Bermuda Post

Monday, Jan 18, 2021

Bermuda Government COVID-19 Update December 8, 2020

Hon. Kim Wilson, Minister of Health and the Hon David Burt, Premier of Bermuda gave an update on COVID-19 in Bermuda.

The Minister of Health COVID-19 Press Statement, 8 December 2020:

Good Afternoon,

There were 929 test results received by the Ministry of Health yesterday (7 December 2020), and 24 were positive for COVID-19.

One of the new cases is classified as imported with details as follows:

1 resident who arrived on DL 617 from New York on 28 November 2020 and tested positive on their day 8 test, having had a negative pre-arrival test and a negative arrival test.

16 of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact/source with details as follows:

4 residents who were under quarantine as close contacts (2 household, 2 workplace) of known cases
12 residents who are associated with known clusters

The remaining 7 new cases are classified as under investigation. These cases are among residents with no history of travel or any currently identified links to other known cases or clusters

Bermuda now has 330 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

there are 98 active cases, of which
96 are under public health monitoring and
2 are hospitalized with 1 in critical care;
a total of 223 have recovered, and
the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all confirmed positive cases is 48 years and the age range is 0 to 101 years.

To protect privacy and confidentiality, the average age and age range of the hospitalized cases will not be provided.

The average age of all deceased cases is 74 years and the age range is 57 to 91 years.

The source of all cases is as follows:

129 are Imported
156 are Local transmission, with known contact/source
21 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source, and
24 are under investigation

It should be noted that as investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is greater than 1 (1.26).

Bermuda’s country status is under review but is currently “Clusters of Cases”. The determination of the country status is done in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization which reviews country data on a daily basis.

As you can see, today’s results are not good: 24 new cases to report in just one day. We must do better at curbing risky behaviours that lead to further spread of COVID-19. We must do the following:

Reduce your bubble sizes - choose only one or two other households to socialise with for the next few weeks.
When you meet others, meet outdoors and wear masks and observe physical distancing.
Wear your mask properly! Wearing a mask with your nose is exposed is like not wearing a mask at all!
Consider postponing events until it's safer.
Avoid indoor spaces, crowded places and close contacts.
And ensure your workplace is following COVID-19 protocols.

The Ministry’s contact tracing investigations strongly suggest that it is social mixing or gatherings of people that are most likely to produce local transmission and positive cases…as is currently happening now. Many cases are asymptomatic. So just because your friends and coworkers don’t seem sick, doesn’t mean they do not have COVID-19…And they might be unwittingly passing it on to you.

One glimmer of positivity in this week’s statistics is that our current cases seem to be, for the most part, linked to well-defined clusters. This doesn’t mean that there is necessarily a link to imported cases but it is good news (from a contact tracing perspective) that they can be linked to common exposure events and locations.

But if people ignore public health measures, we will see more and more cases and head down the path to community transmission.

‘Community transmission’, as defined by the World Health Organization, means when you have so many clusters and so many unidentified incidences of COVID-19 that it’s impossible to find links between cases. Fortunately, we are not at that point as yet but, as I said, we must each play our part to ensure it stays that way.

One thing that helps protect our community is obeying quarantine instructions…

If the Ministry of Health has contacted you to tell you that you or your child is a close contact of a case and must be quarantined, this means remaining home from school, work and other activities for 14 days. In the case of children, this means not attending birthday parties, sporting events, social and extra-curricular activities. I now want to say a few words on that last point…regarding extracurricular activities…

From reports I am hearing, there seems to be a discrepancy between the school environment and children's extra-curricular activities in terms of ensuring protective health measures are followed. In school, children are kept in their year group and class bubbles; something which the schools and teachers have worked extremely hard to maintain. But in sports clubs and during other extracurricular activities, I am hearing that children from many schools are meeting and interacting socially. This is making the bubbles that are created at school much less useful in preventing spread. Therefore I am appealing to parents and organizations that run these activities to please be mindful of this and act in accordance with the health guidelines posted on coronavirus.gov.bm.

As it relates to the parents who are watching their children partake in these activities, I want to remind you that if you are not able to physically distance, you must wear a mask. Yes, even if you are outside.

I will now provide information on further testing opportunities for residents….

First of all, I would like to thank all of those GPs who assist us with testing; your help is crucial to building up Bermuda’s testing capacity.

Our new testing schedule, which is operative as of December 14, will provide testing continuity for our residents as it will not change month by month; it will be a fixed schedule.

Also, we have added more testing slots. The new locations create more capacity for community and group testing…as well as symptomatic testing.

Furthermore, our new locations provide us with shelter from the elements as they can be converted from a drive-through functionality to indoor locations. Currently if it rains, pop-ups have to close; these new locations give us certainty that testing can proceed - rain blow or shine, regardless of the weather.

The new schedule will be as follows:

Testing on Mondays will take place at Bull's Head Car Park from 10am until 2pm for non-symptomatic persons and 2pm to 4pm for symptomatic persons.
On Tuesdays, testing will take place at the Star of India in Dockyard from 11am until 3pm for non-symptomatic persons and 3pm to 5pm for symptomatic persons.
On Wednesdays, it will take place at Pennos’ Wharf in St. George’s from 11am until 3pm for non-symptomatic persons and 3pm to 5pm for symptomatic persons.
On Thursdays testing will take place at the Star of India from 11am until 3pm for non-symptomatic persons and 3pm to 5pm for symptomatic persons.
On Fridays testing will be at Bull’s Head from 10am until 2pm for non-symptomatic persons and 2pm to 4pm for symptomatic persons.
On Saturday testing will take place at Bull's Head from 9am until 2pm for non-symptomatic persons and 2pm to 4pm for symptomatic persons.
And on Sundays testing will take place at Penno’s Wharf from 11am to 5pm for travellers and non-symptomatic persons.
Persons can go online this evening to book appointments.

Additional community testing was being arranged at Perot Post Office between 10am and 2pm, with the aim of starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, as a result of the increased number of positive cases, we must focus most immediately on the testing needs that arise from the contact tracing investigations. These are the priority cases, and regrettably we cannot accommodate walk-ins at this time.

To be clear, for those who have appointments at the pop-ups, we will be moving the appointments made for December 14 and after to the new sites; we will send out email correspondence directly to persons with new locations and times for testing.

Going forward, there will be no more pop-ups at the MarketPlace. The Ministry of Health would like to deeply thank the MarketPlace for being such a gracious and accommodating partner for the past few months. This partnership has been crucial in the success of our rigorous testing regime.

I want to remind the public that effective today, 8th December 2020 all residents and visitors to Bermuda are required to wear a Traveller Wristband for the first 14 days of their stay. The Wristbands serve to remind travellers to be careful of their movements and follow the “First 14 Days” guidance in order to help us minimize COVID spread. The Wristbands also remind the public of the additional precautions for travellers during those first 14 days.

However, I want to remind everyone that Bermuda’s borders are open and we continue to welcome visitors and our returning residents home. The increased number of COVID-19 cases has made it necessary to step up a number of precautions across many sectors, in order to avoid more stringent measures. But Bermuda is known for our hospitality and friendliness, and the Wristbands should serve as a reminder to locals to extend a warm welcome to the wearer and show our traditional warm, Bermudian hospitality. While we have to maintain our physical distance, we can and must show even greater kindness and cordiality to all incoming travelers.

I should note that removal of the wristband is not permitted and can result in a fine of $500 and home quarantine with an electronic monitoring bracelet. Persons who do not wish to wear the Traveller Wristband will quarantine at their accommodation for 14 days.

On Saturday the Ministry of Health advised members of the public that an individual who attended the funeral of Charles Henry Eugene Eberly on Saturday, 28 November 2020 at Malabar has since tested positive for COVID-19.

We advised any member of the public who attended this event to call the COVID-19 hotline to arrange COVID-19 testing. So far, we are aware of nine positives associated with this funeral.

But we only know the status of those who have tested; and therefore we are urging everyone who went to the funeral to get tested. It is vital in ensuring we halt further spread.

On that same topic of getting necessary information, last night Government issued a release asking for members of the public who had attended three particular venues at certain times during the weekend of November 28/29 to contact the Ministry of Health to arrange COVID-19 testing as there had been a potential COVID-19 exposure at each venue. This advisory was issued because our contact tracers had not received adequate contact tracing information from these locations and the advisory was the most expedient way to contact all those individuals who may have attended these events. One site which was mentioned was FryDay’s Trampoline Park on 28th November between 11am and 9pm. We can confirm that FryDays has provided us with the required information, so those who need to be contacted will be contacted. Regrettably, we received this information several hours after we requested it. As is the case with many investigations, the first 24 hrs are vital in establishing the close contacts. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of supplying the contact tracing information as soon as possible when it is requested. This is absolutely critical.

And now a quick update regarding the COVID-19 vaccine:

I want to reassure members of the public that vaccine selection is a carefully considered process prior to its distribution. The Ministry of Health will monitor the vaccine’s rollout in the United Kingdom and ensure the cold chain requirements and any safety concerns before distribution in Bermuda.

When we are independently satisfied that we are going the right way with the right vaccine for our population, then we will start vaccinating our residents, and not before.

We will start with vaccinating people who are medically vulnerable, seniors, healthcare workers and the essential workers.

In the coming weeks, we will be organizing series of interactive sessions to encourage the public to ask questions and get direct answers from medical professionals

In closing, I would like to ask persons who are contacted by our contact tracers to please be forthcoming with information as it pertains to your close contacts. We need this to be able to trace the potential spread… The confidential information you provide to the contact tracers may help to may save a life.

Thank you.

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