25 April COVID-19 Update
On Friday and Saturday the Ministry of Health received 223 new test results; of which ten were positive for COVID-19 and 213 were negative.
Bermuda’s total confirmed positive cases is now 109, as follows:
- there are 65 active cases, of which:
- 54 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
- 11 persons are hospitalised;
- 39 have now recovered, and
- the total deceased remains at 5.
The average age of persons hospitalized remains at 74, and ages range between 57 and 91 years. The average age of all confirmed positive cases is 59, ranging from 18 to 95 years.
All of the ten new positive cases were found at Westmeath and in this instance all ten cases were residents. There were 74 tests conducted at the drive through testing facility for essential workers, and all 74 tests were negative for COVID-19.
The Minister of Health the Hon. Kim Wilson JP MP said, “There have been questions regarding why we did not release these figures at last night’s press conference. The answer is that it would have been unethical and insensitive of us to release them publically before ensuring that the affected persons and their families and doctors were informed first. We cannot rush the correct process to satisfy the thirst for information. I ask those who are critical of this approach to imagine how you would feel and react if your family member were a resident in a care home and you heard on the news there was ‘x amount’ of positive cases there. You would, quite rightly, worry that your loved one may be among those numbers. It creates unnecessary worry during an already stressful time.
“This is why I was so disappointed last night to see that private information that was known only to a handful of people outside of the Ministry of Health was leaked to the media and one of our local news outlets had reported this information prematurely. This action shows a complete lack of regard for patient confidentiality and sensitivity to residents, families and staff on behalf of whomever leaked this information to the press.
“We are not hiding anything; we have been transparent from the beginning whenever there is a public health threat regarding COVID-19.
“I also wish to address why we did not alert the public when we had our first positive case which was traced to Westmeath. As stated by the Chief Medical Officer, that case did not involve a resident, was appropriately contained and, in fact, as it turned out, this case was not linked to the second or third cases. We do not want to create unfounded fear among or stigma towards any facility. Investigations were carried out and risk was appropriately contained after the first case. When and if there is a public health risk in any setting, the Ministry of Health will inform the public through official channels.
“Also, there have been many questions asked by the media which may indirectly disclose the identity of positive cases. This is a risk we simply cannot take. Public health reporting relies on a foundation of trust between the public and public health officials. If people feel they cannot trust public health officials to protect their identity and information, they will not be truthful in their reporting. With all medical information, there is patient confidentiality that the Ministry of Health and the Government as a whole must protect and respect.
“As we are a very small community it is very easy to identify persons and so even names of organizations would make it easy to identify a person. We adhere to the policy of not sharing the granular details of outbreak investigation and case management. This is public health ethical practice. The public needs to know that we safeguard their privacy throughout our investigations. The investigation must be allowed to unfold. In response to symptomatic residents or staff, case management starts immediately; those who need to be communicated with are contacted right away.
“Also, I want to make it clear why all residents and staff at Westmeath were not tested after the first and second positive case was traced to Westmeath; it was because the characteristics of the case did not warrant testing at the time. When these occurred, the case criteria, which is linked to testing capacity, were not met.
“Since that time, Bermuda’s testing capacity has been significantly bolstered and the Government’s policy is to test all residents and staff at all rest homes, which is being done now. Residents and staff at four rest homes have been tested, and all rest homes will be completed to ensure that we identify any possible outbreaks in our homes.
“Testing is one of a handful of public health actions that occur at the identification of a case. Ordinarily, the procedure is to assess the actual history, the history of attendance at the rest home, the history of inter mingling between a case, and the residence or other staff and the determination is made what is appropriate in the way of testing. As the Chief Medical Officer explained, there is not a knee jerk, or automatic reaction if you identify an individual staff member, that one should test everyone in the facility, or everyone who works at the facility.
“Regardless of testing, when a positive case is identified in any setting, the indication is that there should be a case investigation, which is done in every instance. And then the determination is made as to who is appropriate to test. Public health action takes place immediately. Public health action doesn’t start when testing starts. Public health action includes isolation of a suspected case, assurance that the investigation proceeds quickly so that anyone exposed, through contact tracing, is then assessed and anyone exposed might need to be tested.
“I would also like to differentiate between the role of the Government and the role of a care home in dealing with communication to residents and family where there is an outbreak of infection in a privately owned and operated care home.
“The Ministry is in constant communication with the homes to make sure they are following the stipulated standards and requirements, and enact any given guidance.
Either the resident’s GP or a doctor associated with the home would be notified with the testing results and the doctor would then inform the resident and/or their family members.
“In the case of private care homes, the Government’s role is a regulatory one, requiring the registration of care homes, prescribing standards and providing oversight, support, and guidance. The Ministry does not directly communicate with the families of care home residents; that is the responsibility of the care homes.
“Lastly, there have been questions regarding concerns of a shortage of nursing home staff during this pandemic. I can report that the Bermuda Health Council and the Nursing Council have a substitute list that will assist with placing staff should the homes require additional staff.”
COVID-19 modelling data – 24 April 2020
The numbers generated through this model cannot be interpreted as predictions of what will occur during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Rather, they should be treated as estimates of what might happen, based on the assumptions used in generating these estimates and the modelling strategy used. The model aims to provide decision makers with potentially useful but heavily caveated information that will be refined as more information becomes available. The point of the model is not to predict the future, it’s to influence it, help us prepare for it and choose a good course of action.
Our analyses on COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and testing can be found at the links below:
Last Press Conference Before Bermuda Shelters In Place
(Click on image below to watch press conference)
This afternoon I am joined by His Excellency the Governor, the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and Dr. Cherita Rayner from the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute.
I will give a brief update and turn it over to the Minister of Health to discuss testing items, then His Excellency the Governor will speak on the shipment from the United Kingdom and the flight that is coming in. The Minister of National Security will then provide an update on the operational matters governing the Shelter in Place order and then finally, Dr. Rayner will discuss matters dealing with our health and well-being during this time.
I would like to preface my COVID-19 update today with some good news. News that reassures us that in the midst of this crisis there are many people in private businesses in our community demonstrating kindness and compassion. They are doing things to better our lives.
I would like to publicly acknowledge the kindness and compassion of one of our good corporate citizens. Earlier today I received an email from Ms. Judy Gonsalves, Division President of Chubb Bermuda. Chubb has generously supported the needs of front line essential healthcare services by funding the monthly rental costs for Twizzys, to help essential personnel who do not have transportation to get to and from work. They have donated $52,000 to Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust foundation to assist with additional equipment, including ventilators.
I would also like to recognize the generosity of PwC Bermuda, who earlier this week made a donation of $50,000 to the Bermuda Community Foundation Emergency Fund, and have committed to providing surplus laptops to the Bermuda public school system.
Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic. Bermudians have seen their lives, disrupted and changed in ways that we could have never imagined just a few months ago. Social distancing, a concept many of us have never heard before, has now become the new norm in social interaction and many of us have seen jobs and or incomes disappear.
Today, I can confirm that there are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bermuda to report at this time. As there are no additional test results received by the Ministry of Health. There are 33 outstanding tests. Out of the 35 confirmed cases, 14 persons have fully recovered and four remain hospitalized in stable condition.
At this time the Minister of Health will provide further details on the testing that is taking place, and additional supplies, which we’re expecting to bolster our testing regime.
Minister of Health’s Comments.
Thank you, Premier.
As we enter into the next 14 days, I want to echo the Premier’s words of reassurance and remind the community that we are all in this together. We are all facing hardships of some kind in the days ahead.
But the price to pay if we do not; is too great to bear.
We only get one chance to do this and do this right…to stop this virus in its tracks…to ensure our health system is not overwhelmed…to save lives.
We go into this half-heartedly, and lives will be put at risk; businesses and restaurants will be closed longer; our economy will take a greater hit and families will continue to be apart.
The health of our community is in your hands. Please be compliant. Isolate immediately if you get ANY respiratory symptoms; call your doctor and stay in your own home.
Another point that I want to stress is specifically for those individuals with chronic diseases: Please manage your chronic conditions so that you don’t run into complications during this period. Take your medications and comply with your doctor’s instructions fully so that you don’t need additional care or hospitalization during the next two weeks.
Also, I want to remind the public that doctors’ offices are exempt from the impending movement restrictions. Doctors’ offices will not be closed…although some may be operating with restricted hours and services. We do not want a situation where our hospital has a flooded Emergency Room.
International guidance supports the opinion that maternal health, child services, immunization services, acute illness visits and chronic disease management are services which should continue.
This brings me to modified clinic services at the Hamilton Health Clinic during the next two weeks…
The public are advised that there will be no walk-ins at this time. All visits are by appointment only.
For minor ailments in children as well as child and adult immunization contact 278-6460. Appointments will be available Monday to Friday at the Hamilton Health Centre from 8.30am to 11.30am.
‘Well infant’ checks will take place from Monday to Friday 2pm until 4pm at the Hamilton Health Centre by appointment only. The contact number is 278-6460.
For the Maternal Health Program, contact 278-6441. Again, all visits are by appointment only.
- Antenatals will be seen Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30am to 12:30pm.
- TDAP immunizations will take place Friday mornings from 8:30am to 11:30am.
- Contraceptive injection clinic appointments will be on Tuesdays from 8:30am to 11:30am and Fridays (2pm-4pm).
For the Communicable Disease Clinic, contact 278-6442. Testing will be carried out by appointment only from Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 11:30am; while consultation and medication collection will take place Fridays from 8:30am until 11:30am. Again, all visits are by appointment only.
For community Health Nursing services contact 292-3095.
Regarding testing capability, with the generosity of Roche Bermuda’s supply of two additional testing instruments along with two laptop operating systems to run them, there will be the additional capacity to conduct tests in Bermuda. This will heavily ramp up our testing program as we will be looking to add to our current testing facility to offer more widespread screening of our population to combat this viral outbreak. With the additional testing supplies scheduled to arrive on the BA flight next week, we will be able to test approximately 2,000 persons. Public Health England, through Crown Agents, have indicated that they will provide this same level of testing capabilities to Bermuda on a weekly basis.
An additional testing centre will be set up and validated according to WHO guidelines, not only to assist the national diagnostic efforts, but also to expose our Bermudian university students who are already educated in the field, and have previous laboratory experience, to what is certainly an emerging field of work. This new laboratory will be under the direction of Dr. Carika Weldon. The new machines and test kits will arrive on Monday on our already announced AirBridge BA flight.
I want to thank my team at the Ministry of Health who have been working tirelessly over the past 12 weeks to ensure the impact of COVID-19 to our island is minimized as much as possible.
My staff really have been working long hours – evenings and weekends without break – to do this work.
We have stressed that social distancing is vital to containing covid. I have remind everyone that to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in grocery stores, the below recommendations should be implemented:
- Maintain a physical separation of 6 feet from other shoppers.
- Use store hand sanitizers entering and leaving the stores.
- Avoid cash transactions as much as possible and use a delivery option if available.
- If you bring your reusable bags, sanitize them first.
- Pack your own groceries so that fewer hands have touched your purchases.
- Only buy what you need.
And finally, if you have the responsibility of caring for vulnerable persons in their own homes, there are several actions you need to take immediately to protect yourself and those you care for, to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Practicing safe, effective hygiene for the protection of your client and yourself.
- Staying at home if you are sick.
- Preparing a plan for back up care providers for times when you are ill.
This is because seniors, healthcare workers and persons with chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or frailty are at higher risk for illness from COVID-19 disease.
Please look at the guidelines posted on the Government website for full details.
Thank you and stay safe and well, Bermuda.
Thank you, Minister of Health, and I would like to echo the comments from the Minister of Health with thanks to the team inside of the Ministry of Health for all of their incredible dedicated work.
Members of the media should note that you’ve been used to these press conferences, which are taking place, but because the Ministry of Health has been doing so much work on going to make sure that our next press conference will not be until Monday. So while we actually start the Shelter in Place there might be a little bit of rest and relaxation for the very, I would say overwork team at the Ministry of Health.
They’re busy preparing reports for me on a daily basis to keep us updated, but I think that we all need to make sure we have some downtime to recollect ourselves as the Minister always reminds us that this is a marathon and not a sprint, and we will be dealing with this viral outbreak for some time.
Government House and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been working with the Government of Bermuda’s London Office and the Ministry of Health to bring back stranded Bermudian students and residents in addition to procuring additional supplies.
His Excellency the Governor will now speak more about this flight which is confirmed for Monday, and the support from Public Health England.
HE Governor’s comments.
Thank you, Governor.
The Ministry of National Security, our Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment have played a critical role in helping our community to preserve law and order throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I now call upon the Minister of National Security to provide an update on the implementation of the Shelter in Place order.
Minister Of National Security Comments Summed Up
The Emergency Powers [COVID-19 Shelter in Place] Regulations 2020 have been posted online, with the regulations stating that “except as permitted by these Regulations, no person shall leave his home at any time of the day or night from 6am on 4 April 2020 until these Regulations cease to have effect.”
The document states, “A person may leave his home during the curfew for the following purposes only, and provided appropriate social distancing is maintained at all times.
- Essential visits to a permitted business, during the hours of 7am to 7pm only
- Essential medical appointments, during the hours of 7am to 7pm only [except for an emergency situation or scheduled appointment outside that period]
- For a walk or run, alone or with one other member of the same household, for a maximum period of sixty minutes per day during the hours of 7am to 7pm only, remaining at all times within a distance of one kilometre [half a mile] from his home;
- To assist elderly or vulnerable relatives or neighbours, during the hours of 7am to 7pm only [except for an emergency situation]
“For the avoidance of doubt, a minor child of parents who do not live together shall remain at the home where the child is living on commencement until these Regulations cease to have effect.
“Persons listed in Schedules 1 and 2 are exempt from the curfew, but only when on official business, working or travelling to and from work, and all such persons shall carry identification at all times and show to an enforcement officer on request.”
Some other extracts from the regulations:
- “During the curfew, a permitted business may open between the hours of 7am to 7pm only [except for a hospital or other health facility].
- “A permitted business which is a retail grocery store or pharmacy may make deliveries to customers between the hours of 7am to 7pm, subject to compliance with directions published by the Minister of National Security on the website www.gov.bm/ coronavirus.
- “During the curfew no person shall visit any other person’s home or allow any person to visit his home, except as provided by regulation 3(2)(d);
- “No person shall operate a boat or jetski for any recreational purpose during the curfew, except for an emergency situation.
- “Graveside funerals are permitted with a maximum of ten mourners, plus the officiant and funeral home staff, provided appropriate social distancing is maintained at all times
- “During the curfew—no person shall visit any other person’s home or allow any person to visit his home, except as provided by regulation 3
- “No person shall access any public beach, park [including the Railway Trail] or playground during the curfew
- “A person who fails to comply with any of these Regulations commits an offence and may be arrested without warrant, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 or a term of imprisonment of six months, or both
In addition to these official regulations, Minister of National Security Wayne Caines announced this evening that grocery stores, pharmacy and gas station visits will be done on specific days according to your surname, which apparently does not start until Monday – the actual Shelter in Place order starts at 6am on Saturday.
Thank you, Minister Caines and I’d like to extend thanks of Bermuda to Minister Caines, his team at National Security, and the COVID-19 EMO, the Bermuda Police Service and the Royal Bermuda Regiment for their service during this difficult time.
Many of our fellow Bermudians were already facing tremendous stress before the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that the past few weeks of uncertainty, reduced incomes and the inability to move freely around our island during the evenings, have added to that stress.
The 14 days of Shelter in Place will be difficult for many of us. Support has been put in place to help families during this difficult time. And at this time I’ve asked for Dr. Cherita Rayner of the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute to speak on how we can each cope with a shelter in place requirements and the resources available to assist, if at any point, any of us need additional help and support.
Dr. Rayner’s comments noted phone numbers that can be called at this time for assistance.
Mental Health Crisis line: 239-1111
Community Mental Health Clinic Triage Nurse 8am-8pm: 249-3432.
Afterhours Resource line: 249-3258
Child and Adolescent Services Community hotline – 249-3370
Child and Adolescent Services main line Mondays to Fridays. 9am-5pm: 239-6344
Turning Point: 239-2038
Thank you, Dr. Rayner.
Now I’m going to give a few closing remarks while actually covering topics of an emerging homemade mask industry in Bermuda. The flights repatriation flights for persons from the United States, and closing comments.
Just as a note on an update from the Ministry of Public Works that the public drop off at Tynes Bay they will close for two weeks beginning at 7pm tonight. Remember the objective of Shelter in Place is for people to stay at home as much as possible. Regular trash collection will continue. but the objective is for persons to stay at home.
Two weeks ago, Mrs. Sheila Tyrrell called me to suggest that we could help ourselves by producing our own face masks. As a sewer herself, she started this initiative with the intention to provide masks for her family and friends, and later decided to get the Government on board with the idea of having persons, making masks locally.
The idea is that this is an open community initiative to get people to be creative and make some really cool masks for their immediate household and friends, and possibly others. A team comprising Miss Tyrrell, her daughter Keisha and two Ministry officers, Miss Georgette Trott and Miss Trina Bean had been leading this initiative.
The message is that we are all in this together and to encourage people of Bermuda to make masks for their friends and families. The masks can be made from items already at home, such as old bedsheets pillowcases, t-shirts, as long as they are 100% cotton.
There are some places where they require a mask to be worn by persons outdoors and though the science is emerging in what we would encourage persons if they do have masks and if they are going out shopping during the week that they should look to wear them. To be clear, masks will not protect you from contracting or receiving the coronavirus. What mask will do is if you happened to be an asymptomatic spreader, will prevent you from possibly spreading those to other persons. And I think that’s an important distinction. Wearing a mask does not mean that you should not wash your hands, should not means you should not use hand sanitizer. You should do it in addition to all the other things of which you are currently doing.
There are how to videos online on how to make the mask and we are going to post one to the website coronavirus.gov.bm, should budding seamstresses wish to try their hand at making them.
Also, while doing this research the team discovered that there is a thriving cottage industry in Bermuda already, where several seamstresses have been making and selling masks for weeks. We have some examples on display this afternoon, and you will readily see that there are some very creative and colorful examples.
So far, we have identified four entrepreneurs who have sold hundreds of masks already, and we are sure that there are others who are doing so. We are happy to provide their contact details for those who may not have access to a sewing machine or a family member who knows how to use one and those will be posted to the government website. They are Miss Gay Simmons, Qui-Ja Fabrics, Miss Carla Souza at Revive Boutiik, Dr. Dena Phillips and Miss Gina Flood at All Things Sassy. Yes, we are entering into a period of Shelter in Place, but I’ll be speaking to the Minister of National Security to figure out how we can make sure that we can get an exemption so that persons may be able to provide these masks at supermarkets, during our Shelter in Place.
The Ministry of Tourism and Transport advises that Travel Edge, working with the Bermuda Government, the US Consulate and Delta Airlines has arranged for Bermuda residents and US Nationals to be flown home. At 10am on Tuesday, 7 April, a charter flight will depart from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Hollywood International Airport bound for Bermuda. The flight is then scheduled to depart Bermuda for Atlanta, Georgia, later that day. There will be additional information released this evening from the Government on this charter flight, however tickets are currently priced at $1,000.
Bermuda residence in the United States who ordinarily reside on the island and US Nationals in Bermuda, who wish to return home are advised to take advantage of this opportunity and book this flight directly with Travel Edge. Please contact Pat Trott at email@example.com or call 299-8717, and as noted there will be a release from the Government that is going to go out this evening, which provides that particular information.
As I stated previously, there is not any regular scheduled commercial air traffic, out of the airport during the month of April. So if you’re a US citizen who would like to return to the United States, or if you are a Bermuda resident who is looking to return home, then please take advantage of this flight.
As a reminder, you will be required to be in a government quarantine facility for 14 days upon arrival. And we have been informed that Delta Airlines will not let anyone board the flight who is exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.
Before I end, I want to encourage everyone that for accurate and reliable information on COVID-19, please use the government communications channels as your source. In addition to the website coronavirus.gov.bm. The official social media channels, CITV, either on YouTube or on your televisions at home. The Government of Bermuda has created a WhatsApp broadcast system, where you can send a message to subscribe for information to be delivered directly to your phone. To sign up, all you need to do is WhatsApp ‘hi’, to 504-6045, and add that number to your contacts list. Since this communications channel has launched 1,500 Bermudians have subscribed and are receiving direct updates from the Government of Bermuda.
In closing, as a government, we have approached this pandemic not from a place of wishful thinking, nor from a place of fear. We have recognized the cold hard facts of this situation, and with the advice to our medical professionals have treated this as a war for the very survival of our country.
Yet through it all, we have all surveyed hopeful that through decisive and reasoned action, we will emerge from this global pandemic even stronger and more resilient as a people. Tomorrow, life will change dramatically for Bermuda. The declaration of a state of emergency, the first in over 40 years, and the institution of a Shelter in Place order for 14 days from 6am, this Saturday represents a new necessary level in our collective war protect the health and safety of our community.
Each of us now has a choice. We can take these days and be selfish, disregard the laws in place to protect all of us, and place yourself and others in jeopardy. We can take these 14 days to engage in unhealthy behavior or binge watch Netflix. If we make any of these choices, we will still emerge no better, no stronger, and no wiser than when we began the Shelter in Place Order.
Instead, let us choose to do what we can and all support each other to use this time in a positive and productive manner. The world post COVID-19 will be unlike anything we have seen. Some economists are warning that the global economy will be as bad,if not worse, than experienced during the height of the Great Recession.
Some of the jobs that had been lost, may be lost forever. Some of the skills that have provided an income for ourselves and others may cease to exist. I encourage each of you to use these 14 days wisely. If all of us see this as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to evolve and to strengthen, we’ll be better positioned as a people for a post COVID-19 world. If all you’ve gained from this time is weight, that will be unfortunate.
Take advantage of the internet’s resources, learn a new skill, train, work, grow. Yet growth does not have to be limited to enhancing skills. It can be used to deepen your spirituality, strengthen ties with loved ones, or do those chores around the house that you haven’t had a time to tackle, or simply use this as a time to refresh, renew and rejuvenate for the days to come.
Someone recently said to me that I had become your Premier in one of the most difficult times in our country’s history, and they remarked that they did not envy the burden that myself or our government has had to collectively bear. I can say that I have never been more humbled than I am today for the opportunity you have given me to serve. The days ahead may be uncertain. The future may seem darker than light, and the work to do seemingly impossible, but I know that I am not alone and none of us in this tiny island are alone.
Thank you. Be safe. Be well, be blessed. And let us all work together to ensure that Bermuda emerges from this a stronger, better, smarter, and positioned to set an example for the world.
Press Conference April 2nd, 2020
Today I’m joined by the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Education.
My remarks today will cover my daily update, regarding test results for COVID-19, I will then discuss a few matters relating to the upcoming state of emergency and the existing curfew round the Shelter in Place measure which has been put into place by the Government of Bermuda, commencing on Saturday and also the Minister of Education will an update on the Ministry’s plans for students next week.
The Government did receive additional test results today. Out of the 36 test results received today, there were three positive cases for COVID-19, and 33 negative test results that were received. This means that the confirmed positive cases in Bermuda now stands at 35.
Out of those 35 persons, it is important to note that 11 persons have recovered. Out of those 35 persons, there are four persons now that are hospitalized and all of those persons are listed in stable condition. So again, we have 35 total cases, there are 11 persons that have recovered, 24 active cases and of those 24 active cases four persons are hospitalised.
Out of the cases, 22 overall, the 35 reported, 11 were local transmission and two were under investigation. Out of the three new confirmed cases. Two of them were imported, and one is under investigation.
One of the confirmed cases arrived in Bermuda, on the British Airways flight on the 18 March. The other arrived on the Delta flight DL561 on the 18 March, 2020. If you’re on either of those flights on the 18th of March, your quarantine period ended yesterday, 1 April 1. If you are feeling fine and have no symptoms, continue to either practice social distancing, remain in your house, and observe the self-quarantine guidelines.
If you have respiratory symptoms such as a persistent cough or even a mild fever or a sore throat, please contact your doctor. Alternately, you can prior to contacting your doctor, you’re welcome to go to the website is listed here, coronavirus.gov.bm, and look under resources, where you will find a symptom checker which has been released by the Bermuda Hospitals Board. So you can look to see whether or not you may have, or had the symptoms of the coronavirus.
When you talk to your doctor explain that you were on one of the mentioned flights, and you would like medical guidance, please as I say all the time, do not go to a doctor’s office or the hospital, call ahead.
Currently, there are 1,206 persons that are under self-quarantine with public health supervision. A review of our overall testing numbers, states that out of the 261 tests that we’ve conducted, as we know that 35 are positive, and 204 were negative. The rest of the results are pending results.
Regarding the curfew. I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of people in Bermuda understand the importance of the curfew and are in their homes by eight o’clock pm. The Bermuda Police Service today reported that there was one curfew breached last night, and that person was detained and held at the Hamilton Police Station and released after curfew.
It is important to note that the exemptions, can be found for anyone who’s requesting an exemption for curfew at forms.gov.bm/covid19/curfew. Or you could just visit the coronavirus.gov.bm website, and you will find the link to the exemption request for there.
Yesterday I announced the Government will be instituting a Shelter in Place order for the 14 days from the 6 am Saturday 4 April until Saturday, 18 April. I will reiterate why this measure is important for the lives of each person who lives in Bermuda.
COVID-19 is a deadly disease. We have seen how this has devastated towns, cities and countries around the world. In Bermuda, we have the ability to flatten the curve and slow down the transmission of the virus by reducing our contact with each other. The virus, as you know, is spread from person to person, and by people touching surfaces where the virus is present. This is the reason why it is important to maintain your social distance, and to practice the good hygiene, that we have spoken about.
Minister Caines has spent the bulk of this afternoon answering questions that people have regarding the Shelter in Place and how it impacts their personal circumstance. Though we will have the ability to answer questions at the end of this press conference regarding specifics, I’m going to ask for the patience of the public as the Attorney-General’s Chambers is finalizing the regulations, and it’s important to know that though the regulations were requested by the Cabinet of Bermuda, the Governor of Bermuda must issue those regulations, and until those regulations are issued, nothing can be considered official as it is under the remit of the Governor in which to issue. So we will wait for the finalization of those regulations.
What I will note, however, is that Shelter in Place will be difficult for many persons in our community. The added stress of reduced incomes, anxiety surrounding the coronavirus and the inability to leave people’s property creates extra pressures for many families. It is important to know that support has been put in place to help families during this time.
The Government has established clear priorities for ensuring that vulnerable persons in need, that are in our community have their needs met. Many partner agencies are working together, churches, nonprofits and Government departments. Resources are available to deliver food, and there are services for seniors. Shelter is available for those in need and for those persons who may be, unfortunately, experiencing domestic violence, help is also available.
Approximately 14 food services and feeding programs have been put in place, and they are providing over 3,000 meals a day island-wide.
Regarding our seniors and our nursing homes. Many of Bermuda’s most vulnerable live in senior’s homes around the island. There are 21 facilities, 19 of them, which are private, would serve a total of 392 seniors. Funding from Bermuda Emergency Fund, which is administered by the Community Foundation, has been used to buy supplies, personal equipment, installed Wi Fi and get more phone lines into the nursing home facilities. If anyone has a concern about a senior or if you’re a senior that needs help, you’re welcome to contact Dr. Claudette Fleming at 747-7525.
Before this COVID-19 crisis emerged, a team of non-profit and public experts met, including representatives from Vision Bermuda, Meals on Wheels, Aging and Disability Services, the Bermuda Health Council (which has oversight and licensing responsibility for seniors homes) Age Concern Bermuda, and a consortium of public and private nursing homes.
Each organization went back to their list of most vulnerable clients, many seniors were contacted directly, and their needs were assessed and addressed with the assistance of Age Concern social workers. Aging and Disability Services also is conducting wellness checks on seniors around the island. These organizations are on standby to address short-term needs of those seniors, as they arise.
For those members of our community who can help make a difference by making a financial contribution to the emergency fund, please go to www.Bcf.bm. All funds will be used to support the identified priority areas for our most vulnerable.
On to the issues of domestic violence. Unfortunately, what happens when you have curfew orders or Shelters in Place, you will, unfortunately see an increase in the risk of domestic violence. Please know that if you are in a domestic situation, and have concern for your safety, contact the Police or call The Center Against Abuse at 292-4366, or their 24-hour hotline to 297-8278.
The Government does not want anyone to remain in a vulnerable position where you may be subject to domestic violence. I’d like to speak today to say, that if you are in that situation, we can ensure that provisions are made for you. We do not want you to be in a situation where you may be abused, and if you need help, please call, and the Government will make sure that we can assist you in your circumstances.
Earlier today, I saw the long lines at the grocery stores. I want to reassure the people of Bermuda that grocery stores will remain open during the 14-day shelter in place. Pharmacies will be open, as well as gas stations. There is no need to buy in bulk. There is plenty of food on the island, and there is enough for us all.
I ask, and remind persons that social distancing is particularly important, and the Minister of National Security in conjunction with our services is going to look at what assistance may be provided to help to make sure that we can have persons maintain adequate social distancing. But the best advice is, buy what you need to buy, and do not buy anymore. There is enough for everyone, and to remember that during the 14 day Shelter in Place, there will be the opportunity to travel to a grocery store, within limits of which will be laid out in regulations.
The Government has also been focused on bringing Bermudians home who have been stranded in the United States and our students who are stranded, some in dire conditions, in the United Kingdom. Working with a local travel agency, who have generously secured a charter flight by Delta Airlines – and the travel agency is Travel Edge – a flight is being organized to bring travellers who may be stranded in the United States, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bermuda. There is a cost for this flight. However, the more persons who take advantage of the flight, the cost could be reduced.
If you have a loved one in the United States who needs to return home, direct them to coronavirus.gov.bm to complete the Returning Bermuda Residents form to add their name to the list. It should be noted that priority, both in London, and in cases from the United States are for persons who are students or vulnerable persons. Then it goes to people who are ordinarily resident in Bermuda. Persons who have moved overseas and are not normally resident and are lower on the priority list and may not be given seats on the flight given that there may be space constraints.
Whether travelers arriving from London, or the United States, once they arrive in Bermuda they will be mandated to enter a Government quarantine facility for 14 days. The Minister of Health has signed a new order that requires this, and our Government has secured a facility, with more than 300 rooms to meet these required quarantine demands.
As I’ve stated previously, we have an obligation to help bring home every Bermudian who is stranded overseas by circumstance far beyond their control. And as I’ve stated previously, some of the stories which you’re hearing that I’ve heard, are not good. I just got off the phone with Ms. Kimberly Durant’s who runs our London office, and we have students that are literally calling her office in tears, because there are no services and support for them as their universities have shut down, and they are very literally the only person that is left on their university campus. The fortunate thing is that most of those students will be home on Monday.
I have heard stories of our seniors who are having retired have made the decision to vacation and have ended up in a city where they hadn’t planned to stay in and spending money on flight, hotel rooms, and food that they had not budgeted for. These are our people, and I’m happy that we continue to work with Government House and the Foreign Commonwealth Office to resolve their dire situations.
Earlier this week, I spoke about the plan to get hospital workers who used to rely on public transportation to and from the hospital. There had been a delay in starting the service. However, the Department of Public Transportation management, the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Bermuda Public Service Union officials, and the Occupational Safety and Health Committee members met with Bermuda Hospitals Board’s Chief of Medicine an expert on infectious diseases to clarify the requirements for personal protection equipment, hygiene and social distancing on the buses under COVID-19 regulations.
The Department of Health, and healthcare professionals were also present to advise on personal protective equipment and COVID-19. The bus drivers now have an understanding of the risk exposure and precautionary measures required to ensure the safety of employees and passengers on buses.
Follow up actions are ongoing. However, the team at DPT has made sufficient progress to safely resume the KEMH bus service starting tomorrow. I thank everyone who has worked to make the service possible so our healthcare workers can get to work.
Now, I will end with some good news, the Bermuda Post Office today confirmed that pension checks for seniors will be delivered tomorrow. Also, the Minister of Finance confirmed to me earlier today that payments have been processed for 1,142 persons who were all approved to receive benefits under the unemployment fund.
Again, 1,142 persons. Those payments were processed at our local banking institutions today, and there will be another run that will be performed tomorrow. The Minister of Finance has informed me that the persons whose payments were run out of that fund were paid for the first two weeks of their benefits, not just one, but the first two weeks of their benefits.
I will close my remarks today with my customary thank you. Thank you to Bermuda’s public health professionals and healthcare workers around the island, who are on the front line, every day. Those are doctors, those are nurses, those are lab technicians, and those are the ones who work in support. Persons who cleaned the hospital, orderlies, the persons who preparing food, and otherwise. Whether you are persons who are working or picking up garbage around the country, whether you were transporting our people to and from work, whether you are off the streets, making sure that we’ve maintained our curfew, as police officer of a regiment officer. I, on behalf of a grateful country, give you our thanks.
To my fellow Bermudians, as I say, all the time, we must use this time to define who we are. To do what is right for ourselves in our country. We are going to have to dig deep and be strong, as we prepare to endure 14 days of Sheltering in place. But I have no doubt that we can do it, and if we do it the right way, it’ll be the last time that this country will have to do it.
Premier Requests A State of Emergency from Governor – SHELTER IN PLACE Order For 14 Days
Good afternoon, to the listening and watching public.
Today I’m joined by the Minister of National Security, the Minister of Health, and the Chief Medical Officer. Also, the Commissioner of Police and the Acting Commander of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.
Today, I will start with a COVID-19 Health update, and then provide some context around the national address, that I gave earlier this afternoon.
Minister Caines will discuss the results of the meeting of the EMO earlier, and will also provide details of the operational aspects of the Shelter in Place, measure, which was announced earlier today.
I can confirm that there were eight results that were received today by the Ministry of Health, and there are no additional positive cases to reports. Our total number of confirmed cases remains at 32 persons. As I mentioned last night, there were three cases that were under investigation. Two of those cases which were under investigation have been confirmed as close contacts, and a third remains under investigation still.
As of this afternoon, there have been 236 tests that have taken place, and there are 33 results, which are still pending ,171 negative results, and as I mentioned before, 32 confirmed cases. Out of those 32 confirmed cases, 20 were imported and 11 were limited local transmission, where we could trace the contacts and one is still under investigation. It is important to note that ten persons have fully recovered from their infections, while three remain hospitalized in stable condition.
We currently have 1,488 persons who were under self-quarantine with public health supervision.
Earlier today, I gave a national address stating that from 4 April at 6am, Bermuda will implement the Shelter in Place measure for 14 days. The Shelter in Place is scheduled to end on 18 April.
The decision to move to Shelter in Place, was not taken lightly. We looked at the number of confirmed cases in Bermuda. We listened to the guidance from the Chief Medical Officer, who was closest to the situation. With COVID-19, there is uncertainty and decision-making is tough, and will always be second guessed, and will always be questioned.
I recognize the incredible pain that this will cause in our community, both financially and certainly emotionally, and how unpopular this decision may be in certain quarters. However, the pain will be nothing compared to the pain that we will have, if we have an overwhelming of our healthcare system, which will lead to a number of deaths. We have seen it play out on television overseas, and it will be a violation of our public duty, if we do nothing to prevent that from happening here.
This government will always make decisions that are in the best interest of the health and welfare of those of us who live in Bermuda.
So what does Shelter in Place look like in practical terms? It means that the only businesses that will remain open are food producers, such as farmers, fishermen, and those persons who raise and herd livestock, food wholesalers, retail grocery stores, doctors’ offices and medical facilities, pharmacies, gas stations, the ports, utility companies like gas and water will be available for emergency services and banks on restricted hours to only provide the most essential of services.
Local banks have been designated as essential services. However, all face to face interactions between bank customers and bank employees will be suspended for the two week period. Bank office operations include the servicing of ATM machines and the processing of wire payments, among other things such as online banking will continue.
The purpose of this 14 day Shelter in Place, is to restrict the movement of people to ensure that our healthcare system is ready for any future surge in patients. It is a big step to ask persons to stay on their properties, to close beaches and public parks, but it is essential that we restrict movement to ensure that we contain and constrain any possible outbreak.
People will be allowed to exercise outside their home within a reasonable distance with no more than groups of two, for restricted times. Minister Caines will provide additional details when he speaks, and the Police Commissioner, as well as other officials are here to answer any further questions.
It is essential to remember that this is a time that we must all pull together, and we must all do what is right for ourselves, for our families, and for our communities. We must work together and treat each other with kindness and respect.
There are a number of stories that have come to me regarding landlords, both commercial and residential, who are not understanding the need for compassion, during this particular time, and who are demanding rent from those persons who have been let go from work, and are threatening eviction of people who from no fault of their own can’t operate their businesses, and cannot pay the rent on their home or their apartments. To these unscrupulous landlords I say today the courts are closed, and eviction notices will not be processed. This is a time for unity, and it is not a time for us to turn on each other.
I want to touch on the airport and when it is scheduled to reopen.
We closed the airport to scheduled commercial traffic for two weeks, commencing on March 20 2020. The fact is, however, that due to the global situation we have been informed that there is no commercial air carrier that has regular service to Bermuda that is intending on re-commencing flights until 1 May 2020.
It is important to note that this is not fully a decision of the Government of Bermuda, but also of the air carriers which flying. This does not prevent our efforts to continue the work to bring stranded Bermudians home and ensure that there are adequate quarantine facilities in which to house those persons to then minimize the risk of any future outbreak.
Before Minister Caines comes to the podium. I want to remind people that you have time to get your home in order before Shelter in Place goes into effect on Saturday morning.
You do not have to run out and start panic buying. Remember, grocery stores will open during the 14 days that we will be sheltering in place. And in addition to that, all major grocery store chains have confirmed that the traditional Wednesday 5% discount will be in place during the entire duration of the Shelter in Place. I want to thank the employees of our grocers, who are doing stellar service, while they are on the front lines. Our ports will be open for goods, and goods will continue to come to the island. If you run out of necessary items, you will still be able to purchase them. So I will encourage you over the next few days to operate and do things in a good and decent order.
We have the opportunity to show each other our best, to be our best, and we must show kindness to each other and exercise the patience of which this time requires. While we cannot touch or hug each other, we can share the smile, exchange a warm greeting, check up on your friends, possibly repair those relationships from a distance which has been frayed, and go the extra step to be a friend, because that is the only way that we will get through this tough time together.
I will close my remarks by saying I want to again pay tribute to all of those persons who have answered the call of service. I was particularly gratified that after my press conference yesterday, I received WhatsApp notices from Public Officers who made sure to prepare themselves to drive nurses to the hospital earlier today. This is a time when we can all come together.
As I said earlier, COVID-19 does not discriminate based upon age, does not discriminate based upon race, does not discriminate based on economic status, does not discriminate against political party, and does not discriminate against immigration status.
If there was ever a time when it was about all of us being in this together, it is now. I recognize that the times will be difficult, but I will call upon all aspects of society, to not only ensure that we endure this next painful period, but we write the next chapter of Bermuda’s history, which will be one of success, collectively, as we seek to recover from the damage that this crisis, right now will cause, but certainly will not have to endure. If we do what’s necessary and right. Thank you. And now we’ll turn the podium over to the Minister of National Security.
Premier Burt Addresses the Nation. SHELTER IN PLACE as April 4th 2020
Click on image for full video
Amidst the noise of today’s continuous cycle of information through social media, online news and even traditional news outlets, the decision-making process can become clouded in a fog of opinions and conflicting views. The responsibility of governments is to sift through that noise and rely upon clear, factual, and in this case, scientific advice to drive the decisions that must be made in the best interests of the people we serve.
From the early emphasis on personal hygiene and the introduction of the term social distancing to our everyday conversations, to the closure of schools and restricting the activities of many businesses, culminating in the recent implementation of nighttime curfews; this Government has carefully plotted a course to mitigate against the risk of community transmission of Covid19.
In daily press conferences I have reported to the people of Bermuda the details around the results of the tests conducted for this virus and the number of positive results is increasing. Whilst the majority of the positive cases are classed as imported owing to the travel history of the individuals, and to their close contacts, there are more cases emerging where the link is not as clear. This reporting caused me to ask the Chief Medical Officer for her advice of just where Bermuda is on the time-scale of this pandemic and what additional measures could be taken to further reduce the risk of sustained community transmission which could overwhelm our hospital.
In characteristic fashion, the CMO’s advice was measured, thoughtful and based on her experience as a public health professional. Her advice to me and by extension to the Cabinet and the Government of Bermuda is that to effectively mitigate the risk of community transmission we must implement stricter measures to control the movement of people in and around Bermuda.
Following yesterday’s meeting of Cabinet and with their full support, I met this morning with His Excellency the Governor and requested that he exercise his authority under section 14(3) of the Constitution to declare a state of emergency for Bermuda based on what is now necessary to intensify the fight against this virus. Further to that state of emergency I have asked the Governor to make regulations under the Emergency Powers Act 1963 to direct that Bermuda’s residents must ‘shelter in place’ for a period of 14 days.
What does this mean for you? The only way we will prevent this disease from intensifying in Bermuda is if our nighttime routine of everyone in their properties is extended throughout the day. ‘Shelter in place’ means we must stay at home unless we must go to the store for food or medicine or to a gas station. Other exemptions will be in place for workers in essential areas and that list will be similar to the one now in place for nighttime curfew.
As I indicated yesterday, the existing curfew hours of 8pm to 6am have been renewed for a further three days and will expire at 6am on Saturday, 4th April. From the moment that that curfew order expires, this country will be under a 24hr requirement to ‘shelter in place’ for an initial period of 14 days. The Constitution requires that the Legislature meet within five days of a state of emergency being declared. I have confirmed with the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate that both Houses will meet as required on Monday, 6th April at 10am and 12pm respectively.
The Attorney General’s Chambers is working on the Regulations but I can indicate that they will require residents to ‘shelter in place’ for these 14 days, leaving their properties only if they are essential workers, in the case of medical emergencies or to purchase food or medicine. The only businesses that will remain open will be food producers or food wholesalers, retail grocery stores, doctor’s offices and medical facilities, pharmacies, gas stations, the ports, utility companies like gas & water will be available for emergency service; and banks on restricted hours and only to provide the most essential of services.
Beyond the clinical public health advice and the cold language employed to give effect to this rare set of restrictions on the freedoms we all enjoy, there is a human element to all of this. It weighs heavily on me personally that these decisions stall an economy that has struggled to emerge from the global shift of 2008. Men and women across various sectors have lost jobs or now will suffer reduced income earning capacity.
There is anxiety among our seniors and those who appear to be most susceptible to the worst effects of this disease. Some families are facing the stress of personal economic impact or of loved ones unable to return to Bermuda because of travel restrictions. These are hard times and our faith in many things is being tested. But we are a hard people and we can emerge from this stronger. My colleagues and I have wrestled with how best to respond to this pandemic and in addition to my personal faith I am guided by the oath I took when I was appointed to this office: to do right…without fear.
I feel deeply the impact that this will have on hardworking men and women across the Island, not only financially but emotionally. Uncertainty is never good and this is a period of global uncertainty. But the strongest defence to uncertainty is unity. This disease and its impact does not discriminate. It does not care how old you are, whether you are black or white, what your politics may be, or even your immigration status. Fighting this pandemic demands a unity of purpose that challenges us to lay aside those things that may divide us in times of peace and to join together in a common goal of keeping this island that we all call home safe.
I am certain that this is the right thing to do for Bermuda at this time. Together we must do all we can to save lives, and the danger of waiting is not worth the money it might save. We must act decisively and we must act now. The future of Bermuda depends on us all doing our part.
Thank you for your support and thank you for continuing to work together – and together we will get through this.
Press Conference from the Premier – March 31, 2020
Good afternoon, members of the media.
I’m joined today by the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security. I will give an update on the latest regarding Bermuda and COVID-19, after I’ve just finished chairing a meeting of Bermuda’s Cabinet.
The government did receive additional test results today. Out of the six test results received today, five cases were positive and one case was negative, meaning that the confirmed positive cases in Bermuda now stands at 32.
Three of the confirmed cases were imported, one had close contact with a confirmed case and is considered limited local transmission. The fifth case is under investigation.
Two of the confirmed cases arrived in Bermuda on the British Airways flight BA2233 on 18 March 2020. Another arrived on American Airlines flight AA308 on 14 March, 2020.
If you were on the British Airways flight on 18 March, your self-quarantine period ends tomorrow – 1 April, 2020.
If you arrived on the AA flight on 14 March your monitoring period ended on 28 March 2020.
If you are feeling fine and have no symptoms, continue to either practice social distancing, remain in your house and observe the self-quarantine guidelines.
If you have any respiratory symptoms, such as a persistent cough or even a mild fever, please contact your doctor.
Explain that you were on one of the mentioned flights and that you would like medical guidance. Do not go to your doctor’s office or the hospital. Please call ahead.
I know that there has been some confusion in the public about definitions. Let me take a few minutes to explain the different terms.
Again we have 32 confirmed cases in Bermuda.
Imported means cases that were acquired outside of Bermuda and, as of today, out of the 32 confirmed cases, 20 of those cases are confirmed as imported cases, which means that the virus was likely contracted outside of Bermuda and brought into the country by travellers.
As of today, there are nine cases of local transmission. Local transmission is when a person has had close contact with a person with COVID-19. Close contact is defined as either at work or at home.
Under investigation: This type of transmission has not yet been determined. These cases are not imported and are likely the result of local transmission. Investigation continues on these cases to determine the source of the transmission. There are three cases under investigation.
Recovered is defined as a person who has had no fever for at least 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, and their other symptoms have improved, and at least 14 days have passed since they started to have symptoms. It is important to note, again, the ten persons out of the 32 have fully recovered.
Bermuda’s COVID-19 country status is considered local transmission.
Currently, there is no evidence of community transmission. Community transmission is evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases for a large number of cases.
What is clear, however, is the number of cases in Bermuda is increasing and unfortunately today, there are now three persons who are hospitalized with COVID-19, in King Edward Memorial Hospital. The Cabinet has met, we have discussed the current situation, and as noted, if there is an escalation of the situation we will look to possibly take additional measures.
The Cabinet however has decided that the curfew that went into effect on Sunday, and is scheduled to expire tonight, will be extended for a further three days from Wednesday 1 April, to Friday, the 3 April, from 8pm until 6am the following day. It is important that we continue to work together to ensure that we reduce the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve so we do not overwhelm our healthcare system.
Officers from the Ministry of Health, and others authorized to do so, have been in the community inspecting, advising and ensuring the observation of social distancing guidelines, within businesses that are still allowed to operate.
This activity is being undertaken to help ensure vital businesses remain open and that social distancing measures needed to reduce the spread of this virus are contained.
Regarding last night’s curfew. The Bermuda Police Service has reported that there were no curfew breaches last night. This is excellent news because this indicates that as a country, we are taking this matter seriously.
The Bermuda Police Service had officers positioned around the island together with nine members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment on patrol. I am pleased that we did not have any curfew violations and I encourage everyone to do the same again tonight.
On the matter of allowing employees to work from home. As I’ve mentioned previously this government has moved swiftly to implement regulations that make it mandatory for companies to allow employees who can work from home to work from home. I have stood here on more than one occasion and asked companies to make a way for their employees to work from home.
Yet, I am still inundated on a daily basis with complaints from employees who fear that their workers are threatening their jobs with making sure that they come into work, even though they are perfectly capable of working from home and have worked from home before. I did state that we will be passing laws and the Cabinet meeting which just concluded, did bless the implementation of regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the regulations will come into effect tonight Which means that persons who are able to work from home, must be allowed to do so, and their employer will be in violation of the law if they do not allow them.
What is important is that the staff, that do believe that their employers are possibly violating the spirit and letter of the law, have the ability to report such a violation. To ensure that Bermuda’s employers work for the health and well-being of their employees the government has created a labor complaint form.
Employees can complete the form and submit it to the Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, where the Labour Department will process and investigate each complaint. The employment violations tip-line, can be found at the following website address www.bermudajobboard.bm/evtl, which stands for employment violations tip line, and we will put a link to that particular website, on the website coronavirus.gov.bm, so everyone can find it.
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports and the Minister of Health for working to put these regulations into effect quickly, as it is important.
Just some brief updates on other matters. Regarding the Hamilton docks. In an effort to maintain safety, efficiency, and relieve congestion on the Hamilton port, all local importers are urged to pick up their containers, as soon as possible.
The Hamilton docks are starting to get congested, and would like to move some containers in and out of the port, and to maintain the shipping schedules. Therefore, if you have a container on the dock. Please make arrangements to move them as quickly as possible to ensure Bermuda continues to receive necessary food, medicine, and other supplies.
To ensure healthcare workers can get to and from work, in the absence of the Department of Public Transportation service, as workers at the Department of Public Transportation have withdrawn their labor, mini buses will be invited to bid to provide the service at a reasonable fee for service. I am extremely disappointed with this development from the staff at the Department of Public Transportation, and this afternoon, I sent a letter to Public Officers reminding them that they must move beyond the barriers their job, in order to provide service to the people of Bermuda, as they are Public Officers.
We will each be call on and asked to work in a different capacity to keep the country running, and it is only together that we are able to come through this unprecedented global pandemic stronger.
I’ve also made sure that it is made clear from the Cabinet, and the Cabinet has full support, that public officers that do not wish to report to work will not be paid for the time in which they’re absent, and that money will be used to fund, the minibus service.
Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance in conjunction with the Minister of Labour Community Affairs and Sport, will host a press conference to give an update on the unemployment benefits. However, at the Cabinet today, it was confirmed that the payouts for the unemployment benefit will be made this Thursday and Friday. So persons can look forward to receiving those particular benefits.
On Thursday, the Minister of Finance will also hold a press conference to discuss Bermuda’s current economic position, and what the Government will be doing to help support the economy, after we come out of this particular crisis.
The final note that I have today as an update, is that under the work of the Minister of National Security, there was a shelter for vulnerable people, which was set up at The Barclay Institute gymnasium. That shelter has been open for the last two nights, and will again be open tonight. The shelter, which opens at 6:30pm, provides a hot meal, and a place to sleep for those who are otherwise without shelter.
That concludes my remarks. What I’d like to say is that the additional cases, and additional under investigations, does mark, different stage in our affairs. That is the reason why we have extended the curfew. We’re going to continue to have a conversation with the epidemiologist and I’m doing to seek advice from the Chief Medical Officer to see whether or not she believes that additional measures should be taken.
Every day in closing, I thank the staff that are working on the front lines. I thank the public officers that are doing their particular work to make sure they’re being flexible so that we can continue to provide services for the people in this country, and I will continue to thank them, as we all work together during this incredibly difficult time.
Press Conference March 30, 2020
5 New Covid-19 Cases – Total Cases 27 ( 10 Recovered – 2 in Hospital in stable condition- 15 in isolation at home) NO COMMUNITY SPREAD CASES REPORTED
Today I am joined by his Excellency the Governor, I am joined also by the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Education.
For today’s media briefing, I will give an update on the latest Covid-19 test results, matters dealing with social distancing measures which have been put in place, a small update on the unemployment benefits, the Governor will give an update on the UK Government through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s efforts to organize an airbridge to try to get students who are stranded in the United Kingdom back to Bermuda.
The Minister of Education will provide details of the programmes that have been put in place to help our students to learn from home.
COVID-19 Test Results
Today, the Government of Bermuda received 30 additional test results from our aggressive programme of COVID testing. Of these 30 test results, there are five more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25 of the results were negative.
Three of the confirmed new cases were imported cases and two had close contact with a previously confirmed case.
Of the newly imported cases, they all arrived on British Airways flights.
The British Airways flights on 13 March 2020, the British Airways flight on 15 March, 2020 and the British Airways flight on the 17 March 2020.
Here’s what you need to know if you were on one of those British Airways flights:
If you arrived on flight 13 March your self monitoring period ended on 27 March, 2020.
If you arrived on 15 March your self monitoring period ended on 29 March, 2020.
If you arrived on 17 March your self monitoring period ends on 31 March 2020.
If you are feeling fine and have no symptoms, there is nothing for you to do except to remain in your house and continue to observe the self-quarantine guidelines or social distancing guidelines which apply after your self-quarantine is over.
If you have any respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or even a mild fever, please contact your doctor. Explain that you were on one of the afore-mentioned British Airways flights and that you would like medical guidance. Do not go to your doctor’s office or the hospital. Please call ahead.
Now that we are at 27, I recognize that there is a heightened sense of anxiety inside the community. Here is what I will continue to say. Number one, it is expected that we would have an increase in numbers. Here is what is key. There is no confirmed local transmission that has taken place at this time. Out of the total amount of cases that we have, numbering 27 cases, we know that 17 of these cases were imported, eight of were close contact with persons who were previously confirmed cases, and there are two that remain under investigation.
I know that that there are questions regarding the two that remain under investigation. The Epidemiology Unit is trying to identify where this transmission may have happened. However, it is important to note that contract tracing has happened for close contacts of those particular persons. Those particular persons who are close contacts of the two people who are under investigation, have all been quarantined and to date none of them have experienced any symptoms.
I think it is important for the public to know that just because the cases are under investigation does not stop the Epidemiology Unit from doing what it is that they are supposed to do, which is to track down cases.
Out of the 27 confirmed cases that we have, ten persons have fully recovered, two remain hospitalized in stable condition, and the other 15 are currently active inside their COVID-19 infection. Most of them are at home with mild symptoms but there are two persons that remain hospitalized.
Unfortunately, due to the anonymity of Public Health reporting I come before you with numbers saying 27 and these particular things. I want all of to keep in mind that though COVID infections are generally mild, it must be understood that these are person who are our friends and family, they are our co-workers, they are people who have families and though some of them have recovered there are still some of them that are still undergoing the effects of the virus. I want us to keep them and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and I want to let them know that, if you are watching from you home, we are thinking about you. Thank you for making sure that you continue to take the precautions that are necessary to limit any possible spread of this virus. I hope that for those of you in the hospital, your treatment is going well and those of you who are at home, are recovering nicely.
Clarification on curfew requirements
I am pleased to report that everything curfew related went well throughout the night. The streets were clear.
Two persons were stopped when they were seen out walking just after midnight.
There were two on the fly curfew exemptions given. One was an elderly couple; the male is a cancer patient and required KEMH attention and was driven to KEMH by his wife. The second had previously been a hospital patient and needed to return and was being returned by a family member. Both passed through to hospital without incident.
There was a 5:30am Burglary Report at Coconut Rock and the culprits were quickly apprehended and are in custody.
Eight Royal Bermuda Regiment personnel reported for police duties. Five were sent out in area cars and three performed foot patrols in the city.
The curfew will continue for two more nights and it will be assessed to see if whether or not the Cabinet will ask the Governor to extend that curfew for a further period of three more nights.
Government Quarantine facilities
There are currently 27 persons that are currently housed in a Government monitored quarantine facility.
On the issue of self-quarantine. It is important to know that if you are on self-quarantine, you cannot leave your house and feel you can quarantine in another residence. You must stay at home, separate yourself from others in your household, if possible use a separate bathroom and wash your hands often. You cannot let in visitors, share the common areas with members of your household and you should not share your utensils with members of your household.
Being in quarantine does not mean that you have the virus, but it does mean that there is a possibility that you may have been exposed to the virus and the most important thing to do is to monitor your health to make sure that you don’t get the symptoms.
If you do get symptoms, self-quarantine reduces the chances to giving the coronavirus to the people you live with. However, it is important to note that even if you have not developed symptoms it does not mean that you are free and clear. Continue to maintain your quarantine, because we have noted that some persons can pass on the infections before they have become symptomatic. If you pass the infection on, that means your entire house may be subject to stricter measures if you manage to develop an infection.
It is important that you maintain your self-quarantine, and after your self-quarantine is up, you must still abide by the social distancing guidelines, because our job is to prevent the spread of this virus.
There has been a question of the nine persons who breached self-quarantine. Upon further follow-up and police checks, all persons were found accounted for, save one. The Ministry of Health is going to be speaking with the Police to advance that particular matter to see that that matter is dealt with appropriately under the law.
There will be additional checks that will take place throughout the week by the Police and the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and we are urging all persons that are under self-quarantine to maintain their self-quarantine to make sure that they protect the country and the people of Bermuda.
There are 819 completed applications that have been submitted to the Department of Workforce Development.
I must thank everyone who has worked around the clock to create the unemployment benefits system from scratch, tested and modify it to accommodate the needs of the applicant and the various government departments who are responsible for processing the applications and payments.
Please note that once these applications have been submitted, the Workforce Development staff will review each application, including the supporting documentation, to properly vet them so that they can properly approved for payment.
It should be noted that the first round of approved payments will be issue later this week.
For those of you who still need to complete a form, you can visit the website, coronavirus.gov.bm or you can get a hardcopy from the General Post Office.
The current restriction on commercial aircraft operations is in place for two weeks from 21 March, which takes us to 4 April. However, commercial airlines have generally suspended service to Bermuda for the month of April. The Cabinet will discuss the future status of resuming scheduled commercial airline traffic.
It is too early to say what criteria might be established for a decision on reopening the airport. We are taking into account those person who may be stranded overseas who are looking to return home and we are factoring in all of those in our decision making. Please, however note that we will not open the airport prematurely.
Our healthcare professionals are focused on the immediate fight against COVID-19. We are going to ensure that we take care and control of any possible outbreak in this country first before we consider opening up our borders to commercial traffic. There are still a number of Bermudians who are stuck overseas and as I mentioned earlier, the Governor will give an update on the United Kingdom Government’s efforts to work with the Overseas Territories to provide an air bridge.
To be included in the airbridge flight to Bermuda returning students must complete the Returning Bermuda Residents Home form on line: https:forms.gov.bm/covid19/return
The final item which I will tackle today is the issue of the retail closures. On Sunday, we announce that retail closures would be in effect for seven days and would be reviewed following that seven-day period. That seven-day period expires tomorrow, and the Minister of Health has advised that that period will be extended for a further seven days.
That means that the retail closures that were put in place, for not only retail, personal care and all those closure notices regarding churches, community facilities, bars, dine in restaurants etc., will be extended for a further seven days.
It is important that we continue to track and trace any particular COVID infection that may exist in Bermuda to ensure that we have any outbreak under control before we begin to loosen any restrictions th
Press Conference From The Premier – March 29th
I issued a press release last night giving an update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases there are in Bermuda. That update of 22 confirmed cases is the case at this moment in time. There are no additional cases to report at this moment.
There are 22 confirmed cases in Bermuda. Of these, ten persons of the 22 have fully recovered, two remain hospitalized in stable condition (they are not critical and they are not requiring use of a ventilator) and the others are currently isolating at home with mild symptoms.
Yesterday there were 26 testing samples that were collected and today, a further nine more samples were collected. We are expecting the results of those tests tomorrow.
Bermuda remains without evidence of community transmission. Community transmission is considered to be occurring when a large number of cases cannot be traced to a previously identified positive case.
There have been some questions regarding the two cases listed on the website as under investigation. I would like to provide a little more detail about those two cases. In the interest of confidentiality, I will not disclose information that could identify the individuals.
Both have been under investigation since 26 and 27 March, respectively. For the first case, the onset of symptoms was on 17 March. They were admitted to the hospital on 24 March. They were tested for COVID-19 on 25 March. The results were received by the Epidemiology Unit on 26 March and contact tracing started on 27 March.
The second, they had the onset of symptoms on the 21 March. Attended the Emergency Room on 25 March. On the same day they were tested. The results were received on the 26 March. The Epidemiology Unit started contact tracing on 27 March. Those cases remain under investigation and I hope to provide a further update on those tomorrow.
There are currently 29 people who are in self- quarantine with active monitoring by the Ministry of Health.
1,481 people are in self-quarantine with public health supervision.
886 people are self-monitoring with public health supervision.
A total of 190 tests have been conducted, with 31 results that are pending. This is as of 3pm today.
137 have come back with negative results and only 22 are confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The first night of the curfew will take place tonight from 8pm to 6am tomorrow morning. The Bermuda Police Service has received more than 300 applications for exemption. Those forms are being processed. If you receive an email saying your exemption has been approved, you will be permitted to be on Bermuda’s roads.
However, most of the persons who submitted for exemptions, will likely not receive them because this is a preview of what is to come if the country does not adopt the strict social distancing measures which are needed to ensure that we do not have an outbreak of COVID-19 in Bermuda.
This means that if you are not on the list of exemptions, you must be off the streets of Bermuda. This means you cannot drive around in your car, you cannot go for a walk, you cannot dash to the gas station. This means everyone in Bermuda must be in their homes.
Tomorrow morning, after 6am, you may resume with limited movement, observing the social distancing guidelines which have been previously laid out.
Tomorrow morning you can go outside and exercise, run, walk. You cannot and should not participate in activities with groups larger than ten.
Normal trash collection will resume tomorrow. Please put your trash out on your designated day.
Despite the conversations about possible quarantine activities that are taking place in certain states in the NE of the United States, there is normal cargo operations on our docks which means Bermuda continues to receive food and other supplies. The Minister of National Security checked in earlier today on our shipping to make sure there are no perceived disruptions due to the changing situation which is taking place in New York and New Jersey. As has been reported, there is no perceived difficulties to our supply lines at this time.
I will ask shoppers again, if you are shopping to not buy more than your household needs. There is plenty for everyone and we are not expecting any type of supply disruption.
Moving on to another matter that is particularly important.
The government continues to work to bring Bermudian students who are stranded due to no fault of their own back home. There has been some concern expressed that Bermuda is letting people into the island which means that we may be admitting additional positive cases.
Let me be perfectly clear. Bermuda was closed and the airport was closed to regularly scheduled commercial traffic from last Friday. Scheduled cargo flights, Medevacs (or air ambulances) and private jets are still operable as they are not scheduled commercial flights.
I think it is important to note, I want to say this because I know there has been public criticism that has been leveled at the government for advertise the fact that we are looking to bring stranded Bermudian students back home. I have to state this. I consider it our moral obligation to take care of our persons who are stranded, some of them in very desperate situations.
Imagine being overseas, your dorm being closed. Persons around you being able to travel home back and you are by yourself. Food service for your dormitory is ending. This is the situation some of our students overseas have found themselves in. It is a situation that is being faced by myself and is being faced by a number of other Overseas Territories leaders. We are looking, in conjunction with the other Overseas Territories, to organize an air bridge. Nothing has been confirmed yet. But I want all persons to know, if you are a Bermudian student overseas then the Government is working to make sure that we can bring you back home.
However, it should be noted that the Cabinet on Friday decided that any person who is returning back home, in any future air bridge operation from the United Kingdom will be not allowed to self-quarantine but will be required to stay in a government approved quarantine facility. Which most likely will be a hotel. So Government approved and Government monitored facility. These are the same arrangements that are being made in other Overseas Territories. The fact remains, that the Government wants to bring Bermudians home who are stranded due to no fault of their own.
There has also been a lot of commentary regarding private jets. I want to make it clear that private jets are able to enter the airport. There have only been, since the airport has closed, three private jets that have come in that are bearing passengers. Two arrived on Thursday and that was previously mentioned. That was organized by international companies to bring persons who missed the previously scheduled Delta flight and one arrived earlier today. The flight that arrived earlier today brought home the family of a resident, a doctor from the Bermuda Hospitals Board who was stranded overseas and wasn’t able to get back home and a Bermuda student.
It should be noted that any private plane that requires permission to land has to get permission from myself in order to do so. Permission is being given only if extra seats are made available for Bermudian students who may be stranded to come home. Some people have said this is kind of like Uber jets. If there is extra space, then it makes no sense for those flights to come here when there are Bermudians who need to return home. The Bermudian student who returned home on that flight today is entering a government quarantine facility.
Regarding the UK air bridge, as I indicated earlier, we do not have any final information for that. We are continuing to work with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Overseas Territories to make this a reality. As soon as we have the information on how much this particular trip will cost, we’ll make sure to provide that at the earliest opportunity. I would ask that persons go ahead and go online to fill out the form, to register your interest, if you are a Bermudian student that is stranded overseas.
A number of students have contacted the London Office. The Government put out a statement on Friday with a website with a link if you are a Bermudian student at home and you can find that link on coronavirus.gov.bm.
Allow me to close by saying this. The decision to put in a curfew was not arrived at lightly. However, we only have to turn on our TVs or look on line to see how the coronavirus has impacted other countries. How the healthcare systems around the world are being overrun, which is leading to misery and death.
We do not want that here in Bermuda and we all have our part to play in flattening the curve and limiting the number of persons who contract this virus at one time.
This will be done by reducing our movements and contacts with each other. We must take responsibility for our actions and we must obey the guidelines that have been given by the Ministry of Health.
There are some who have asked why is the curfew only in the evening and not during the day. The fact is the more restrictions you can put on persons by having the ability to interact the more opportunity you have to slow the spread of the virus. So we are taking all necessary steps that we can do. As I’ve said, it is a delicate balance between making sure we can have some form of operations that continue the country while putting in restrictions to minimize and slow the spread.
Yesterday I know there were a number of Bermudians that were alarmed by the increase in the numbers that we announced yesterday.
I too am not pleased that we have increasing cases. However it was expected. As I’ve said, most of these cases were imported cases or close contacts of imported cases. It is comforting to know that we still have no evidence of community transmission but is it very important that Bermudians observe the advice to stay home. It is something that is important and it is something that will save lives.
Many of us have to learn how to be in our homes for long periods of time and I know this is a stressful time for many. Working from home, helping children to learn from home, finding ways to manage the stress many of us are dealing with.
Please know the government is trying best to make accommodations for all. For instance, we added a limited bus service for employees of the Bermuda Hospitals Board to make sure they can go to work. We will soon be launching a child care service for children of essential workers. That will be coming on line this week to ensure essential workers are not taking off the front line because they have to be at home to attend to their children.
The COVID-19 helpline number is 444 2498. This line is to answer questions and concerns people may have about COVID-19.
In closing, I will say this again.
We all must do our part. Public Health depends on individual responsibility. In Bermuda will write our own COVID-19 story. We are the only people who will say how this story unfolds.
If we adhere to the curfew that is in place. If we adhere to the social distancing guidelines. If we wash our hands and make sure we keep six feet away from others. If you don’t go to visit your friends and relatives, as much as you want to but recognizing that during this period in time we have minimize the possibility for community spread, we will all make a difference. As Bermudians we have the capability. We are strong. We are resilient and I am comforted to know that the vast majority of Bermudians are observing the guidelines and together we will make a difference.
With that, I will say a sincere thank you to all those who are working around the clock. A special thanks to the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security, those persons that are on the front line, the persons as the hospital, all throughout this country who are making sure that we continue to operate in a fashion that works.
Press Release From The Premier on March 28th
Premier the Hon. David Burt, JP, MP today announced of the 36 test results received today, there were five more confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 31 negative results.
Three of the confirmed cases were imported and two had close contact with a confirmed case and are limited local transmission.
One of the confirmed cases arrived in Bermuda on the British Airways flight BA2233 on 15 March 2020. Another arrived on flight BA2233 on 18 March, 2020 and the third arrived on BA2233 on 20 March 2020.
Here’s what you need to know if you were on one of those British Airways flights:
If you arrived on 15 March your monitoring period ends tomorrow – 29 March, 2020.
If you arrived on 18 March your monitoring period ends on 1 April, 2020.
If you arrived on 20 March your monitoring period ends on 3 April 2020.
If you are feeling fine and have no symptoms, there is nothing for you to do except to remain in your house and continue to observe the self-quarantine guidelines.
If you have any respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or even a mild fever, please contact your doctor. Explain that you were on one of the mentioned British Airways flights and that you would like medical guidance. Do not go to your doctor’s office or the hospital. Please call ahead.
There are currently two confirmed COVID-19 patients in hospital in stable condition.
Premier Burt stated, “As Bermudians, we must do everything in our power to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. When the curfew comes into effect tomorrow evening at 8pm, I am urging every person in Bermuda to stay in your home. Only if you are on the exemption list will you be allowed to move around the island. The steps we are taking as a Government is to ensure the health of each person who lives here. You have the ability to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands, staying six feet away from other people and encouraging others to follow all the guidelines that have been put in place. You are the person who will make the difference.”
The Premier will give another update on Sunday 29 March 2020.