Health Minister Kim Wilson is expected to disclose the latest round of test results received by government on Tuesday in the ongoing bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The good news coming out of the briefing held on Tuesday – there were no more hospital admissions or deaths recorded as a result of this deadly disease, which has already claimed five lives in Bermuda.
As of Tuesday, “there were 38 test results received”.
“However they were received at 5pm so are still being processed and the individuals have to be informed.
“The full report is not yet available, but will be posted online as soon as possible,” she said.
“Everything we are doing in this community is to prevent this, by reducing the spread of the infection.
“But the facts are, right now, we don’t know how high the numbers are going to go.”
She also appealed to the public to help ‘free up’ beds at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to facilitate preparations for an increase in patients.
“This means you must do your part and be part of the solution, by taking your loved ones home, when they’re medically fit to leave hospital,” said the Minister, who also noted that some carriers exhibit no symptoms.
In that regard, she said reinfection “may be happening”.
Bermuda’s most vulnerable were advised to adopt “shielding measures, such as not attending stores or any gatherings and staying at home “at all times”.
She also disclosed that $20,000 had been donated to St John Ambulance from the Emergency Fund to provide transport to medical centres for people with symptoms of COVID-19.
The Minister opened her statement with a reminder to all, as seen around the world, she said COVID-19 is “a rapidly-evolving situation”.
“The disease was only discovered in late December and in less than four months, it’s ravaging the world,” said Ms Wilson.
“Just when we think we understand how it works, it throws us a curveball.
“Until recently, asymptomatic individuals were not thought to be contagious… but now it has been found that persons without symptoms can transmit the disease.
“Until last week evidence indicated that you could not get it twice… and now the evidence is still being gathered as to what may be happening in this regard,” she added.
“I think the take away from all of this is that the evidence is growing as the disease spreads.
“Guidance changes daily. No country has it completely under control. But, with your help, we think Bermuda has a strong chance of faring better than many.
“While COVID-19 is a mild condition in 80 percent of people, it can make some vulnerable persons seriously ill,” Ms Wilson said.
“Seniors and persons with prior chronic conditions are at a higher risk and need to take extra steps to avoid becoming unwell – this is called ‘Shielding’, which I mentioned briefly yesterday and want to touch on more now.
“Vulnerable persons are persons who are at a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying health condition, and may require an admission to hospital.”
Vulnerable persons are those who have one or more of the following conditions or circumstances:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- Individuals with specific cancers
- Women who are pregnant, especially those with significant congenital or acquired heart disease
- Individuals currently taking immunosuppression therapies that will significantly increase the risk of infections
- Those with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD
- HIV-positive persons not managed by HIV treatment or those who have a low CD4 cell count
- Individuals with severe combined immunodeficiency
- And those with severe obesity, defined as a body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher….or those with poorly controlled chronic conditions, especially related to heart disease, respiratory illness, or diabetes.
Shielding is a measure to protect the extremely vulnerable population by minimizing interaction between those who are vulnerable and others.
The shielding measures that must be taken are:
- Stay home at all times. This means no trips to the grocery store or pharmacy… Ask a friend, neighbour or family member to bring supplies where possible or use delivery services if you can. Most pharmacies on island are offering a delivery service, so you can contact your local pharmacy to inquire.
- Minimize all non-essential contact with other members of your household.
- Avoid any face-to-face contact.
- Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus, which include high temperature and new or continuous cough.
- Do not attend any gatherings.
Highlights of the Minister’s Full Statement
Visits from those who provide essential support to you should continue, however, caregiver and healthcare professionals should stay away if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.
All people coming into your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your home and often while they remain in your home.
But the main thing we can all do now to protect our vulnerable is to follow the current Shelter in Place directive. A risk to one is a risk to all.
♦ Directives For Safe Operations by Permitted businesses under the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Shelter in Place) Regulations 2020
Under Shelter in Place, there are several requirements of businesses that are still allowed to operate. I want to share that the Government has published directives for safe operations by permitted businesses under the Emergency Powers [Covid-19 Shelter in Place] Regulations 2020.
This advice includes the following:
- Limit the number of people in your establishment at any given time to maintain social distancing two metres [six feet] between customers while shopping and during checkout. This can be achieved with pre-measured markers throughout the store and at checkout lanes.
- Encourage customers to use cards and avoid cash transactions as much as possible.
- Encourage customers to use a delivery option if possible, to reduce congestion at your establishment. Social distancing should be maintained even during delivery and deliveries can only be carried out by an authorized person.
- Encourage and facilitate hand washing and hand sanitising for customers before they enter your store and, where practical, place sanitising stations throughout the store, particularly at checkout.
- Regularly clean and sanitise frequently touched areas within the store
- And, finally, a cloth face covering must be worn by all persons working onsite during their shift to slow the spread of the virus and avoid transmitting it to others. In addition to wearing a cloth face mask, employees should practice regular and frequent hand hygiene, avoid touching the face and maintain social distancing.
Further details on the above can be found at coronavirus.gov.bm.