Good news out of the latest government COVID-19 briefing on Friday, with word that all 207 test results received all came back negative, which means the total number of confirmed cases stands at 114.

At last check there were 60 active cases with 44 people under active public health monitoring.

There are now 16 patients in hospital battling this lethal virus – four in the Intensive Care Unit.

The number of lives claimed by coronavirus stands at six.

According to the Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, the average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 60 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 95 years.

The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 57 and 91 years, and the average age is 76.

As of Friday, May 1, just under 2,800 [2,791] people have now been tested for COVID-19, representing 4 percent of Bermuda’s population.

“It is an excellent rate compared to the region overall, placing us among the top 10% in the world,” said Ms Wilson.

“Aggressive testing will continue next week, prioritizing physician referrals, contacts, nursing homes and essential workers including public officers. The drive-through will operate daily from 2pm to 7pm.”

With the island’s “increased testing capability” she said: “More people can be tested, but also that we can retest people who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 to ensure that they no longer carry the virus.”

And while the sheltering in place order was officially lifted at 6am this morning she warned: “This does not mean that everything goes back to normal ….we are not out of the woods yet…and testing does not make us safe!

Photo Courtesy of TNN

“I’m increasingly worried that I hear people of all ages – young and older – are already planning parties and gatherings. Please don’t.

“People still need to avoid moving about and congregating with different households as much as possible. The fact that we have more freedom of movement now, does not mean that we can move freely as if COVID-19 did not exist.

“COVID-19 is still with us and will be for the foreseeable future. So avoid gatherings, avoid mixing households, and avoid moving around unnecessarily.

“The more we move around, the more we expose ourselves and others. The more people we have contact with, the more risk of contracting COVID or transmitting it to others.

“So do not see the end of Shelter in Place as a green light to party. It is merely an amber light to proceed with caution… physically distant, masked and in small groups.”

The Minister also noted: “We are shifting our language from ‘social distance’ to ‘physical distance’.

“This is to emphasize the protective measure that staying six feet or two meters apart offers in preventing COVID spread.

“Likewise, wearing a face mask and minimizing congregating and movement serve to create physical distance between people to prevent transmission.

“The point is to be physically separated, not socially isolated. This is important as we move through our gradual phases of re-opening and transitioning to a new normal,” said Ms Wilson.

“The Premier has already outlined the precise stipulations of how we will proceed in Phase 1 of the reopening…and hopefully everyone has had time to absorb that information and will abide by the restrictions.

“How will we know if you aren’t? Among other things, we would see a rise in hospital admissions for the virus or signs of community transmission, which the island has avoided so far.

If this happens we would have to start looking at suppression measures, including recommending a return to shelter in place to bring COVID under control once again.

“As we start to remove our movement limitations, I would like to remind the public that it is Vaccination Week in the Americas.

“Unfortunately, we do not yet have an effective vaccine for COVID-19 and, until a vaccine for COVID19 is available, immunizations can and must be delivered by our health services alongside the response to COVID-19. Here’s why:

“First, we must vaccinate to protect our health workers, the elderly and vulnerable populations from other respiratory infections, such as influenza and pneumococcus, which can lead to more hospitalizations and may be harder to diagnose in the context of COVID-19.

“Second, if we fall behind on routine immunizations, particularly for children, we risk outbreaks, thus overwhelming hospitals and clinics with preventable diseases in addition to COVID-19.

“The impact on our health systems would take months or even years to reverse. Remember, ICU capacity is among the factors that would determine if our hospital could cope if COVID-19 cases were to increase sharply,” she said.

“COVID-19 is putting our health systems to the test.

“Going forward, the challenge is to ensure that our health systems deliver on our priority health programs, even while responding to COVID-19… which is why we also want to continue to encourage persons with Non-Communicable Diseases [NCD’s] – such as diabetes, hypertension and COPD – to manage their conditions as much as they can so they do not end up in the emergency room.”

In closing, the Minister issued a reminder “to continue with physical distancing [keep six feet between you and others], wear a mask in public places, practice respiratory hygiene, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for no less than 20 seconds”.