Bermuda sadly recorded a second death in as many days due to COVID-19, marking the 37th death since the pandemic erupted last year, amid warnings that “this outbreak is spreading quickly in our community”.
Health Minister Kim Wilson announced another curfew will go into effect on Friday (Sept 17), under new public safety restrictions, as the number of active cases jumped past the 1,000 mark to 1,083.
Speaking at a technical briefing yesterday, she said “a further 150 positive results – the record for a single day”, were received by the health department on Wednesday from 2,949 tests.
She was accompanied by Dr Wesley Miller, the Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) Chief of Staff, who said both the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and the satellite ICU were full.
But he said there are vacancies in a second satellite unit that was set up last week.
At last check there were 12 people in ICU – up from ten on Tuesday, with a total of 42 people in hospital battling the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Dr Miller also stated that 21 BHB staff had tested positive for the virus – 17 of which were unvaccinated, which was causing major staffing issues with staff absent due to COVID-related issues.
According to the latest figures, only one (1) of the 150 new cases was imported. The remaining 149 new cases were classified as either local transmission or they remain under investigation.
“This outbreak is spreading quickly in our community – in close settings, with mixed households, people not following the guidance, getting out and about in our community with symptoms, and not adequately using personal protective equipment,” said the Minister.
“These restrictions are necessary to protect our community. They’re not designed to make people’s lives harder, and we must strike a balance between protecting the island and protecting our economy.
“If we do not follow public health guidelines and safety measures, our community spread will continue,” she added.
She also stressed that work environments had been a major cause of previous spikes, which has played a major role in the current spike.
“This happened in December, in April and it’s happening again now. When will we learn?
“Your colleagues are not part of your personal household bubble – When will we ever learn?”
The Minister also warned that further measures could be introduced.
“If people aren’t prepared to exercise a certain amount of responsibility then we have to come down with the heavy hand of the law,”she said.
The Minister opened her remarks “by offering sincere condolences to those who recently lost a family member, a friend, a neighbour or a colleague in circumstances related to the coronavirus”.
“And I ask everyone to keep in your prayers those persons currently in hospital with COVID-19 related illness,” she added.
Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 4,027 confirmed coronavirus cases, out of which 2,907 have recovered, and sadly 37 COVID related deaths.
The source of all active cases is as follows:
● 83 are Imported
● 209 are classified as local transmission of which:
o 209 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
o 0 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
● 791 are Under Investigation
Active cases by vaccination status, transmission, and type:
• Imported cases: 85% are fully vaccinated and 15% are not vaccinated
• Local/Under Investigation cases: 28% are fully vaccinated and 72% are not vaccinated
• Variant typing is not available at this time due to the prioritisation of test results.
The source of all confirmed cases is as follows:
· 540 are Imported
· 2,623 are classified as local transmission of which:
o 2,098 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
o 525 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
· 864 are Under Investigation
The new changes to the current Public Health Emergency Powers Regulations, which go into effect on Friday, September 17, are as follows:
♦ To protect against future rises in hospital admissions, a curfew will be instituted from 12:30am until 5am daily for the next two weeks. While the essential services will be exempt, as they and others have been exempt during previous curfews, the expectation during this night-time curfew is that the general public will be in their home.
♦ Due to the transmissibility and severity of the Delta variant, the large group’s size will be reduced from 50 to 20 for the next four weeks. The mitigating change is a preventative measure to assist in evading spread.
♦ To minimise the risk of spread in our hospitality settings, restaurants, bars, night clubs and sports or members clubs will be required to limit tables to no more than ten customers and to space these tables six feet apart. Bar service will continue to be permitted but you must be seated. No standing at the bar.
♦ The legislation will be amended to include the power for the Police to close a premise where there is non-compliance with public health directions.
♦ Additionally, no raft ups will be allowed for any boats, whether recreational or commercial.
♦ Wearing face masks indoors continues to be required, and must be worn in crowded outdoor settings as well where a six feet physical distance cannot be maintained.
♦ To further reduce the rate of spread and the mixing of households, we urge anyone who can work from home to do so. There are many businesses in Bermuda that can manage their workloads and workflows from home, and they should do this.
♦ Work environments are a source of transmission. Let me repeat, this includes driving in the same car or truck to get to a work site.
♦ Your colleagues are not part of your personal household bubble. If you must go to work, do not mix and mingle with your co-workers without wearing a mask.
♦ Sharing a lunch or break room without adequate protection has also led to outbreaks.