Bermuda recorded a fifth death when a senior with COVID-19 who was hospitalised succombed to the deadly virus.

Health Minister Kim Wilson stated last night that no new test results came back on Monday, leaving the total number of cases standing at 57.

Testing on another 39 samples was underway.

“Sadly, another individual has passed away, on this occasion a senior who had been recently hospitalized.

“I want to begin by sending my sincere condolences to the family. Please know that the entire team at the Ministry of Health grieves for your loss,” said Ms Wilson.

Six patients between 67 and 78 remained hospitalised – half of them are in the Intensive Care Unit.

“But the “good news” she said, was that another COVID-19 patient was discharged from King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

To date, 30 people have recovered from this virus, which has affected more men than women consistently.

At last check 31 men came down the virus and 26 women.

“There are 16 persons under active public health monitoring, but who do not require hospitalization.

“The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 67 and 78 years, and the average age is 72,” said Ms Wilson.

“The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 52. The median age is 53, and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 86 years.

The Minister also confirmed that “the epidemiology and surveillance unit got laboratory confirmation yesterday (Monday) that COVID-19 was confirmed in two residents and two staff at the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire”.

This was the second care home where a staff member had tested positive.

While these homes had worked “tirelessly” since January to prepare for this virus, she said precautions used around the world had “proved to be no match for complete protection against COVID-19”.

But she said: “We must not lose heart.

“Public health actions and contact tracing is actively occurring,” she added.

“Unfortunately, these results confirmed to us that there was spread of the virus within the facility. This is the second care home where there has been a positive case involving staff members, and we all understand the higher risks for seniors.

“As a result, care home residents and staff at Matilda Smith are being tested for COVID-19. More than 50 people are being tested and we expect results within the next 24 to 48 hours.

“The team is working with all rest homes to ensure staff and residents are as safe as possible. The country’s testing capacity will continue to prioritize rest homes and other high risk persons.

“Enhanced cleaning and disinfection is currently taking place. Disinfecting wipes have been provided by the Department of Health to all facilities,” said the Minister.

“The confirmation of COVID-spread at rest homes underscores the importance of our decision to amend Bermuda’s Residential Care and Nursing Homes Regulations to prevent employees from working at more than one site where there is a risk of communicable disease spread.

“Some private homes have since followed this example.

“Our Residential Care Home Regulation Officer has been communicating with the homes and asking them to stop the practice since March. We hope this will safeguard our residents from COVID-19 by eliminating any potential transfer of the disease among the different long-term care homes by unknowing staff members.”

Moving forward, she said: “The Bermuda Health Council is in the process of compiling a list of potential substitutes that could assist with staffing shortages due to this change in legislation.

“The homes have been on high alert since the beginning of the year and have been working tirelessly on preparing and equipping the homes for COVID-19.

“This started with plans for restricting visitation, cleaning and disinfecting the facilities, planning for expected staffing shortages, training on using personal protective equipment, and so many more details that have been critical to putting us in a more controllable position.

“Visitors have been cancelled to homes since mid-March and the staff without symptoms have been provided with masks.”

The Minister also noted that the Residential and Nursing Home Care team “has required the staff to take their temperatures at the door, heightened infection control measures and changed behaviors such as not wearing their uniforms outside of the care homes”.

“Residents would also have their temperatures, blood pressure, pulse and general well-being assessed daily in efforts to detect early warning signs of the residents being unwell and support early interventions,” she added.

“We are currently securing the supply chain for thousands of units of supplies and meals for the upcoming months, filling the positions of staff that may be unable to work or require isolation, obtaining additional transportation for essential workers and maintaining clear and constant communication with the hospital on potential transfers.”

Ms Wilson also issued a reminder to “the community at large of the additional measures that should be taken to protect our most vulnerable – those with health conditions such as severe asthma, cancer, poorly controlled chronic conditions [especially related to heart disease] and repository illness or diabetes”.

“The precautions are called ‘shielding’ and require these persons to stay at home, strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms and anyone coming into their home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

In closing, she said: “We know we are judged as a society on how we protect and support our most vulnerable, let’s all do our best to protect ours.

“The Ministry of Health is currently working tirelessly to do what we can, but this is about all of us as a community doing our best.”

Further further guidance around ‘Shielding’ will be released later today.