The Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has confirmed that six employees who work in a non-clinical department have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement released on Tuesday (Nov24) a spokeswoman said: “BHB’s employee health services department is working closely with the Department of Health to ensure contact tracing and investigations are completed.

“As a precaution, the entire department has been tested and quarantined.”

BHB CEO Michael Richmond, added: “We are doing all we can to support them, while ensuring all our other employees and patients are safe.

“These cases were not in a clinical area, but we still take them very seriously.

“Patient care services and visiting at this time will continue with all the usual COVID-19 precautions that are currently in place, including wearing masks and testing of all patient admissions and elective surgery cases.”

Moving forward, he said: “We are working diligently through our established processes with the Department of Health and information will be shared if needed as these actions and investigations are completed.”

In addition to “the usual testing of employees identified as contacts of the positive cases”, the spokeswoman said: “The board is also close to rolling out an ongoing programme of staff surveillance testing using saliva and front of nose testing, rather than the more invasive nasopharyngeal tests.”

While medical authorities were “excited by the good news about up-and-coming vaccines and improvements in treatments based on global developments”, Dr Richmond warned: “We are not out of the woods yet.

“As Bermuda’s only hospital we have stayed at a higher level of alert throughout the pandemic, despite Bermuda’s success in preventing transmission of COVID-19.

“This is an insidious disease, however, that can spread without people knowing they’re infected,” he added.

“As we have seen throughout the world, even the most successful countries in tackling the disease have had outbreaks.

“The surveillance testing will help us identify asymptomatic cases early, as we continue to do all we can to keep our vulnerable patients and employees safe.”