Community testing will be “scaled back” to focus testing resources to end this outbreak, there is an effort underway to “source relief staff from other jurisdictions to ease the demands on our nursing staff” as “our principal concern is the healthcare system and especially the hospital” as “the scale of this outbreak has stretched their resources,” the Government said.
They also added that “for destinations that accept rapid antigen tests for outbound tests [all flights except flights to Boston and Canada] the Ministry of Health will transition to these tests for outbound flights later this week.”
This follows after the hospital moved to “Disaster Alert Level 4″ — which is the highest level — due to the high number of Covid-19 patients in hospital, stating that “our staffing levels are being taxed, and we are having to cease all services that are not emergencies or critically urgent until further notice.”
In addition, the Government previously advised they are “launching a new automated process for notifying Covid positive patients and named close contacts,” which will replace a “manual process of phone calls and emails that the contact tracing team was using.”
Worst Week Since Pandemic Started
These statements — a clear sign of the strain our healthcare system is under — come at the end of a week that has been, by far, the worst week since the pandemic began, with the highest active cases, most cases in one day, most people in hospital, most people in ICU, and most sadly, the most deaths in one week, with seven deaths announced since last week Monday.
“MDL Has Processed An Extraordinary Amount Of Tests”
A Government spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory [MDL] has processed an extraordinary amount of tests over the past 2 weeks. The team has worked tirelessly, around the clock to get results out as quickly as they can. However, the increasing number of positive results have led to delays, as they require further verification before issuance.
“MDL has now completed testing for all of Friday’s samples and will expect to have the results from Saturday’s testing complete this evening. The Government thanks the staff at MDL, the staff at the private labs, and all of the testing teams who have also had to manage increased demand for testing over the last few weeks.
“Community Testing Will Be Scaled Back”
“Bermuda does not have a shortage of testing supplies, but to be sure that we can maintain the reliability of our testing regime, community testing will be scaled back to enable the timely reporting of results.
“Asymptomatic Casual Contacts And Safekey Testing Will Be De-Prioritised”
“Priority for testing will be testing at the border, symptomatic cases & close contacts, exit from quarantine testing, and vulnerable/essential population surveillance [rest homes, students, prisons, healthcare workers]. Asymptomatic casual contacts and SafeKey testing will be de-prioritised for the next 2 weeks as we aim to focus our testing resources on the testing required to end this outbreak.
“Will Transition To These Tests”
“To reduce the number of tests that go to MDL, for destinations that accept rapid antigen tests for outbound tests [all flights except flights to Boston and Canada] the Ministry of Health will transition to these tests for outbound flights later this week. Further details will be announced in the coming days.”
“Build In Desperately Needed Redundancy So That Its 24hr Operation Can Be Sustained”
Premier David Burt said, “The sheer number of positive results is compliments of our aggressive testing regime. In some countries close contacts, especially in household settings, are not tested. We aim to test as widely as possible because we want everyone to know their status and have the ability to protect others or themselves.
“The amount of testing we have done has taxed the MDL Lab significantly and so we have worked this last week to build in desperately needed redundancy so that its 24hr operation can be sustained. We have a reliable and professional testing regime, and it remains a critical part of pandemic management.”
“My Office Is Coordinating An Effort To Source Relief Staff”
The Premier added, “Right now our principal concern is the healthcare system and especially the hospital. The scale of this outbreak has stretched their resources and the key to allowing them to continue to provide the standard of care necessary for the sick is to provide needed relief for the staff.
“My office is coordinating an effort to source relief staff from other jurisdictions to ease the demands on our nursing staff in particular. This journey will be long for some patients battling the coronavirus and not only must we be concerned about their care, but the hospital must also be able to attend to the acute care needs of others.”
How Can You Help?
The Bermuda Hospitals Board previously said, “We are pleading with the community to follow all public health guidance, wear masks at all times inside and outside if within 6 feet of others. Avoid crowds and enclosed spaces. Get vaccinated, please. It is the best defence against serious disease and death.
“We also ask people to take medically fit for discharge family members home. With the hospital under tremendous pressure, we need the staffing and the space for the new admitted patients, both Covid and non-Covid related.”