Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke

The Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) has stressed that “people who believe they have been exposed to the new coronavirus covid-19 due to their travel history to a high risk county, or following contact with someone who has covid-19, should call their healthcare provider or the Emergency Department and not just turn up for medical help”.

In a statement released on Tuesday (February 25), Chief of Emergency, Dr Chikezie Dean Okereke said: “Most importantly, by calling their primary care doctor or the Emergency Department first, people can get help quickly over the phone.

“They don’t have to wait. And they can save the lives of others.

“This is critical for preventing the spread of covid-19 to the individuals who could be really harmed by it. Seniors, people who have diabetes or heart disease, and people undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy who may be immunocompromised, are at most risk of serious illness from covid-19.

“Eighty percent of people may not even need medical treatment as the symptoms can be mild or not even felt. Individuals should stay at home and call their doctor or the Emergency Department for advice,” he added.

He also noted that the hospital has taken a “proactive” approach to this deadly virus.

“We are all relieved by the news that there haven’t been any covid-19 cases in Bermuda yet.

“We have a great opportunity to establish practices to limit its spread should that change.”

BHB and the Ministry of Health have collaborated to establish a set of questions that will assess someone’s risks and need for treatment over the phone.

Dr Okereke explained: “Usually people are triaged when they arrive in Emergency to identify their needs.

“This is a type of telephone triage. By calling from home first we can quickly assess your needs and advise on your next steps.

“For seriously ill people, the hospital has negative pressure rooms on every floor of the acute care wing that prevent pathogens coming out of the care room on the air, and our staff are equipped and trained in dealing with infectious diseases.

“Covid-19 spreads in a similar way to colds and flu, so even though it is a new virus, the way to minimise its spread are very well known to us, and existing disinfectant, soap and water and hand sanitizers will kill it.

“Four out of five people infected with covid-19 will not be seriously ill based on what is currently known. For those who have more serious complications, we are ready.”