy.Phase 2 is residents who are 50 years or older, have been diagnosed with heart disease, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, have a disability, are of no fixed abode or essential travelers – persons who must travel for medical purposes or to return to school.If you fit the criteria for Phase 2, you should register for an appointment by completing the registration form at forms.gov.bm/covid.If you were eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1A and 1B group and have not registered yet, please do so today. If you are not able to access the registration form online, ask a friend, neighbor or family member to register you online or you can call 444 2498 and select option 2. The Ministry of Health’s appointment process will ensure that you keep your priority status.

I know that callers have been having difficulty getting through. Please know that the system upgrades are completed now and additional staff are being put in place to answer your calls. This is important, so if you don’t succeed the first time, please try again. The volume of calls is high and we have expanded the hours of operation to accommodate this. The Vaccine Hotline is open from 8.30am to 5.00pm Monday – Friday, and 9.00am to 1.30 pm on Saturdays.

With regard to the numbers of persons who have registered interest… To the week ending February 20, 19,389 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 4,445 Black
  • 9,208 White
  • 2,124 Mixed or Other, and,
  • 3,612 Prefer not to say or Not Specified.

For those of you who have registered already – thank you and please encourage your family and friends who may be in the priority groups to register.

The Ministry of Health is starting to see the positive results, and a true measure of the effectiveness of vaccines, in data being reported from around the world. Countries, like Bermuda, that have implemented aggressive vaccination programmes are now seeing decreases, and in some countries, dramatic decreases, in the numbers of persons infected with the coronavirus and the numbers hospitalised.

That is the type of beneficial outcome we are anticipating for Bermuda as we vaccinate more and more people.This does mean not we can stop the other public health measures that we have  – please, continue to wear your masks, practice physical distancing, employ good hand hygiene and download the WeHealth Bermuda app, even if you are now immunised.I am also pleased to announce a partnership with the Ministry of Health and Age Concern Bermuda to provide assistance to their members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.Starting next Monday March 1, adults aged 50+ who require assistance with transportation to their scheduled vaccine appointment can call Age Concern on  238 7525 to arrange free transportation. In order to receive this free service, individuals must have already registered and received their vaccination appointment. The transportation is being provided by Project Action and will include travel to and drop-off after your vaccination appointment, and is good for travel to vaccinations at both the Hospital and the Vaccination Centre at Bermuda College.

These types of partnerships are vital as we must all work together to ensure that everyone who wants to be vaccinated, has the opportunity to do so.  Across the world, experts agree that transitioning beyond this pandemic depends on the prevalence of immunity, especially among older and more vulnerable populations. The single most important thing we can do as individuals to achieve the population-wide immunity that slows down the virus’s spread is to get vaccinated. If we don’t, we risk additional outbreaks that will come at a terrible cost, and this is not something that we wish to experience.

As announced last week, there will be changes to the Travellers’ First 14 Days for immunized persons from next week. We recognise these changes will most immediately impact persons seeking to dine indoors, go to the gym, play contact sports and the like. They will also impact other public health guidance such as the ‘return to work’ and ‘return to school’ policies. Until the amendments to public health guidance have been thoroughly reviewed and agreed by Cabinet – which will be next week – nothing has changed! If you are immunized now, you must continue to adhere to all the public health guidance which was in place before you were immunized and which continues to be in place now.

On Friday of last week, I tabled amendments to the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004 to bring about important and overdue changes to the high cost of medications faced by many Bermudians.

The Progressive Labour Party promised Bermuda in the 2020 Party Platform that we would establish a National Drug Formulary that will set maximum pricing for common essential medications, which reduce costs to consumers.

The purpose of the Bermuda Health Council Amendment Act 2021 that was tabled, is to support the function of the Council in regulating the price at which drugs are sold to the public by establishing in law the Bermuda Health Council (Drug Formulary) Regulations 2021.

The objective is not to control the price of every medication sold in Bermuda. Rather, the Bermuda Drug Formulary will comprise the list of common essential medications such as Metformin (used for type 2 diabetes) and Prednisone (used in the treatment of arthritis, blood disorders, cancer and eye problems), along with associated products and devices used in medical treatments, which are intended to be medically appropriate, cost-effective and sold at a regulated price.

This pandemic has highlighted the struggles of those in our community who are uninsured and underinsured, and establishing a drug formulary to at least place price controls on common essential medications will help.

Before I close, in my remarks last week, there was some conflicting information about the numbers vaccinated in the over 80-year-old group. We reported that 1834 were vaccinated for coverage of 59%.

The number in today’s report of 1605 vaccinated for 51% coverage is correct, and last week’s number was 47%. I apologise for this reporting error.

As always, please continue to follow the public health measures and guidelines put in place for our collective safety. Continue to wear your mask and practice physical distancing. And get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Thank you.

Thank you, Minister….

I thank you and your team for your tireless work on the frontlines of this pandemic. Through your efforts and the efforts of the doctors, nurses, Public Health staff and volunteers at our vaccination centres, we are getting closer to our goal of having 19,000 persons fully immunized by March 31st.

With 17,073 doses administered through yesterday, Bermuda remains among the top ten countries (according to ourworldindata.org) in the world for vaccinations administered relative to population size. What is most important is that the number of doses administered increased this week by 24%, which demonstrates that the move to the Bermuda College has had its intended effect of increasing the pace of our vaccination program.

While this is very welcomed news, it is vital for all Bermudians to understand that this is not a time to let your guard down. We have all worked hard to put our country in a place where curfew can be removed, and measures can be relaxed. Let us not undo that hard work by neglecting our collective responsibility to adhere to the measures still in place.

As we know, it only takes one person to start an outbreak, and it is vital that we remain vigilant. Please ensure that you continue to follow the regulations, specifically the regulations governing the amount of persons that can gather. In addition to that, the regulations which are necessary and required for mastering physical distances to ensure that you are doing what is necessary to reduce the potential spread of a virus.

Failure to adhere to these measures endangers the community and the progress we have made. I want to be clear that the Government will not hesitate to reimpose measures such as curfew if it is deemed necessary in the interest of public health.

Now I know that there is some commentary in the public domain that the Government has been heavy handed in its approach. Let me address those criticisms this way. I would prefer to be criticized for being heavy handed than to be criticized for having excess debt and endless lockdowns, which can be seen in other countries. Bermuda has not had a shelter in place, which ended at the beginning of last May; we have not had to shut down non-essential businesses with the exception of bars and nightclubs since the previous outbreak.

Whereas we’ve seen in many different countries, whether that be in the United States, whether it be the United Kingdom, Europe, whether it be the Caribbean, or other places where we have seen a significant amount of restrictions, which have happened, and have continued.

Our heavy handed actions preserve economic activity and allowed the opportunity for limited tourism in this country for people to earn a living. That is a record that I’m proud of, and for persons who criticize the Government for being heavy handed, unfortunately I must disappoint you because we have choices to make. And this Government is going to make sure that we choose the side of ensuring that we keep the country safe while striking the balance to allow economic activity to continue.

Last Friday, February 19th, during the first session of the House of Assembly in 2021, the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson recommended a 60-day extension of the Public Health Emergency Order. This was passed in the House on Friday and yesterday was approved by the Senate. The Public Health Emergency is therefore extended until April 25, 2021, and at which time we will assess whether further extensions may be needed.

Also during the House session, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs & Constitutional Reform, the Hon. Kathy Simmons led the debate on the Cannabis Licensing Act which was originally tabled in December 2020. This Act ushers in a new regulatory regime, licensing all activities involved to cultivation, import, export, production, research, sale, supply, use or transport of cannabis or medicinal cannabis in Bermuda. This Bill was brought to the House of Assembly after an extensive consultation process with the experts in health, law enforcement, and finance.

The Government also consulted the public throughout the development of the Cannabis Licensing Act to ensure that it reflected the desires of the Bermudian people. The feedback the Government received was that there was a desire for change to our cannabis laws which would permit licensing and regulations for cannabis activities to displace the illicit market.

Regulation and licensing will ensure that Bermuda benefits economically from the cannabis industry. It will also ensure that it provides easy and simple access to medicinal cannabis, which is right now, very difficult due to our complex regulations.

The Government is committed to ensuring licensing is accessible to those Bermudians who have been negatively affected by cannabis prohibition, the majority of whom are black Bermudians.  The Government anticipates they will take the opportunity to use their expertise to open businesses, conduct research and contribute to this newly regulated sector of our economy. I thank the Attorney-General and her team for their outstanding work in preparing this Bill, and I look forward to the Bill’s progress the Senate next week.

I also thank the Members of Parliament for the Progressive Labour Party who were encouraged to speak and vote with their conscience rather than in line with the party.

In keeping with developments in the House of Assembly regarding our economy, the Minister of Labour, the Hon. Jason Hayward introduced the Government’s Economic Investment and Residential Certificate policy. There has been much said about this policy, such as it is nothing different from what previous Governments have proposed, which may have been opposed by the party of which I represent.

While it is correct that the Economic Investment Certificate is not new, this policy contains significant changes from the previous requirements that were in place which solely benefited wealthy persons who wished to live in Bermuda. Previously wealthy persons who wanted to live in Bermuda indefinitely would only have to pay a $525 a year fee for a Residential Certificate and were not required to make any investments in Bermuda. This new policy will require wealthy persons who wish to reside in Bermuda to make an economic contribution to the country. These changes ensure that more Bermudians can benefit from wealthy persons who choose to reside here by requiring them to support our economy’s well-being.

This coming Friday, February 26th, the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Curtis Dickinson will present the 2021-2022 Budget to the House of Assembly and the people of Bermuda. It will no doubt be a budget greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the substantial economic impact it has had on our country. The Budget will outline the Government’s focus on rebuilding and diversifying our economy and keeping our promises from the 2020 election platform, and the 2020 Throne Speech.

As I wrap up, we know that many in our community may need extra emotional support. If you need someone to talk with, call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline. The phone number is 543-1111. The line is operated Monday to Saturday, from 5pm – 9pm.

Again, the phone number is 543-1111. Please call as help is available.

To get accurate, reliable and timely information, sign up for the Government’s WhatsApp service. Add the phone number 504-6045 to your contacts and send us a simple message saying ‘hi’, and you will receive WhatsApp updates from the Government.

Additionally, you can get Government updates by downloading the Treefrog app – go to the App Store or Google Play, in the search bar, type in Treefrog Bermuda and download the free app today.

Thank you.

UPDATE FROM MINISTRY OF NATIONAL SECURITY FEBRUARY 22 2021

Ministry of National Security Update, 22 February 2021

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Good afternoon:

I wish to provide an overview of the ongoing work being done in the Ministry of National Security.

More specifically, I wish to highlight the work of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation (DRRM) Unit and the Gang Violence Reduction Team (GVRT).

First the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation (DRRM) Team.

During these many months of uncertainty, particularly during the pandemic, hurricane season, the island-wide BELCO blackout, and most recently during the winter storms – our DRRM Team have worked tirelessly to assess the national risks and effectively coordinate targeted and tiered emergency responses.

The critical information they provide both to the Government and the Ministry allows us to make the right and necessary decisions to ensure that our residents are kept safe.

And with the lifting of the curfew, it’s timely that I share some key updates with the public regarding some of the regulations that are still in effect.

Following the lifting of the curfew, we naturally expect that residents will want to move around the island more; this includes frequenting restaurants and bars and engaging in more social and recreational activities.

But I want to urge our community to continue to make responsible and sensible decisions.

While the curfew has ended, the pandemic hasn’t.

And there is still a need for our residents to exercise caution to protect themselves, their families, their loved ones and friends.

In fact, I want to take this opportunity to commend the public for their cooperation during the curfew, as their compliance was a major reason as to why Bermuda’s COVID-19 numbers declined following the surge last November.

That said, however, there are some restrictions that remain in place and they are as follows:

  • While the curfew ended last Thursday on land, a curfew for recreational boating remains in effect.
  • All recreational boating must end at 8.00 pm.

An important note regarding the regulations:

  • Large Group Gatherings are still limited to 25 persons.
  • For an indoor service or ceremony in a church or other religious establishment, the number of persons who can gather is limited to 25% of the indoor area’s full capacity.
  • For the number of persons at an outdoor service or ceremony (including weddings and funerals), the number cannot exceed 50 persons.

In addition to the regulations, the Ministry of National Security is not accepting large group applications for funeral wakes, wedding receptions, birthday parties and other such events, at this time.

We will however, review the policy on March 9. 

As it relates to sports events, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport recently provided an update regarding the Return to Play Sports Guidance.

For our part the Ministry of National Security will consider applications for increased numbers of persons to participate in sports events such as road running races only when PHASE 4 of the Return to Play Guidance has been implemented.

The DRRM Team continues to work with our private and public sector partners to assess, advise and mitigate against threats and risks.

This includes:

  • Working with our partners at the L. F. Wade International Airport to update the contingency plans that are required at all commercial airports;
  • Working with the Departments of Health, Marine and Ports, the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and the Ports Authorities to review the safest way to implement the return of cruise calls to Bermuda; and
  • Reviewing and updating our cybersecurity protocols and best practices.

The DRRM also has oversight for the operation of the Emergency Broadcast Facility (100.1fm). I understand that several members of the public tune in to this station, as such, I wish to advise that the Broadcast Facility will shortly be relocated to the new Prospect Radio Tower. It is expected the radio station will be off air for two weeks at the end of February and the beginning of March whilst this move takes place. Once this is complete the public will be notified.

Turning to GVRT and the invaluable work being done by the team.

As a Ministry and a Government, we know there is still much work to be done in the area of reducing violence in our community.

We pledged in our Throne Speech that we will work towards bringing lasting calm to Bermuda’s communities.

In order to do this, we have been utilizing our existing mechanisms to address gun, knife and gang violence – this includes continuing with initiatives such as:

  • The GREAT Programme, which restarted with the resumption of schools last year; and
  • The Redemption Programme which also restarted last year with a new cohort of trainees.

While the work of the GVRT is mostly done behind the scenes, the impact that they have in the lives of our young people, families and neighborhoods is unquantifiable.

What has been evident is that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant socio-economic challenges for a large portion of our community.

What we’ve come to understand is that social and financial instability leads to stress and added tension.

And added tensions can often lead to anti-social behavior and violence.

The GVRT continues to be an important force in tackling gang violence.

The Team’s multi-pronged approach, strategies and methodologies have proven to be quite effective within the various communities.

Their proactive measures within the subcultures are very systematic.

As an example, the team first identifies the past, present and future challenges.

These could range from mental health issues, emotional trauma, or socio-economic challenges that have disadvantaged many in at risk families and vulnerable neighborhoods.

The team’s overall objective is to assess and provide critical support to the valued individuals whom they engage with.

This involves, but is not limited to such measures as providing food and/or food vouchers, medical assistance, or shepherding them to the relevant organizations that can assist with meeting their various needs.

Through our Redemption Programme, the GVRT provides job placement as well as vocational skills training. The plan was to have 13 trainees in the program however, due to many of the jobs that we partnered with having to downsize their staff, they were unable to take many of our trainee’s.

We currently have 8 individuals who are now taking part in the latest Redemption Programme training.

The outreach to the primary, middle and high schools is also an important focus for the GVRT.

In the primary schools we have implemented programmes that encourage our young people to express their thoughts and concerns while, at the same time, empowering them to have a positive view of themselves.

And the GVRT conduct innovative interventions focused on group dynamics as well as individual sessions in our schools.

I am also pleased to advise that in partnership with clinical, social and education professionals, the GVRT will embark on several pilot programmes to assist our young people.

These include initiatives that focus on anger management, cognitive therapy, mood therapy, behavioral therapy and parenting classes.

The GVRT also continues to conduct restorative justice forums in our schools and throughout the community.

The Team’s goal is not only to bring peace and harmony within the various communities, but to assist with the development of specific plans to help our vulnerable young people, individuals and families so that they can be thriving members of society.

In closing, the GVRT have provided our affected communities with much needed emotional support, counselling and emergency services during these times of hardship.

For our part, the Ministry of National Security will continue its priority of supporting the GVRT in its efforts of tackling the root causes of crime and working towards reducing violence in our community.

We are also thankful for the work of the DRRM Team who have embraced their work under often, short timelines. As with the Gang Violence Reduction Team, the Ministry of National Security will continue to support the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation Team.

Thank you.

Ministry of Health COVID-19 Update February 22, 2021

COVID-19 Daily Release 22 February 2021

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Good day.

The Ministry of Health received 1400 test results since the last update, and four were positive for COVID-19. All four new cases are imported cases from Bermuda residents returning to the Island. One new case is a resident who arrived on AA 308 from Miami on 6 February and tested positive on their day 14 test. The second new case is a resident who arrived on AA 308 from Miami on 14 February and tested positive on their day four test. The third new case is a resident who arrived on Jet Blue B62231 from New York on 16 February and tested positive on their day four test. The fourth new case is a resident who arrived on AA 308 from Miami on 18 February and tested positive on their arrival test.

Additionally, since the last update, there were two recoveries.

There are currently ten active cases, of which;

· Nine are under public health monitoring and;

· One is in the hospital, with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 703 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 681 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years) and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 43 years (median: 41 years), and the ages range from less than 20 years (age group: 10-29 years) to greater than 70 years (age group: 70-79 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the hospitalised cases.

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:

· 209 are Imported

· 493 are classified as local transmission of which:

· 402 are Local transmission with known contact/source and

· 91 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source

· 1 is Under Investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 170,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one, and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.

The Ministry of Health is reminding the public that we are in Phase 2 of the vaccination programme.

“Phase 2 is for anyone 50 years or older, an essential traveller (medical or school travel), persons with heart disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, for example, as well as those with disabilities,” explained Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, JP, MP.

“If you are in Phase 2, please register your interest by using our online form, which allows residents to register their interest easily, efficiently and conveniently.”

“Any residents who are in Phase 1A & 1B, and Phase 2, and are interested in getting the vaccine as soon as possible should go to https://forms.gov.bm/covidvaccine.

“It is a short form, and the information you enter will be kept private. However, please remember that registering your interest does not guarantee you an appointment at this time. The vaccine is being allocated based on medical need. All submissions will be reviewed by our medical personnel and prioritised based on their assessments. Your submission will be kept on file, and you will be contacted as appointments become available.”

As well, the Vaccine Hotline hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm, Saturday 9 am – 1:30 pm.”