Following a weekend of multi-lane testing of Bermuda’s essential workers down at Southside, the good news today is out of 636 tests, only one came back positive for COVID-19, brining the total number of confirmed cases to 111.
Speaking at the latest government briefing on Wednesday, Health Minister Kim Wilson said there are currently 57 active cases, with another 43 persons under active public health monitoring.
Fourteen patients are currently hospitalized as a result of the coronavirus.
The total number of the deceased remains at six.
“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 95 years,” said Ms Wilson.
“The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 57 and 91 years, and the average age is 75.
“Overall, Bermuda has now conducted over 2,000 (2,197) tests, which gives us confidence that our status remains at ‘Local Transmission’ with clusters of cases.
“We do not have widespread community transmission, which must give us all relief. Our suppression measures are working.”
As of Wednesday (April 29) she said: “We have tested 118 care home residents and 149 staff members from five different care homes.
“Of these, 226 have come back negative and 41 positive. Of the total number of positive tests at care homes 22 were asymptomatic individuals.
“In addition, the residents and staff of Matilda Smith Williams were retested, following initial testing two weeks ago. We retested because there was an outbreak at the home.
“We needed to retest all patients and staff in order to determine if anyone had transitioned to positive and how to appropriately staff the home in light of staff and residents’ COVID-19 status.
“Since the original testing, we had asymptomatic but positive staff caring for positive elders and negative staff caring for negative elders.
Of course all of them have been using full PPE, regardless of their status. Retesting helps us to better decide how to integrate individuals.
“Additionally, some who underwent the initial process of screening may have had no symptoms, had a low viral load and therefore may not have been identified as positive at the time. This second screening will catch anyone who may have transitioned to positive.
“As I have mentioned previously, testing is just one measure which we use to stop the spread of COVID-19. Another very important mitigation measure is contact tracing,” said the Minister.
“Therefore, we have steadily increased our capacity for contact tracing. Staff from various other areas in government have been enlisted to assist in this regard and we now have six groups of five contact tracers.
“Further, we are looking to train some additional essential workers in contact tracing.
“It is important to remember that a negative test result tells you your status at a specific point in time.
“It doesn’t mean that you are immune, doesn’t meant to stop washing hands or wearing a mask.
“It means that right now you don’t have an infection. But you still have to take all the precautionary measures to ensure you don’t contract it in the future.”
On another positive note, she said the Health Department has received “new non-contact thermometers which arrived last week” which “have been excellent and are much quicker than the ones we were previously using”.
The Ministry will also implement “a new over-the-phone mental health screening tool” for “those who are in a government quarantine facility” to help “ensure their wellbeing”.
“The calls are made by nurses from the Ministry of Health who will reach out to the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute if they identify someone as needing help,” said Ms Wilson.
“We recognise that some may find the quarantine experience traumatic and stressful and we want to assist where we can in this regard.
“As we enter our phased reopening, all of us will have to continue stringent physical distancing measures to avoid returning to a Shelter in Place scenario.
“Please remember, as soon as the rate of transmission goes up or hospitalizations start to increase, restrictions will be needed again. So everyone’s adherence to physical distancing requirements will be fundamental for our survival,” she said.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I have to restate that health will recommend the reinstatement of suppression measures if trigger points such as increased hospitalization admissions or increased cases of COVID-19 are identified.
“Lastly, as we prepare to come out of Sheltering in Place, we need to remember that there are members of the community for whom it is still not safe for them to leave their homes.
“These are our vulnerable populations: people who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
“These people include people undergoing cancer treatment, people who have had organ transplants, people with severe respiratory conditions, women who are pregnant, people who are severely obese [with a BMI over 40] and people with poorly controlled chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
“If you are someone who has any one of the above conditions, then you need to protect yourself from exposure to the virus by continuing to shelter in place. I know it’s hard, but please continue to stay home.
“Likewise, if you know of anyone with one of these conditions, whether it is a friend, a family member, or some other member of the community please ensure that you help to shield them from potential infection by assisting them in any way possible so that they can continue to stay at home to be protected and do not need to go out for any reason.”
The shielding measures that must be taken by vulnerable individuals 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.
“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,” the Minister added.
“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.
“All of this advice can be found at coronavirus.gov.bm.”
- Top Feature Photo Courtesy of TNN