Premier David Burt, DCI File Photo

Premier David Burt opened the latest news briefing on Thursday with a direct message “to the families who have lost loved ones in recent weeks to COVID-19 and to those who have contracted the virus and are fighting to overcome it”.

To date, the spread of the deadly coronavirus in Bermuda has claimed five lives, one who was laid to rest on Thursday.

Mourners will know that funerals have been limited to ten people to attend during the Shelter in Place order.

Speaking at the latest news briefing held by the Government yesterday, Mr Burt said: “The thoughts and prayers of our island are with you as you grieve for your loved one.

“As a Government we will continue to work hard to manage the spread and reduce the impact of this disease. For those who have contracted and are battling the virus we send you well wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has listened to our medical experts, taken lessons from countries that have been successful in flattening the curve, and work swiftly to protect the people who have become challenged economically,” he added.

“We have listened to, and when necessary adapted to changing circumstances, implemented recommendations from those of all walks of life that truly and deeply care about Bermuda.

“In other countries they do not need to declare a State of Emergency to restrict movement during a public health crisis, but in Bermuda, this is the only way to do so.

“The public health modeling that we currently have predicts that we will need to have strict social distancing for the foreseeable future.

“So the Cabinet has resolved that we must make amendments to the laws that will allow any government in the future to implement appropriate measures, in the case of a future public health emergency, such as the one we’re experiencing right now, without the need to have to declare a State of Emergency.”

On another note, he commended that joint collaboration “to fund the purchase of eight life-assisting ventilators for the Bermuda Hospitals Board”.

“Together, the companies donated more than $400,000 to fund the purchase of equipment that is critical to patient health, especially during this pandemic,” said Mr Burt.

“The joint effort led by Athene is being made possible by the additional support of several other Bermuda-based companies, including Athora Holding Ltd., Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd, and Catalina Holdings Ltd.

“Widespread shortages of essential medical equipment have created a challenge for the hospital,” he added.

“The Bermuda Hospitals Board identified that there was a need for these additional ventilators and this group of companies responded.

“Athene, speaking on behalf of all the supporting companies in this joint effort, said that it is an honor to give back to the community and also expressed how grateful they are and supportive of the healthcare professionals on the frontlines treating patients during this extraordinary time.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda, I extend a sincere appreciation for the generosity of these companies who have paid for these life-saving ventilators.
“As we entered 2020, no one could have predicted or imagined that we would be confronting the global emergency we are facing today.
“The world has been forced to change and so we have been forced to change. It has been said that the true character of a people is not revealed during times of prosperity and happiness, but during times of crisis and woe.
“We are pulling together as a people.
“Our healthcare professionals on the front line working tirelessly with those suffering from COVID-19 and treating them with dignity and compassion.
“I must also add the professional and technical staff at the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute. They continue to play a vital role for those who need on-going and additional mental health support.
“Whether it is our bus drivers and members of the community working to ensure that our healthcare professionals don’t have to worry about how they will get to work,” said the Premier.
“Our teachers, many carrying the burden without complaint or reluctance as they educate our children while caring for their own. Our dock workers, truck drivers, grocery, pharmacy and gas station workers, helping to keep us fed and the medicine we need on our shelves.
“The security guards who are working at the various stores to make sure that social distancing rules are being followed.
“There are so many that are working without recognition, quietly behind the scenes to get us all through this difficult time, and to them,
“I say thank you.