More dismal news this morning with word that COVID-19 has claimed another four lives in Bermuda, taking the death toll to 42, as the number of active cases took another leap to 1,427.
In an interim coronavirus update, “to keep residents fully informed of all aspects of our current situation”, health officials said there were 259 new cases in the latest round of 6,521 tests.
The number of patients battling this virus now stands at 51, with 12 patients in intensive care.
There have been 66 recoveries, and the hospital reported three new discharges of COVID-19 patients while and two new patients were admitted.
A full update will be provided later this evening as scheduled.
As it stands now, Premier David Burt said there were no immediate plans to implement another lockdown at this point in time.
Both he and the Minister of Health, Kim Wilson, extended condolences to the families who had lost loved ones.
“As a community, we are again harshly reminded of the fatal nature of this virus,” said the Minister.
Outbreaks have also been reported in “several” long-term care homes, affecting both residents and staff, causing “critical staff shortages”, with the Government providing support with staffing, equipment and supplies.
Walk-ins were not being accepted for testing, and said those in need of time-sensitive outbound travel tests to use private labs: Helix Genetic and Scientific Solutions, or C & S West Limited, the Minister added.
Priority for testing is for symptomatic cases, close contacts, arriving passengers, and care homes.
Highlights of the Minister’s full statement:
My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased.
Due to the increase in testing volumes and increased positive results, our teams have experienced delays in testing and processing results. Currently, our testing priorities are symptomatic cases, close contacts, arriving passengers, and long-term care facilities.
Several of our long-term care facilities have COVID-19 outbreaks involving staff and patients. The Ministry of Health has instituted enhanced surveillance in the affected facilities. Those long-term care facilities that do not currently have outbreaks should ensure that they have an appropriate outbreak control plan in place to protect their staff and patients. They must also continue to follow all public health guidelines according to best practices. Many of the long-term care facilities are experiencing critical staff shortages and the Government is supporting long-term care facilities with necessary support staff, equipment, and supplies.
Everyone in our community has an individual responsibility to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. We are all in this together, and we must all work together to ensure our community is safe. The Delta variant has caused significant infections in our community. I urge those who have not been vaccinated to speak to their doctor about getting vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines work to prevent severe illness, which sadly in some cases can be fatal.”
Highlights of the Premier’s full statement:
I extend sincere condolences to the families of the four members of our community who have very sadly lost their lives to this virus. Beyond the case, numbers and statistics are real people. People who are suffering from COVID, families of those who have sadly passed away and still others who are concerned about how this virus may impact them as a close contact.
The sheer number of positive results is compliments of our aggressive testing regime. In some countries close contacts, especially in household settings, are not tested. We aim to test as widely as possible because we want everyone to know their status and have the ability to protect others or themselves. The amount of testing we have done has taxed the MDL Lab significantly and so we have worked this last week to build in desperately needed redundancy so that its 24hr operation can be sustained. We have a reliable and professional testing regime, and it remains a critical part of pandemic management.
When we imposed shelter-in-place, we did not have other things available to protect the public. Now that all residents have had the opportunity to get vaccinated, we cannot resort to lockdowns as the first response. The vaccine provides us with a means to avoid blanket actions that can cause economic and social harm even while necessary in certain circumstances to deal with public health concerns. Due to our high level of vaccination, we do not have to stop everything in the midst of this outbreak, but we expect rigorous enforcement of existing Public Health Regulations that will change the trajectory of this outbreak.
We have seen an increase in registrations for vaccination and to ensure that the demand can be met I have made a request through the Governor for additional vaccine doses from the UK and the expectation is that we will see them arrive before the end of the month. Now is the time for people who have been hesitant to get vaccinated to speak with their doctors; this is especially important for those whose employment is in a high-risk setting. Healthcare workers, caregivers for the elderly, and teachers should speak to their doctor about getting vaccinated.”
Right now our principal concern is the healthcare system and especially the hospital.
The scale of this outbreak has stretched their resources and the key to allowing them to continue to provide the standard of care necessary for the sick is to provide needed relief for the staff.
My office is coordinating an effort to source relief staff from other jurisdictions to ease the demands on our nursing staff in particular.
This journey will be long for some patients battling the coronavirus and not only must we be concerned about their care, but the hospital must also be able to attend to the acute care needs of others.”
The age groups of people with Covid-19 can be seen on www.gov.bm’s Covid update