No new confirmed cases turned up in the latest round of 333 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update.

Speaking at the latest COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday (March 2), Health Minister Kim Wilson said there were 17 active cases – all under public health monitoring, with no patients in hospital. Since the last update there were two recoveries.

“Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 713 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 684 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19,” she added.

To date, 502 cases are classified as local transmission, of which 410 were transmitted with a known contact/source and 92 with an unknown source. One case is currently under investigation. Another 210 cases were listed as imported.

The Minister also noted that “as investigations proceed, transmission categories may change”.

“Additionally, during the week of 21 to 27 February, 660 saliva screening tests were conducted. Therefore, as of February 27, 2021, results have been received for 6,464 saliva screenings.

Providing an update on the vaccine programme, “which plays a critical role in Bermuda’s return to normal”, she said: “For the seven-week period, from January 11 to February 27, Bermuda has administered a total of 20,705 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 21,387 if you include yesterday’s (March 1) vaccinations as well! – which is a remarkable accomplishment.

Of the 20,705 vaccinations administered as of February 27, the Minister said “11,373 (or 55%) were given to women, and, 9,332 (or 45%) were given to men”.

“Bermuda’s goal of ‘herd immunity’ will be achieved when 70 percent of the population (64,054) has been immunized,” she added.

“To date, 21 percent of the population has been vaccinated (with 1 dose) and 11 percent of the population has been immunized (with 2 doses).

“Each week since January 11 has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations administered, with 4,314 vaccinations delivered last week.”

“Government House has informed the Government that Bermuda will receive another 15,000 doses of the vaccine later this month. This is great for our vaccine programme as we are receiving more and more persons who are registering their interest to be vaccinated,” said Ms Wilson.

“I would like to remind residents that we are currently in Phase 2 of Bermuda’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy.

“I must also remind people that you cannot get your vaccination if you have travelled and not yet received your 14-day negative test or if you are in quarantine. And you must wear a proper mask or face covering – no neck gaiters please– when you attend a vaccination centre.

“As previously announced, there will be changes to the guidance for persons who are immunized,” she added.

“Most immediately, I can inform the public that persons who are immunized are able to travel to Bermuda and, with two negative COVID-19 test results [pre-arrival and on arrival at the airport], may dine indoors, go to work, visit a bar or nightclub, and go to the gym. However, they are still subject to the full testing regime, which includes tests on days 4, 8 and 14.

“If the traveller does not have a pre-arrival test, then the two negative test results needed will be on arrival and day 4.

“All immunized persons must practice workplace isolation, which means, if you are a teacher, for example, do not eat in the staff room. Keep as much separation between you and others as much as possible until you have completed your day 14 test.

For students in households where adults are immunized and have been travelling, they will be able to continue to attend school. They will not need to be in quarantine at home.”

As of Monday (March 1), “the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, reduced Bermuda from Level 4 (COVID-19 very high; travellers should avoid all travel to these destinations) to Level 3 (COVID-19 high; travellers should avoid all non-essential travel to these destinations)”.

“That was encouraging news but is not quite where we want to be,” said the Minister.

“However, even this will be in jeopardy if we cannot control and eliminate new cases of COVID-19 on our shores.

“Recently, Bermuda has gone from nine active COVID-19 cases, where eight of the nine are imported cases, to 17 active cases where eight are imported, eight are local transmission, and one is under investigation. This happened in just two weeks.

“These new cases represent an emerging outbreak, and they appear to be linked to one of the more transmissible variants, most likely the UK variant.

“As investigations into this emerging outbreak continue, the number of cases has also increased, and the risk of transmission that increases with large gatherings of persons presents a clear and present danger,” she added.

“With the increase in locally transmitted cases of COVID -19, we felt it prudent to amend the Regulations as it relates to curfews.

“This will help to minimize the time where people may be socializing together in close proximity to each other and in closed-in spaces.

“Also, as we know, increased alcohol consumption can lead to poor judgment calls and slips in protective health measures.

“The Ministry’s contact tracing investigations strongly suggest that it is social mixing or gatherings of people that are most likely to produce local transmissions and positive cases.”