Now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, government’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball, has issued a reminder that it does not mean a change in the severity of COVID-19.
The organisation’s Director General stated: “Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus.
“It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”
As of Wednesday (March 11) there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bermuda, with 44 people self-monitoring with public health supervision.
“These are persons with a relevant travel history or contact that is not considered high-risk,” said Dr Peek-Ball.
“Health personnel are in communication with these individuals over the course of the self-monitoring period having provided them with a plan for self-monitoring with clear instructions on how to notify appropriate healthcare providers before they seek health care if they develop fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing.
“Maintaining the medical confidentiality of patients is critical and we will not comment on individual cases..
“The updated figures for Bermuda show eight people have been tested for COVID-19, three came back negative and five results are still pending.”
Health Minister Kim Wilson added: “The government website has been updated so visitors to the page can find information easier and faster.
“The site will be reviewed and revised daily to ensure the public have access to timely, accurate information. The URL is https://www.gov.bm/coronavirus
“The public is urged to continue to follow health guidance on appropriate hand hygiene together with sneeze and cough etiquette.”
Meanwhile, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General said: “In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.
“There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.
“In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.
“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.
“We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic. Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.
“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.
“And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases.
“And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.
“As I said on Monday, just looking at the number of cases and the number of countries affected does not tell the full story. Of the 118,000 cases reported globally in 114 countries, more than 90 percent of cases are in just four countries, and two of those – China and the Republic of Korea – have significantly declining epidemics.
“81 countries have not reported any cases, and 57 countries have reported 10 cases or less.We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: all countries can still change the course of this pandemic.
“If countries detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in the response, those with a handful of cases can prevent those cases becoming clusters, and those clusters becoming community transmission.
“Even those countries with community transmission or large clusters can turn the tide on this virus. Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled.”