Bermuda Post

Monday, Apr 12, 2021

10 new COVID-19 cases reported in Bermuda, 23 March 2021

10 new COVID-19 cases reported in Bermuda, 23 March 2021

The Ministry of Health received 866 test results since the last update, and ten were positive for COVID-19. One of the new cases is classified as imported by a resident who arrived on Delta Airlines DL617 from New York on 7 March 2021 and tested positive on their Day 14 test. Six of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.
The additional three new cases are classified as under investigation. These cases are among residents with no currently identified link to other known cases or history of travel in the past 14 days.

Additionally, since the last update, there were three (3) recoveries.

There are currently 113 active cases, of which;

· 113 are under public health monitoring and;

· None are in the hospital, and none are in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 840 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 715 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 42 years (median: 39 years), and the ages range from less than one (1) year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 30 years (median: 30 years), and the ages range from less than 10 years (age group: 0-9 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).

The mean age of all deceased cases is 75 years (median: 77 years), and the ages range from less than 60 years (age group: 50-59 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).

The source of all cases is as follows:

· 228 are imported

· 590 are classified as local transmission of which:

· 498 are local transmission with known contact/source and

· 92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source

· 22 are under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

Of the over 180,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median: 42 years), and the ages range from less than one (1) year to greater than 100 years.

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

I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme.

We have completed the tenth full week of vaccinations operating six days a week. For the ten-week period from January 11 to March 20, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 33,498 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 34,204 if you include yesterday's vaccinations as well! – all of which is very good news.

Of the 33,498 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends March 20th;

· 54% are women, and,

· 46% are men.

Bermuda's goal of "herd immunity" will be achieved when 70% of the population (64,054) has been immunised. To date, 32% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose), and 20% of the population has been immunised (with 2 doses).

3,790 vaccinations were delivered during the week of March 14-20. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:

· The Vaccination Centre at Bermuda College administered 20,156 or 60% of vaccinations,

· 12,363 or 37% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre,

· 817 or 2% were administered at rest homes and long term care facilities, and

· 162 or less than 1% were administered at Other Vaccination Sites.

Significant progress has been made in vaccinating our most vulnerable. 62% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination with 20% being fully immunised. 46% of individuals between 50 and 64 years of age have received at least one vaccination with 24% being fully immunised. Only 13% of residents less than 50 years of age have been vaccinated which is what we would expect as this group falls into Phase 3 which is just opening up now.

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

I want to remind residents that we have entered Phase 3 of Bermuda's COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy. Phase 3 is for residents who are 16 years or older. Priority will continue to be given to our more vulnerable populations, including seniors and those with medical conditions. If you have not already registered, please do so by completing the registration form at forms.gov.bm/covid.

If you were eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1A, 1B or 2 group and have not registered yet, please do so today.

Registration numbers continue to rise, with more than 1500 online registrations received since the move to Phase 3 was announced on Saturday. To the week ending March 20, 23,502 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:

· 7,109 Black

· 11,438 White

· 3,323 Mixed or Other, and,

· 1,632 Prefer not to say or Not Specified.

Please remember that you will not be vaccinated if you have travelled in the last 14 days. You MUST Have a day 14 negative test result to get either your first or second dose.

Also, if you are in quarantine, please do not attend your vaccination appointment. Please let the Vaccine Programme know that you are in quarantine and will miss your appointment. The appointment can be rescheduled, and if it is your second appointment, it can be rescheduled up to 12 weeks from the first appointment.

Every dose of the vaccine is extremely important, so if you are unavailable to make your appointment, please call the Hotline at 444-2498 (Option #2) or email vaccine@gov.bm.

I want to take this opportunity to remind people about being vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is recognised globally as one of the single most important measures that individuals can take to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.

We need as many people as possible to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody response without having to experience more than mild side-effects such as a headache. Thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine so far, and very few serious side effects or complications have been reported.

All vaccinations are administered by trained medical staff who will monitor each person for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given. For complete reliable information on vaccines, please visit gov.bm/vaccines.

We are seeing many emerging cases of COVID-19, and this outbreak is significantly impacting children, including very young children. In fact, a full third of the current active cases are school-aged children. Parents, please do not ignore symptoms and assume that sniffling, coughing etc. is a cold or allergies. If you or your children have flu-like symptoms, fevers, chills, nasal congestion, runny nose or coughing, stay at home, do not send your children to school as it puts all students and staff at risk of contracting COVID-19. Just as we ask you not to send symptomatic children to school, you, as a parent or guardian, should not go to work if you or someone in your household has symptoms.

In these situations, everyone in your household should remain at home. Do not have your children in extra-curricular activities outside their school bubble either. Speak to your doctor right away and get tested.

Regarding testing, please know there is a difference between the diagnostic testing carried out by the Ministry of Health using the nasal swabs and the saliva screening carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Education by the MDL lab.

If you have exposure to the virus or have symptoms, the Ministry will require a nasopharyngeal PCR test to be done, not a saliva screening. The saliva screening serves the useful purpose of providing a preliminary indication of the presence of the virus in the overall population of Bermuda. Confirmation is provided by the nasopharyngeal test.

I would also like to remind people who have been told to quarantine to take it seriously. The Ministry of Health's Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) will contact you if you are identified as having a risk of exposure. If you are identified as a close contact and asked to quarantine, you will be advised by the Ministry of Health's Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. You will be told when and how to quarantine and the testing protocol to follow.

Your tests will be different from that of the traveller testing guidance because the risks are different. Please only follow the quarantine and testing advice given to you by the ESU.

And it is essential to note that when it comes to households with multiple siblings if you are able to quarantine the affected sibling away from the other sibling(s) and parent, the non-affected sibling may still attend school.

The other parent can go to work. If you are NOT able to keep the household members apart because you all share the same bathroom or eat together in the kitchen or watch TV in the same room, then both siblings should quarantine, and the parents should not attend work. You can find detailed quarantine information on gov.bm/coronavirus.

If you are immunised and receive notification that your child must quarantine, the main caregiver, whether immunised or not, must also quarantine with the child. This is because peer-reviewed studies have not yet confirmed whether or not an immunised person – who can still test positive! – can transmit the disease.

Please note that just because persons have been quarantined – this doesn't mean they are carrying the virus. The person may have had a potential exposure to someone who is confirmed as having tested positive for the virus that causes COVID disease. They may or may not go on to test positive themselves.

It is important, too, for employers to have as much flexibility as possible in these situations. Parents who are required to quarantine are not all able to work from home. It is very stressful, on top of coping with a potential COVID-19 exposure, to worry about your employment.

In closing, I will remind everyone that from the very start, this Government put measures in place to reduce the spread of this virus, flatten the curve and not overwhelm our healthcare system.

Yes, some of the restrictions were strict, but they worked. We had a strategy that achieved good results, and we were able to reduce the spread, re-open businesses, go back to school and re-open our borders to give our economy a much-needed boost.

Then, last November, we had a second wave, and again we introduced restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the virus, keep people well, save lives, and protect our already fragile economy.

The restrictions that were put in place, and people following the guidance we provided, worked, and we were able to, once again, ease the restrictions.

However, just as we thought we were turning the corner in our fight against COVID-19, we find ourselves rolling back the relaxations to protect the health and well-being of our community from another outbreak.

We will get through this current challenge, and I am grateful to all of those dedicated healthcare professionals who are working tirelessly to fight this pandemic and keep us all safe.

This last year has not been easy, and we have learned some important lessons along the way. Three points I want to make this evening.

1. We must follow the guidance and obey the restrictions that are in place - this current variant spreads easily and quickly.

2. We must be patient – this pandemic is not over.

3. The more people vaccinated, the better chance we have of reducing the spread and get our lives back to some semblance of normal.

I know people are frustrated with the restrictions, especially the curfew.

However, we have empirical evidence that the curfew is working. Having people stay at home, and having controls that prevent socialising outside of your household helps control the spread.

Socialising outside of the household you live in and having people socialise in your home (outside of the members of your household) has presented the problems we are now seeing. We urge everyone to reduce the bubble of people they socialise with to just their household. That will help to stop the spread.

Please remember that the Government's actions are designed to protect our residents' safety and well-being, to ensure that our healthcare system does not get overwhelmed and to protect our economy.
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