Bermuda Post

Monday, Mar 01, 2021

No new COVID-19 cases reported, 15% of the Bermuda population have received one dose of vaccine

No new COVID-19 cases reported, 15% of the Bermuda population have received one dose of vaccine

There were 242 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update, and none were positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, since the last update, there were no recoveries.

There are currently four active cases, of which;

· Three are under public health monitoring and

· One is in hospital with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 695 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 679 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.

The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years (median: 40 years), and the ages range from less than 1 year to greater than 100 years.

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

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

The source of all cases is as follows:

· 201 are imported

· 493 are classified as local transmission of which:

· 402 are local transmission with known contact/source and

· 91 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source

· 1 is under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.

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

Additionally, during the week of 7 to 13 February, 253 saliva screening tests were conducted. Therefore, as of 13 February 2021, results have been received for 5,123 saliva screenings. The mean age of all persons screened is 59 years (median: 59 years), and the ages range from less than 10 years to greater than 100 years.

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

On the subject of testing…

Again, I will remind residents needing outbound COVID-19 tests that you must book yourself in for outbound travel testing via one of the community sites at Penno’s Wharf, Bull’s Head or Star of India. Do not go to Perot Post Office for this.

You can book through: gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins.

It is critical to book at least two days before the date you plan to leave Bermuda. This meets the 72-hour rule imposed by the US, UK and Canada, and gives the MDL lab more leeway to process results in time for your departure.

You should not get the test the day before or the day of travel as this leaves no room for unexpected delays. Please visit gov.bm for information on outbound testing.

I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme...

We have completed the fifth full week of vaccinations, and the third week using two Vaccination Centres operating six days a week. For the five week period from January 11 to February 13, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 12,568 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 13,155 if you include yesterday’s vaccinations as well! – all of which is a great achievement.

Of the 12,568 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on which ends February 13,

· 6,983 (or 56%) are women, and,

· 5,585 (or 44%) are men.

Bermuda’s goal of “herd immunity” will be achieved when 70% of the population (64,054) has been immunized. To date, 15% of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose) and 4% of the population has been immunized (with 2 doses)

Each week since January 11 has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations administered, with 3,467 vaccinations delivered last week. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:

· The Vaccination Centre at the Police Recreation Club administered 7,135 or 57% of vaccinations,

· 697 or 5% were administered at rest homes and long term care facilities,

· 4641 or 37% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre, and,

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

Assessed against Bermuda’s vaccination priority targets:-

In Phase 1A

· 1,834 persons or 59% of those aged 80 years and older have been vaccinated. 1,300 have had one vaccination, and 534 (17%) are fully immunized.

· 370 person or 50% of residents in rest homes and long term care have been vaccinated. 96 have had one vaccination, and 274 (37%) are fully immunized.

· 1,226 health care workers or 50% have been vaccinated. 346 have had one vaccination and 880 (36%) are fully immunized.

· 1,192 essential workers or 50 % have been vaccinated. 634 have had one vaccination and 558 (24%) are fully immunized.

In Phase 1B

· 4,161 persons or 44% of those aged 65 – 79 years have been vaccinated. 3,627 have had one vaccination and 568 (6%) are fully immunized.

These are great results so far, and I would like to thank all those who have taken the step to get their vaccination to protect themselves, their families and our community. I want to continue to encourage our extremely clinically vulnerable persons, healthcare workers and people over the age of 80 to please get the vaccination. We need you, as the backbone of our community, to be one step closer to safety in this pandemic.

With that, I would also like to announce that we are moving to Phase 2 of the National Vaccination Allocation Strategy now.

In Phase 2 we encourage anyone over 50, an essential traveller (medical or school travel), persons with heart disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, for example, as well as those with disabilities, to register their interest.

Although we are moving to Phase 2, please remember that registering your interest does not guarantee you an appointment immediately. When you submit your registration form, you will receive an automated confirmation receipt. When an appointment is available, you will receive an email and text message to confirm your appointment. Some appointments will continue to be made by phone as well.

Priority will still be given to those persons in Phases 1A and B - this includes people who are 80 or older, care home residents, health care and essential workers, people 65 or older and people who are extremely vulnerable, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or with severe asthma or COPD.

Remember, our appointment system is based on a medical risk assessment that, in turn, is based on age and clinical vulnerability. I am stressing this because we continue to receive complaints that some younger people get the vaccine before older people. Please know essential workers are in Phase 1A, and some of these people are younger than seniors with no medical conditions. Also, please remember that medical risk assessment is necessary to set appointments. Except in limited circumstances, our medical team can’t look at a person and diagnose their medical conditions; that is why we do a medical risk assessment.

With regard to the numbers of persons who have registered interest… To the week ending February 13, 17,605 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:

· 3,712 Black

· 8,580 White

· 1,833 Mixed or Other, and,

· 3,480 Prefer not to say or Not Specified.

For those of you who have registered already – thank you and please encourage your loved ones who may be in the priority groups to register. We cannot do this alone. If you wish to find out more information about the vaccine and how to support your loved ones, visit: gov.bm/vaccine. It is especially important that we continue to do everything we can to try and reduce the spread of this deadly virus. This includes continuing to wear masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene and downloading the WeHealth Bermuda app - but these measures are not enough by themselves.

To repeat, again, getting vaccinated is important as the vaccine will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. If you do get COVID-19, you are likely to experience milder symptoms and become less ill, as your body is better able to fight off the virus.

Those who are not vaccinated are at a higher risk of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus and, if they become infected, they are more likely to develop serious illness compared with those who have been vaccinated.

They also risk further passing their infection onto others. This includes people in the population who are unable to develop an immune response to fight infectious diseases and are at a high of serious complications and death. Remember that not everyone can be vaccinated.

There are people with underlying health conditions such as a severe allergy to a vaccine component who may not be able to get vaccinated. These people can still be protected if they live among others who are vaccinated. When a lot of people in a community are vaccinated the virus has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are immune. In other words, the virus comes up against a ‘dead end’.

The more others are immunized, the less likely it is that people who are unable to be vaccinated are put at risk of even being exposed to the virus. This is the herd immunity that is our goal.

I am also pleased to say the new COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at the Bermuda College Campus on South Shore in Paget opened yesterday. With capacity for up to 10 vaccination stations, this vaccination centre replaces the vaccination centre at the Police Recreation Club. There will now be two sites – the Bermuda College Campus and Bermuda Hospitals Board. These two sites will allow the Ministry to dramatically increase the number of doses administered to our community when needed.

The Bermuda College Vaccination Centre will be open Monday-Saturday from 8.00am to 8.00pm and vaccinations will continue to be on an appointment only basis. PLEASE no walk-ins. I would also like to remind all residents who had their first vaccination at the Police Recreation Club, that their second vaccinations will be at the Bermuda College Vaccination Centre. Again, if your second appointment was scheduled for Prospect, you will need to go to the Bermuda College for your second dose. You will receive reminder emails of your appointments.

And please do not miss your second dose. It is extremely important to receive both doses as the two-dose regimen is proven to be dramatically more effective. While you get some immunity - approximately 52% - from the first injection, the second dose boosts the immunity to 95% effectiveness.

If you do have to change your appointment, we ask that you call the Vaccination Hotline at 444 2498 (option #2) or email vaccine@gov.bm as soon as you can so that we can re-schedule your appointment.

Regarding changes in requirements and restrictions once a person is immunised…

As many know, ending this pandemic largely rests on the success of vaccines in preventing COVID-19 and limiting its spread. However, vaccines are not a silver bullet that will see an immediate end to the pandemic. While COVID-19 vaccines approved for use are confirmed to be safe and effective, the research about the length of time they provide protection and limit transmission is ongoing. The reality is that successful attempts to control the virus will require global cooperation and equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines.

In Bermuda, we estimate that 70% of the population needs to be fully vaccinated for us to achieve herd immunity. It will take some time to reach that goal, and so a more immediate goal is the immunization of 90% of persons over 65 years – this is our most vulnerable group. The public health measures will continue but will be adjusted as follows:

· Persons who are fully immunized, and providing proof of this, will no longer be subject to the Travellers’ First 14 Days as it pertains to activities such as dining indoors, attending meetings and playing close contact sports, however,

· Persons who are fully immunized will continue to be subject to the traveller testing regime of a pre-arrival, on arrival and day 4, 8 and 14 tests.

These changes will come into force on I March but public health measures such as mask wearing, restrictions on the size of large gatherings, the number of people seated at tables in restaurants, and table service rather than bar service will continue at this time, whether or not you are immunized.

Finally, it is important to note the Ministry will continue to be vigilant in monitoring the key performance indicators of:

· Number of confirmed cases

· WHO transmission classification

· Vaccine transmissibility data

· Reproduction number and

· % of population immunised (total and by priority groups especially for most vulnerable)

We are able to make these changes largely because we have been functioning with controlled border requirements for several months now – we are already open to travellers.

My closing message to everyone is to continue to follow the public health measures and guidelines put in place for our collective safety. Continue to wear your mask and practice physical distancing. And get vaccinated when it is your turn.

As always, stay safe, Bermuda, and, remember, I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me.
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