Health

Wilson warns of ‘serious wake-up call’

  • Virus warning: Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • David Burt, the Premier, at last night’s press conference (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Three new coronavirus cases are “a serious wake-up call” that the pandemic was still a threat, the Minister of Health warned yesterday.

Kim Wilson said that arrivals on the island must continue to limit their movements — even after two clear test results.

She added that all three new cases — out of Bermuda’s 149 total — had come in from overseas.

Two residents tested positive from the Delta flight from Atlanta on Monday and a visitor was found to have the virus after travel on the same service on Tuesday.

Ms Wilson said: “This week’s positive cases are a serious wake-up call that Covid-19 has not gone away.

“With our low Covid numbers, it is perhaps easy to forget that we are living in the midst of a pandemic, but the reality is that we are, and we need to take, the same precautions that we always have done to protect ourselves and our community.

“As I have said before, now is not the time for us to let our guard down.”

Ms Wilson added that public health teams started contact tracing of people on the flights after the positive results were detected.

She said: “A contact is assessed to see how close they were to the confirmed case, which would include someone who had been in direct contact with them and in this case seated immediately near them on the airplane for example.”

She added: “A low-risk contact, for example, does not require self-quarantine but should practise physical-distancing.

“Meanwhile, a high-risk contact is required to self-quarantine, remaining in their home or accommodation for 14 days and staying away from work or public places — this would be a person sitting near the person who is positive.”

But Ms Wilson added: “Every passenger on the plane does not have to quarantine for 14 days — only those who were close to the affected persons and they will know this because a public health officer would have contacted them.”

She warned air travellers: “If you are a passenger arriving into Bermuda, do not think that you can circulate among the community without precautions once you have received two negative test results.

“You are still not completely out of the woods yet until the 14 days has passed, even with those two negative results, so please continue to wear a mask, practise good hand hygiene, stay alert to any symptoms you may experience, practise physical-distancing, keep a log of your movements and try and restrict these movements as much as possible.”

She told the regular Covid-19 briefing that 283 coronavirus test results came back yesterday and none were positive.

Nine people with Covid-19 have died and 137 people have recovered from the coronavirus.

David Burt, the Premier, said that the decision to restart scheduled commercial flights to Bermuda was “not about putting profits or the economy over public health”. He added: “It is about making sure that people in this country have the opportunity to get safely back to work to provide for their families.”

Mr Burt said: “It is important to remember that Bermuda’s testing regime at our border is the most stringent regime in the world.

“There is no country that requires the amount of testing that Bermuda requires in order to keep our country safe.”

He added: “If the situation in the United States continues on its current trajectory, we may need to change rules to require ... residents who are travelling to the United States to require pre-departure tests before their return.

“We will continue to look at all issues and, as the Minister of Health has said, update our procedures based upon the risks that present themselves.”

The Premier reminded companies and people that they must notify the Government if they returned to work after they got payments from the unemployment benefits scheme.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, said that, after a review of the curfew hours, a recommendation was made to the Cabinet this week to continue with the midnight to 5am regime.

He added that permission for overnight camping around the Cup Match weekend was under consideration.

Colonel Burch said: “It will be based on a number of factors, how well we behave — and we have been — so that influences our considerations.

“But I guess the most significant portion of that is the assessment of the risk from a health perspective and so we will have fulsome discussions on that long before we get to Cup Match.”

To view the statements from the Premier and the Minister of Health, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”