There were 808 test results submitted on Thursday and the good news is there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Ministry of Health.

Speaking at the latest government briefing on Thursday, Health Minister Kim Wilson said: “Bermuda has had 159 total confirmed positive cases.”

To date, 145 have recovered, and there are five active cases – all under active public health monitoring. None of them are hospitalized or in critical care and the total deceased remains at nine.

“The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 59 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years,” said Ms Wilson.

“Overall, 54 percent of all cases are Black, 42 percent are white and 4 percent are other or unknown.”

Of all the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bermuda, 55 are Imported, 85 are Local transmission, with known contact, 19 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and none are under investigation.

“Bermuda’s country status remains “Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than 1.

“Between July 13 and August 10, 1,869 residents have arrived in Bermuda via commercial flight; 970 of whom have had a pre-departure test. We have also had 2,463 visitor arrivals; 2,349 of whom have had a pre-departure test,” the Minister added.

“The gap in visitors’ pre-tests is because when the borders first opened the pre-departure test requirement was not enforced to allow a transition window.

“Since it became a legal requirement there have been few cases of visitors arriving on island without their negative test result, although in such cases they did receive it shortly after. Compliance is very close to 100% and further measures are being taken to enforce this fully for visitors.

“I really want to encourage residents returning to the island to have a pre-departure test before travelling. Although it is not legally required for you to do so, it provides an added layer of public health protection and also means that you do not need to quarantine – you are free to roam as soon as you get the results from your Arrivals test.

“Currently, residents without a pre-test have to quarantine until they receive the results of their day 4 test. This can take 24 hours, so in reality they must quarantine for 5 days, and may only leave their home to attend the Perot traveller testing centre for their scheduled test on day 4.

“The government is currently reviewing the policy regarding residents without pre-departure tests as there are serious concerns that 12 of the 13 imported cases have been residents, and a majority of the positive cases did not have pre-departure tests.

“Also, I must reiterate that all residents must have a Travel Authorization in order to travel….and that all returning residents must comply with the testing regime and public health monitoring for 14 days when returning to the island – the only exceptions regarding testing are children aged nine and under.

“Yes, this may be inconvenient – and the Ministry of Health has tried to minimise inconveniences as much as possible – but we in the midst of a pandemic…which claims lives…and we must never forget that. Saving lives and having a healthy community must be at the forefront of all of our decisions – from the Governmental level down to our individual daily choices.

Highlights of the Minister’s full statement:

On returning to work guidance if you are working in a high exposure risk setting…as this has changed slightly this week based on consultation with Bermuda’s physician community. This guidance applies to workers with close, sustained contact with the public and includes institutional settings, for example:

  • Care homes;
  • Patient care settings;
  • Corrections;
  • and Health Professionals.

Our travel policy recommendation is that employees in these settings should not return to their physical workplace until they receive their 14-day test result. The rationale for this is that they work in a high risk setting with vulnerable persons and could risk causing a dangerous outbreak. Sometimes it is possible to work remotely through telemedicine.

However, if the healthcare worker is considered essential to providing critical healthcare services, and awaiting a 14-day test result is not possible, the following standard may be applied at the discretion of the workplace managers who must assume responsibility for compliance monitoring and for outcomes:

  • They must have negative test results from their arrival, Day 4 and Day 8 tests before returning to high risk exposure work.
  • The healthcare worker must also complete the final COVID-19 PCR testing on Day 14.
  • They should practice workplace isolation until Day 14 test results are received.
  • The healthcare worker must wear a surgical mask at all times unless a higher level of PPE is required for healthcare procedures being undertaken.
  • They must complete daily self-monitoring and documentation of temperature and symptoms for 14 days after arrival.
  • They must complete all subsequent testing according to Traveller Guidance, and must maintain physical distancing and hand hygiene.
  • They should inform their patients and office staff of their travel history and quarantine process in advance of returning to the healthcare setting so that informed decisions can be made by patients and coworkers for their own health protection.

When I say “Essential” I mean that it is a direct healthcare service which is critical to the health and well-being of the community and Bermuda, and where no other local providers are available.

There is slightly different guidance for visiting specialists who are providing healthcare service or technical assistance not available from other physicians in Bermuda, and which are critical to the health and well-being of the community. They must adhere to the following:

  • The healthcare worker must complete COVID-19 PCR Testing as per the Quarantine [COVID-19] [No. 3] Order 2020
  • They must have two negative COVID-19 test results [pre-departure and arrival test results or arrival and Day 4 test results] before returning to high risk exposure work.
  • The healthcare worker must wear a surgical mask at all times unless higher level of PPE is required for healthcare procedures being undertaken
  • They must complete daily self-monitoring and documentation of temperature and symptoms for 14 days after arrival
  • They must practice workplace isolation until Day 14 test results are received.

‘Workplace isolation’ means staff should wear surgical/procedure masks and any additional PPE, based on usual routine practices and wear the PPE at all times in the workplace (acute care and non-acute care), not just during client care. The healthcare worker must also travel in a private vehicle, work in only one facility and self-isolate at home when outside of the workplace. The health care worker must not eat meals in shared spaces in the facility as they will have to remove the PPE to eat.

I just want to remind parents and summer camp organizers, schools and day cares of the requirements for children entering these settings following travel abroad.

In order for a child nine-years-old or younger to enter a summer camp or school following travel abroad, their parents or guardians who travelled with them must have three consecutive negative tests.

For a child 10 and older, they must have the three negative tests themselves. This will be either a pre-departure test, arrival test and Day 4 test or arrival test, Day 4 test and Day 8 test. This includes children of visitors and residents.

This also extends to staff members who have travelled – they must have three consecutive negative tests to return to work.

Summer camps, schools and day care are classified as a Medium Risk setting and therefore, should follow the advice listed on for ‘Safe Return to Work after Travel.

I end by reiterating that, in fact, residents should be restricting their travel to only essential business. This is not the time to take holidays or go on shopping trips. The risk is too high and it would surely be a terrible burden to live with if one were to cause Bermuda to have local transmission once again. Our testing regime protects us, but it is not perfect. Testing is a point in time snapshot and it is possible to be undetected and asymptomatic. So please limit your travel to essentials, shop Bermuda and, if you must travel, quarantine as required by our public health laws. They are there to keep you and your loved ones safe.