Bermuda Post

Friday, Jun 25, 2021

Health Minister reports 2 new COVID-19 cases in Bermuda, 18 May 2021

Health Minister reports 2 new COVID-19 cases in Bermuda, 18 May 2021

The Ministry of Health received 858 test results since the last update, and two (2) were positive for coronavirus.
Both of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.

Additionally, since the last update, there were 37 recoveries and no deaths.

There are currently 136 active cases, of which;

· 127 are under public health monitoring and;

· Nine (9) are in the hospital, with two (2) in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 2479 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 2311 persons have recovered, and sadly, 32 COVID related deaths.

The source of all cases is as follows:

· 298 are Imported

· 2100 are classified as local transmission of which:

o 1655 are Local transmission with known contact/source and

o 445 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source

· 81 are Under Investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

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

Bermuda's current WHO country status remains "Community Transmission".

We continue to see our numbers getting better. Our number of active cases is falling, and our recoveries are increasing. This is all good news.

But we must continue to take this pandemic seriously. We are still in community transmission with 136 active cases, compared with 8 active cases just three months ago. There is still a high risk in our community that people can contract the virus.

We are trying to prevent new outbreaks, and I remain concerned that if we have social gatherings and events and mixing of households, we will have more cases. So, gatherings and mixing of households should be minimal, if they happen at all.

Similarly, while working from home is no longer mandatory, we strongly recommend that those who are able, continue to do so.

Community transmission of the coronavirus is real. Being disciplined in everything we do is going to help us. I think we are doing well, and I am confident that we can get the virus under control . . . follow the guidelines, get tested and please, speak to your physician about the vaccination.

I will now provide an update on our vaccination programme…

We have completed the eighteenth full week of vaccinations. From January 11 to May 15, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 65,497 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 66,564 if you include vaccinations administered between Sunday May 16h and Monday May 17th as well! –all of which is excellent news.

Of the 65,497 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on, which ends May 15th;

52% are women, and,
48% are men.
Significant progress has been made in vaccinating our most vulnerable population, and I am pleased to report

79.9% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination with 70.2% being fully immunised.

To date, 53.9% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose), and 47.7% of the population has been immunised (with 2 doses).

We’ve made remarkable progress, since our vaccination campaign began at the beginning of the year. The vaccine is extremely effective at preventing severe illness and death, which we saw demonstrated through the challenging outbreak that caused the Stay at Home regulations to be put in place.

I encourage everyone who wishes to be vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

For recent travellers, the Ministry of Health guidance is being updated to support vaccination after your day 4 negative COVID-19 test result. You no longer have to wait until after day 14.

You can get vaccinated at the Bermuda College, which is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 am until 1:00 pm for walk-ins.

You can also make an appointment to get vaccinated at Bermuda College between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. However, the Bermuda College is not open for vaccinations on the weekend.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board vaccine centre is open daily between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm for anyone with an appointment. This is especially convenient for people who are working during the day and who need an appointment in the evening or on the weekend.

Our mobile vaccination sites are also convenient as we visit various locations around the island, three times per week.

Later this week, the mobile vaccination programme will be at the following locations:

· Thursday, May 20, at the Southampton Princess from 10.00 am – 2.00 pm.

· Saturday, May 23, TCD in Hamilton from 10.00 am – 2.00 pm.

This week’s mobile vaccination programme will be for individuals who wish to get their first dose, as well as for those who need to receive their second vaccine shot, following their first dose three weeks ago. The vaccine is most effective after you receive the second dose, so don’t forget to go back to Southampton Princess or TCD to get that all important second shot.

Next week our mobile vaccination programme will be at the following locations:

· Tuesday, May 25, the Open Door Christian Fellowship in St. David’s from 10 am until 2 pm,

· Thursday, May 27, at the Sandy's Secondary Middle School from 4 pm until 7 pm, and,

· Saturday, May 29, at the National Sports Centre from 10 am until 2 pm.

These neighbourhood sites are for people who have not yet registered for the COVID-19 vaccine, do not have access to the internet, and prefer to register in person or have additional questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. There will be doctors on site to answer any questions you have, and you don't need an appointment. You can just show up and roll up your sleeve.

We recommend the Close to Home mobile programme as an ideal opportunity to learn more for those people who want to hear about the COVID-19 vaccine from a trusted source.

And please don’t forget that there is a free mini-bus service available to take people from their homes to the mobile vaccination sites and back to their homes afterwards. Call 533-5903 between 10.00 am and 1.30 pm if you need a ride to one of the mobile vaccination sites.

Anyone who feels they need a home visit for the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact vaccine@gov.bm, or call the hotline 444-2498 and select Option #2, and the team will arrange a visit in the coming weeks.

Since the mobile vaccination programme began on April 27, a total of 1,012 vaccines have been given as of May 16. About 90% of injections were administered to people receiving their first dose.

Parents who are interested in having their children vaccinated are encouraged to register their appropriately aged children on gov.bm so the Ministry of Health can gauge interest in being vaccinated.

The Food & Drug Administration and Health Canada have both approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 years old. Parents.

As the Memorandum of Understanding between the Bermuda Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office specifies the vaccine can be used on people aged 16 years and over, we are still working on a resolution of this issue before we can begin to administer the vaccine to the lower age group of 12 – 15 year olds.

As Bermuda reaches a milestone of having 50% of our population immunized, I would like to announce some changes to our guidance.

A number of people have asked, “Why aren’t we following the guidance issued by the Centres for Disease Control and Infection, the CDC, with respect to immunized persons?” I can say that each country has developed its own approach in battling the coronavirus. Bermuda takes into account the information, advice and guidance issued by trusted sources such as the World Health Organisation, Public Health England and, yes, the CDC. However, we cannot blindly follow other organisations. We must take into account our own situation as we adjust and adapt to the pandemic.

For example, the CDC has a quarantine period of ten days and does not require its citizens to ‘test out’ of quarantine. In Bermuda, however, we have found residents testing positive on day 8 and day 14, so we have not followed the CDC in advocating a shorter quarantine period, and we continue to require a negative test result to get out of quarantine.

Nonetheless, we are pleased to see our indicators moving in the right direction and will now update our guidance as it pertains to immunized persons. These relaxations apply to immunized persons only.

1. Return to work: If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from work unless you have symptoms but you must wear appropriate PPE and test at the beginning and end of COVID-19 incubation period. Certain workplaces, such as healthcare providers and Corrections may require a more strict application of this.


2. Mask wearing indoors: Indoor gatherings are allowed with other immunised people (i.e. those who have had two vaccine doses + 2 weeks have passed) without masks being worn. However, people with medical vulnerabilities should continue to wear masks if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

3. Mask wearing outdoors: Gatherings outdoors with other immunized people with no masks worn are allowed except in certain crowded and high risk settings or venues.

Given that Bermuda is still in community transmission, it is important to know that key public health measures will continue to be in force. These include having a curfew, limiting the size of gatherings and the number of people seated at a table and, most important, wearing a mask indoors where physical distancing cannot be achieved or the vaccination status of the people around you is unknown.

I cannot over-emphasise this point: after vaccination, mask wearing is the single most important public health measure you can take. If you are not vaccinated, wear that mask!

Also, before I end, I would like to address the timing of the traveller’s pre-arrival test. It was announced previously that the timeframe for the pre-arrival test would change from 5 days to 3 days, from 6 June. We have listened to the concerns expressed about this being too short a period to allow for a test result to be received. Therefore, from 6 June the Ministry will change the timeframe for the pre-arrival test from 5 days to 4 days.

Finally, I want to thank all of our health care team, our front line workers, our testing team, case management and the contact tracers, the vaccination team . . . all the people who go above and beyond the call of duty, every single day. They work incredibly hard to manage this pandemic and keep this island safe.

I also want to recognise our Emergency Medical Service providers. This is Emergency Medical Services Week, and we pay tribute to our paramedics and emergency medical technicians for their daily efforts and service to our community. Our EMS providers deliver essential care, they risk their lives, and they save lives.

Thank you, all, for everything you do. You all do an amazing job.

Please remember, each of us must do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. It is essential that we all follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app. Do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Stay safe, Bermuda, and don’t forget to avoid the three “Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings.
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