Bermuda Post

Monday, Mar 08, 2021

No new COVID-19 cases reported in Bermuda, 4,897 vaccinated

There were 306 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update, and none were positive for COVID-19. 
Additionally, since the last update, one case has recovered.

There are currently 11 active cases, of which;

· Seven are under public health monitoring and

· Four are in hospital with none in critical care;

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 692 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 669 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 one year to greater than 100 years.

The mean age of all currently active cases is 55 years (median: 50 years), and the ages range from less than 30 years (age group: 20-29 years) to greater than 80 years (age group: 80-100 years).

To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the 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:

· 200 are Imported

· 489 are classified as local transmission of which:

· 399 are local transmission with known contact/source and

· 90 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source

· Three are under investigation

As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change. Today’s update has 2 cases moving from under investigation to local transmission with unknown contact/source.

Of the more than 160,000 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.

The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than 1 (0.39) and Bermuda’s current country status is “Sporadic Cases”

I would now like to provide an update on the COVID-19 vaccination programme…

We have completed the third full week of vaccinations, and the first full week of vaccinations using two Vaccination Centres. For the period through to 30 January 2021, Bermuda has vaccinated a total of 4897 persons – representing an additional 1965 persons - and the breakdown is as follows:

· a total of 2123 or 43% males and 2774 or 57% females

· with 1039 or 21% persons who are under 50,

· 1108 or 23% persons between 50 and 64,

· 1741 or 35% between 65 and 79, and

· 1009 or 21% persons who are over 80 years old.

However, by including yesterday’s number we have well exceeded 5000 vaccinations, including more than 200 persons who are now fully immunized.

We would note data is generally provided by Epi week and any data provided within 1-2 days of vaccination is considered preliminary.

Of the vaccine sites, and based on the Epi week ending 30 January,

· the Vaccination Centre at the Police Recreation Club administered 3084 or 63% of vaccinations,

· 182 or 4% were administered at rest homes,

· 1573 or 32% were administered by the Bermuda Hospitals Board; and

· 58 or 1% were administered at Corrections.

Assessed against our vaccination targets, the Ministry can report that of the first groups in Phase 1A, we have vaccinated

· 1009 persons or 32% of those aged 80 years or older,

· 326 persons or 44% of those in rest homes and long term care facilities,

· 676 or 28% of health care workers, and,

· 960 or 41% of essential service workers.

Whilst we are pleased with the numbers of persons vaccinated thus far, we must ensure that all persons in the critical groups that are at risk are safely vaccinated. If you know anyone in any of our high-risk target groups who has not registered their interest in getting the vaccine, please encourage or help them to register online at: forms.gov.bm/covidvaccine.

The second batch of 19,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived last Friday, after being delayed by one day due to the inclement weather we experienced.

The arrival of these additional doses means that we can now start moving towards Phase 2 of the National Allocation Strategy. While we continue to ask those in Priority Group 1(A) or 1(B) to register their interest and be vaccinated, we are also asking those residents in Phase 2, to register their interest online. Phase 2 is people 50 years and older, as well as vulnerable people (those with heart disease, chronic kidney or liver disease, and diabetes, for example), essential travellers and residents with disabilities.

I must repeat - registering your interest does not guarantee you an appointment at this time. When you submit your registration form, you will receive an auto-generated submission receipt. Your submission will be filed, and you will be contacted as appointments are scheduled. Please remember that appointments are based on a medical risk assessment that, in turn, is based on age and clinical vulnerability, and this is carried out manually by the medical team. Every submission will be replied to, and there is no need for you to re-submit.

With regard to the numbers of persons who have registered interest… To the week ending January 30, 13,227 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:

· 2261 Black

· 6717 White

· 1187 Mixed or Other

· 3062 Not Specified or Prefer not to say

It is important to note that our data confirms that trends of black registration are climbing.

The initial need to prioritize the first shipment of doses is under constant review, especially as we have now received an additional vaccine shipment. Our overarching goal is access to the vaccines by every resident, and we will constantly be adjusting to assure and enhance access to vaccines by all.

For those of you who have registered already – thank you. I want to ask those people who are waiting for their appointment to please be patient as the ministry continues to clinically assess each registration.

While you wait, though, please read the COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Consent Form online at gov.bm/vaccines. This document contains important information about the vaccine, and it will make the process at the Vaccination Centre quicker if you read it before you get there.

As we continue to receive more doses of the vaccine and transition through the phases, there may be changes to the existing protocols, and these changes will be widely communicated to the public as they become effective.

One such change is that we now require residents to bring a Bermuda Drivers License or proof of residence when you come to your vaccination appointment. A second change is that all those arriving by car to the Police Club must check in first at the Clyde Best Centre. Please do not drive straight up to the Police Club. What has not changed is that vaccinations at both vaccination centres are administered by appointment only.

The Ministry of Health continues its work reviewing and assessing potentially suitable locations to serve as additional vaccine centres. This is necessary because as of yesterday, February 1st, we are now administering both first doses and second doses. This means we must increase our capacity in order to reach our goal of vaccinating approximately one third of the population by 31 March.

I would ask all residents who are scheduled to receive their second dose - please do not miss your appointment! This is critically important for two reasons:

First – as the vaccine has strict quality and storage standards, the Ministry prepares the doses daily based on the scheduled appointments for the day. As such, we must closely monitor the doses and make sure that all doses prepared are actually administered. Our mandate is to ensure we do not waste a single dose, so please attend your appointment as scheduled.

Second – the two-dose regimen, as recommended byPfizer, 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.

Wearing masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene and downloading the WeHealth Bermuda app will help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough.

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.

We understand that some people may be hesitant, but we are confident that as you do your own research through trusted sources, you will be able to make an informed choice. As the Premier has said before, the Government is committed to ensuring that all residents have access to accurate and up-to-date information. Please visit www.gov.bm/vaccine to learn how the vaccine works, find out about its safety, review the benefits, and more.

We owe it to ourselves and to our loved ones to use every tool at our disposal to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus, and the vaccine is without a doubt the most valuable and effective tool we have.

Also, the Ministry acknowledges that there are several persons in our target groups Phase 1A and 1B who mistakenly provided the wrong phone number when registering, thus preventing the Hotline team from contacting them to make an appointment. If you are in one of these first two groups, particularly if you are more than 80 years old, please contact the Vaccine Hotline at 444-2489 (option #2) to make sure you get vaccinated.

With respect to the COVID-19 testing generally…

Residents needing outbound tests must book themselves in for outbound travel testing via one of the community sites – Pennos 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.

We recommend you book two days before the date you plan to leave Bermuda. This meets the 72-hour rule of the US, UK and, when flights resume, Canada, and gives MDL lab more leeway to process results in time for your departure.

As the half-term school break approaches, the Ministry of Health advises against non-essential travel off the island for all Bermuda residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if travel is absolutely necessary, the Ministry of Health has developed guidance for the Safe Return to School and Day Care after Travel. These guidance requirements are the minimum recommended for schools and day cares and shall be used to implement policies for teachers, staff, children and parents in school and day care settings. You can find this guidance at gov.bm/coronavirus-schools.

In closing, I also have an update regarding saliva testing.

The World Health Organization currently does not recommend the use of saliva as the sole specimen type for routine clinical diagnostics. However, saliva may be used in specific cases where collecting nasopharyngeal swabs can be problematic such as mass screening or, especially, when elderly persons with dementia or young children may be involved. As such, Bermuda has implemented saliva screening programme in which any person testing as a “presumed positive” on saliva must also have a nasopharyngeal sample tested for diagnostic confirmation.

Saliva screening of select populations began on 28 September 2020. These populations include: long term care facility staff and residents; BHB staff and patients; select essential service workers; other vulnerable populations; and, other select groups, such as hospitality workers.

As of 30 January 2021, results have been received for 4467 saliva screenings, of which two (0.04%) have been presumed positive. These numbers have not been previously reported for the afore-mentioned reasons – they are screening rather than confirmatory tests. We intend to find a way to report these stats so that we give recognition for the screening work that is being performed locally and to maintain public confidence that we remain vigilant for outbreaks in general. Of the two presumed positives, one (1) was confirmed as positive by nasopharyngeal swab. The mean age of all persons screened is 59 years (median: 59 years), and the ages range from less than ten years to greater than 100 years.

Finally, until we achieve herd immunity, we encourage you to get tested to know your status, register to get vaccinated and never forget to avoid the 3Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.
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