On-island Covid-19 testing has begun

  • Increased testing capacity: David Burt, the Premier, provides an update on Government’s approach to Covid-19 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Increased testing capacity:  Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

On-island tests for Covid-19 have started and more test kits are expected to arrive in Bermuda over the next two weeks, the Premier said yesterday.

David Burt added that the maximum turnaround time for results would be 48 hours.

Mr Burt said: “This is a significant step, and is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Helix Laboratories and the Bermuda Hospitals Board, and I am certain this is relieving news for the community.

“The Ministry of Health is currently being guided by Public Health England and the Pan American Health Organisation every step of the way.”

He added that on-island testing would help the Ministry of Health to quickly identify and address any potential spread of the virus.

He said that samples were collected at the hospital yesterday, they would be processed today and tomorrow and the results were expected on Sunday.

Samples were at first sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad & Tobago to be tested, which meant a four to five day wait for results.

Mr Burt said that Bermuda had 150 tests and that the original order was for 950.

He explained that the remaining 800 tests were expected to arrive on the island over the next two weeks.

Mr Burt added: “In addition, the Ministry has placed another order to make sure there is increased testing capacity as we go forward over the next few weeks.”

The Premier also warned the public not to buy inaccurate “Covid-19 point of care” blood tests that promised instant results.

He said: “The Ministry of Health is unaware of any valid data that rapid point of care tests for Covid-19 have been independently scientifically validated to give viable results.

“The use of non-validated testing can produce a false negative result, which could lull people into a false sense of security and unconsciously lead to more spreading of Covid-19.”

Mr Burt said test criteria used by the Government came from the World Health Organisation, and that “not every single person in Bermuda” was eligible to be tested.

He said: “As we know, there is a limited testing supply in Bermuda — however, the Ministry of Health may test people who may have been exposed to persons who have tested positive.”

However, Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said 18 people who might have been in contact with the two patients, such as family members and coworkers, had been traced, and none showed symptoms of illness.

She said that at present it would be normal practice to only give a test to people who showed symptoms of the illness as the island had “a minimal amount of tests”.

Ms Wilson added: “Normally we test persons that have symptoms, because if you test symptomless patients the results can be false negative or false positive.”

She said a false negative would be “detrimental because a person could be informed they do not have it when in fact they do because there are no antibodies in their system at the time of testing”.

To read the Premier’s remarks in full, click on the PDF below “Related Media”.