Health Minister Kim Wilson announced another 81 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the latest round of 1,339 test results taking the number of active cases in Bermuda up to 294.

Speaking at a Zoom news conference this evening with Premier David Burt, she said: “This is a significant outbreak.

“We have a very, very serious problem.”

The Minister said the island was experiencing a third wave which was likely to be bigger than the second wave as it involves the the UK variant which is more transmissable and responsible for 80 to 90 percent of the new cases.

The mean age of those affected is 33.

“One of the new cases is classified as imported by a non-resident who arrived on British Airways BA 2233 from London on 11 March 2021 and tested positive on their Day 14 test,” said Ms Wilson.

“Thirty-five of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.

“The additional 45 new cases are classified as under investigation. These cases are among residents with no currently identified link to other known cases or history of travel in the past 14 days.”

“Bermuda, this is a significant outbreak. We have never experienced community spread,” said the Minister.

She noted that ‘sporadic cases’ means having a few cases, “which may be imported or locally acquired”.

“However, ‘community transmission’ signifies outbreaks where it is difficult to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for large number of cases or there are widely dispersed cases detected in the past 14 days,” she said.

“Bermuda exhibits signs of both these situations. This is new territory for us.

“It is more critical than ever that we take responsibility for our behaviour and act in an abundance of caution. In other words, stay in your household bubble. Do not socialise outside of your household or invite others into your household. Do not mix households, as we know this is contributing to the spread.

“I know that this sounds punitive and not welcoming news at all, but we are all in this together, and we have to recognise that we have a serious problem, and we all need to be part of the solution.

“Everyone must do their best to prevent further spread and prevent more critical illness and death from this third wave – which is presently on track to be larger than the second wave because the UK variant spreads easily and is spreading incredibly fast.

“If you have not already, you need to download the WeHealth app, which is designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by anonymously notifying app users of potential exposure to COVID-19.”

No recoveries have been recorded since the last update.

Of the 294 active cases, 293 are under public health monitoring and one is in hospital with none in critical care.

There are currently 294 active cases, of which;

·          293 are under public health monitoring and;

·          One is in hospital with none in critical care.

Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 1,028 total confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“Out of those, 722 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19,” Ms Wilson said.

The source of all cases is as follows:

·         239 are Imported

·         676 are classified as local transmission of which:

·         584 are local transmission with known contact/source and

·         92 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source

·         113 are under investigation

“Of the over 190,000 test results reported, the mean age of all persons tested is 43 years (median:  42 years), and the ages range from less than one year to greater than 100 years,” the Minister added.

“Everyone should continue to wear a mask, physically distance and practice good hand hygiene, especially if you are in quarantine and unable to be separate from others in the same household. These are first principles of containment and must be practices at all times by everyone.

“Also, be aware of the symptoms. We are finding most symptoms associated with the UK variant of the virus are easily associated with allergies – sore throat, tiredness and headaches, coughing and sneezing.”

The Ministry of Health has also set up two new walk-in and drive-through pop-up locations for COVID-19 testing without an appointment.

The locations are:

♦ TCD (outdoor drive-through lanes), Monday, March29 and Wednesday, March 31, from 5:30 – 7:30pm.

♦ Horseshoe Bay Beach car park, Monday, April 5 and Wednesday April 7, from 4:30 – 7:30pm.

“We are making it easy for people to get tested. These new pop-up testing locations are safe, quick and convenient, as we are meeting people where they are to make it easier to get tested,” the Minister added.

“I encourage persons to get tested so that they know their COVID status. Especially now as we have this aggressive variant and we are seeing an increase in positive cases.

“Both walk-in and drive-through testing will be offered at TCD, while only walk-in testing will be offered at Horseshoe Bay Beach car park.

“If you are experiencing symptoms, please contact your doctor. Your doctor will schedule you or direct you to the COVID-19 helpline at 444-2498 for symptomatic testing appointment slots.

“The test locations for travellers only are Perot Post Office Monday to Saturday, and Sundays at Penno’s Wharf. Testing times are emailed to travellers and operating hours depend on traveller demand.

“Before closing my key message to everyone – stay in your bubble, do not socialise and avoid contact with those outside your immediate family. Get tested and get vaccinated.

“And please, follow the guidance and obey the restrictions that are in place.

“We are having to put more restrictive measures in place to minimise COVID-19 transmission by limiting social movement.”

She stressed that “this is all preventable if we all do our part, have patience and do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19”.

Premier Burt announced a new set of restrictions that go into effect at 6am Sunday.

Churches will be closed, indoor dining will be prohibited with the exception of hotels, indoor gyms and indoor cinemas. Any indoor entertainment will not be permitted and retail stores will be limited to 20 percent capacity.

Schools and camps will be closed and remote working will be mandatory where possible.

“We are in a dangerous place and it is important that over the next two weeks people observe the restrictions,” said Premier Burt.

More in subsequent reports.