[Column written by MP Michael Dunkley]
Bermuda, initially when Covid hit the island in mid- March of this year the Government took extreme measures to curb the spread of this deadly virus; the island sheltered in place for weeks. The Government and Opposition worked together and the vast majority did our best to follow the tough measures for our collective good.
It worked with an initial peak of 32 cases in March, 82 in April and 26 in May [sadly with our 9 deaths in April and May] were followed by a significant welcomed downward trend of 6 cases in June, 10 in July, 16 in August, 9 in September and 18 in October.
Now, suddenly, we face our biggest test as Covid cases have soared over the past month with the last two weeks seeing an alarming increase. November recorded 62 cases of Covid and so far with only a quarter of December passed we have already recorded 70 cases in the month.
It appears that the record 82 cases in April will be blown away by a much larger number this month. Unless the upward trend is changed very quickly it is very probable December will threaten or pass the 200 case mark!
How quickly our situation has deteriorated is illustrated by the fact that last Friday in Parliament, Minister Wilson gave a statement providing an update on Covid-19 and stated ‘Although we may seem as if we are currently hitting a new peak, we must be reminded that in April there were 82 cases confirmed. This compares with a total of 62 cases in November.’
What the Minister did not report was that in the first 15 days of November reported cases totaled 24 and in the last 15 days of November the total was 40. A significant spike upward!
It gets worse. So far with about 25% of December now passed we have 70 confirmed cases!
Clearly the data shows a rapid escalation of cases, which the government attributes to two clusters of cases and not community transmission, and protective action must be taken. The announced changes in Parliament just last Friday were quickly superseded by stronger measures at a Sunday evening press conference and again on Tuesday night.
As Premier Burt has said, restrictions are data driven and follow a scientific approach. We must do all we can to make sure our health system is not overwhelmed and our team in contact tracing is able to do their onerous job and are not stretched to the breaking point.
Bermuda, we can be critical of steps taken, we can all be armchair quarterbacks and criticize government policy but the fact is the playbook on Covid continues to be written as each day passes. We know more now than we did at the beginning and more is learned each day but one fact is clear- and that is the ease of transmission of the virus. With this in mind we should do all we can to wear masks, physical distance and create a small bubble of people we socialize with to protect all of us.
Unless we follow these known precautions that hinder Covid, and unless we follow the new restrictions, we will face a further tightening on our freedom. The Government has up to this point pushed back at the prospect of another ‘lockdown” or ‘shelter in place.” The reality is that the trend today is ominous as it is unlikely that recent days of multiple confirmed cases will suddenly end.
It is likely the Government will be forced into more drastic measures. It is up to us Bermuda to all play our part to do whatever we can to stay healthy, protect our vulnerable and make sure the next steps do not take us back to April.
My colleagues and I have confidence that we will weather this test but it will take continued resolute commitment by all of us in facing this wave for us to see brighter days with a vaccine available and a recovery possible.
While we might have some “pandemic fatigue” think about how our health care and frontline workers feel after working tirelessly since March! Thank you!
Better days are ahead so let us all do our best to stay healthy, help our family and friends and we will turn the New Year with renewed hope!
– Michael Dunkley