[Updating] The Government will be holding a press conference this evening [Aug 12] to update the public on Covid-19.
Update 5.27pm: The Govt said, “There will be a slight delay to the start of the Covid-19 press conference this evening, it is now expected to start at 5.45 pm. Apologies for the delay.”
Update: Some key points:
- 4927 test results, 18 new positive cases
- 2 imported, 12 local transmission with known contact and 4 under investigation
- Now 92 active cases, 81 are the Delta variant
- Five active confirmed clusters.
- Minister: ‘Currently, the Government is not proposing further restrictions, but this situation is being closely monitored’
- Future press conference will be with Government’s technical officers, rather than the Premier and Minister
- Changes to the mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated travelers to take effect
- Bermuda has administered a total of 83,543 vaccinations., 65.7% of the population has had 1 dose, 64.4% had 2 doses
Update 9.32pm: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:
The Ministry of Health received 4927 test results since the last update, and 18 were positive for Covid-19. This gives a test positivity rate of 0.4%.
These results are from testing done on the following dates:
- Monday, August 9: 8 positive out of 2354 results [0.3% positivity], and
- Tuesday, August 10: 10 positive out of 2573 results [0.4% positivity]
2 of the new cases are classified as imported with details as follows:
- 1 resident who arrived on Jet Blue B6203 from Boston on August 5 and tested positive on their day 4 test
- 1 resident who arrived on American Airlines AA 2044 from Charlotte on August 10 and tested positive on their arrival test
12 of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact as they are associated with known cases.
The additional 4 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.
Additionally, since the last update, there were nine  recoveries and no deaths.
There are currently 92 active cases, of which;
- 89 are under public health monitoring and;
- 3 are in the hospital, with 1 in intensive care.
Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 2663 total confirmed cases of Covid-19; out of those, 2538 persons have recovered, and sadly, there have been 33 Covid related deaths.
The source of all active cases is as follows:
- 34 are Imported
- 47 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 47 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
- 0 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 11 are Under Investigation
Of the active cases:
By vaccination status: 42 [46%] are fully vaccinated, and 50 [54%] are not vaccinated, including those not eligible for vaccination.
By vaccination status and transmission:
Imported cases: 23 [68%] are fully vaccinated, and 11 [32%] are not vaccinated, including those not eligible for vaccination.
Local/Under Investigation cases: 19 [33%] are fully vaccinated, and 39 [67%] are not vaccinated, including those not eligible for vaccination.
Of the active cases, by variant type: none are Alpha, none are Beta, 81 are Delta, none are Gamma or the wildtype, 10 are not able to be determined, and one is not available.
The source of all confirmed cases is as follows:
- 391 are Imported
- 2256 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 1760 are Local transmission with known contact/source and
- 496 are Local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 16 are Under Investigation
As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.
The seven-day average of our real-time reproduction number is less than 1.
Bermuda’s current WHO country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.
I will now provide an update on our vaccination programme.
We have completed 30 weeks of vaccinations. Since January 11, Bermuda has administered a total of 83,543 vaccinations.
Of the 83,543 vaccinations given as of August 7:
- 52% are women and,
- 48% are men
82.7% of all residents over the age of 65 years have had at least one vaccination and 81.4% are fully immunised.
To date, 65.7% of the population has been vaccinated [1 dose], and 64.4% of the population has been immunised [2 doses].
We have five active confirmed clusters. This is concerning. We cannot afford another outbreak and its impact on our health and safety, our economy, and not to mention the stress it would put on our entire healthcare system.
As I have repeatedly stressed, the vaccine against Covid-19 is one of the single most important measures to keep our community safe.
Vaccines prevent approximately 80% of symptomatic infections, and vaccines prevent approximately 96% of hospitalisations and deaths. Vaccines also appear to reduce transmission.
As I said earlier, of Bermuda’s 34 active imported cases, 68% are fully vaccinated, and 32% are not vaccinated or eligible for vaccination.
Of our 58 local transmission cases or cases under investigation with no known connection to travel the situation is reversed, 33% are fully vaccinated, and 69% are not vaccinated or eligible for vaccination. In other words, for local transmission, not surprisingly, the majority of persons who are positive are not vaccinated.
There are more than 100 positive cases associated with this outbreak. Current evidence suggests that there have been a handful of instances where a fully vaccinated person has transmitted the virus to someone who is also fully vaccinated. Overwhelmingly, locally, people are getting the infection from unvaccinated people or residents are getting infected when they travel overseas.
Currently, the Government is not proposing further restrictions, but this situation is being closely monitored. This means everyone must take responsibility for their actions. No one wants to see a surge in coronavirus cases, and especially hospitilisations and deaths.
I will continue to remind you that the Delta variant is highly transmissible, and it is critical that everyone, vaccinated or not, gets back to the basics. Wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene and keep physically distanced from those not in your household.
When you travel you must be extremely vigilant. It is obvious that many residents are getting infected in other countries, and then returning home. Fortunately, most travellers are fully vaccinated. Remember: mask wearing is just as important when you travel off the island as it is when you are here on island.
Businesses also need to get back to the basics and ensure that adequate hand sanitiser is readily available and proper contact tracing is strictly maintained. I will remind the business community that this is not voluntary; it is a requirement, and enforcement action may be taken against businesses that do not comply.
I will now discuss the most recent amendments to the Quarantine Order: The Quarantine [Covid-19] [No. 3] Amendment [No. 3] Order 2021.
The first amendment will establish border rules for cruise ship passengers arriving by sea.
A cruise passenger is “a person who intends to travel by sea to and be landed in Bermuda”.
A mariner is a sailor, and so cruise passengers are identified separately.
The requirements for cruise passengers are to:
- obtain a Covid-19 vaccination,
- obtain a negative Covid-19 PCR test result no more than four days before departure from their last port prior to arriving in Bermuda,
- apply for a travel authorisation [TA] by completing the TA form on the Government Portal and,
- if a passenger arrives here unvaccinated, that person, similar to mariners, must quarantine on board the ship as directed by the Chief Medical Officer..
The second amendment concerns two vaccines, Sinovac and Sinopharm, which will be added to the list of approved vaccines for travellers. Several travellers to Bermuda have only had access to these two vaccines and, as such, are considered unvaccinated by Bermuda law. It is not intended that these vaccines be used for our local community immunisation programme.
The third amendment is regarding the ticketing regime for breaches of public health and quarantine measures and requirements.
Breaches of the legislation will result in an on-the-spot fixed penalty ticket and a $500 fine that must be paid within 28 days to avoid criminal prosecution.
Examples of breaches for which a quarantine penalty ticket can be issued are:
a] failure to comply with the public health supervision requirements for 14 days after arrival,
b] failure to comply with the requirement to be Covid tested, or
c] failure to use the electronic monitoring bracelet as directed.
Examples of breaches for which a public health penalty ticket can be issued are:
a] visiting a person who is in quarantine or isolation,
b] hosting or assembling a group of people larger than the permitted group size without an exemption, or
c] leaving a place of active monitoring, i.e. a place of quarantine, after potential exposure to Covid-19.
In terms of enforcement, Health’s Compliance Officers are preparing files for the Bermuda Police Service and the Department of Public Prosecution regarding cases where people have left quarantine, provided false information as part of their travel authorisation or not followed the travel continuum.
Additionally, Environmental Health Officers are doing spot checks on restaurants, bars, shops and other public places to make sure hand sanitiser is available and proper contact tracing records are being kept. These are areas where business operators have reduced their efforts, and penalty tickets can be issued in these situations too.
We encourage you to get tested to know your status, and if eligible, get vaccinated.
It is important for persons to quarantine, according to the quarantine rules, if you are required to do so, as it helps avoid putting others at risk of catching the virus and spreading it throughout the wider community. After exposure, it may take up to 14 days before infection develops. Persons become infectious and can spread the virus to others 2 days before their symptoms start and up to 7 days before their positive test result if the positive person does not have any symptoms.
We are also urging people to please fully cooperate with the contact tracers. Our contact tracers are working tirelessly to protect Bermuda from the spread of the coronavirus. But some people in our community, when contacted by a contact tracer, are not cooperating.
If you are contacted by a contact tracer, fully cooperate with them. This whole process is completely anonymous – they will protect your privacy. Your cooperation will protect the health and wellbeing of our community.
We must remember that this pandemic is not over. Do the research, talk with your doctor and make an informed decision about getting the Covid-19 vaccine. There is a wealth of information about the vaccines online at gov.bm.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed the world in so many ways including the unfortunate reality of inequality and inequity. As we saw and continue to see, the Covid-19 virus has run rampant throughout the world, and access to quality health care is one of most important ways to win the war against the virus. The pandemic has created a paradigm shift which has exposed, and shown us in very certain terms, the consequences of inequitable to access to basic services.
The lessons have taught us we must make more aggressive efforts to bridge the inequality gap. Benefits such as access to prescription drugs and ensuring every person a fair start to basic health care from birth are fundamental needs, both for everyday living and during times of world crisis such as a pandemic. Therefore, Bermuda, we must strike a new path for our health system.
We have heard this clearly from our discussions with patients and stakeholders across the health system in recent months. Moving forward, it is vital that patients are placed front and center in the health system; a system that needs to work better for them, but also better for Bermuda. This is this Government’s commitment to Bermuda.
To deliver this, we have brought together stakeholders and patient representatives from across the health system to work together in developing a new roadmap for strengthening healthcare delivery and all of this is in support of the Government’s objective to provide universal health coverage.
In closing, each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app.
Never forget to avoid the 3Cs: closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings.
Our health and safety are in our hands.
Update 9.38pm: Minister Renee Ming’s full statement follows below:
I want to begin my remarks by thanking all of our enforcement and emergency agencies for their tireless work over the Cup Match holiday. Thankfully, the holiday weekend did not see any significant disturbances, road traffic incidents, or infringements of the Covid-19 regulations. And for that, we should all be grateful.
I will now provide a brief update on the Government Supervised Quarantine Facilities.
There have been 228 persons who have been released from quarantine, and currently, there are 56 in a facility. These measures are in place at our borders to mitigate any further spread of the dangerous coronavirus.
The changes to the unvaccinated traveller’s requirements to stay at a quarantine facility will be a welcome change to many, and the requirements will continue to be reviewed as we respond to the Covid-19 threat.
I encourage everyone who is required to quarantine to follow the quarantine rules to protect the community from the spread of the coronavirus.
Remember Bermuda, this pandemic is not over, and we must all remain vigilant and take responsibility for our safety. Everyone must do their part to stop the spread of the virus in Bermuda.
Before I close, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we are in Hurricane Season, and this season is predicted to be above average for hurricanes. I urge all residents to be prepared now.
- Prepare and repair your house for hurricane season.
- Carefully review your family plans and update them with any changes to phone numbers and other important information.
- Take stock of all medical prescriptions that your family and pets require and ensure you have at least two weeks supply on hand.
- Check your hurricane kit to make sure you have working flashlights, a portable radio with spare batteries and a stock of non-perishable food to last your family for seven days.
- Ensure your house insurance policy is up to date.
- Check with your vulnerable neighbours and ask them if they need any help with their preparations, keeping Covid-19 safety precautions in mind.
Every year during hurricane season, Bermuda demonstrates its strength and resilience. As I have said before, I am confident that this year will be no different, and we will safely weather any storms that may test our shores with proper preparation.
Update: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:
Though we are a couple of weeks removed, it is my first opportunity to say that I hope everyone in Bermuda had a safe and enjoyable Cup Match holiday. It was a long-awaited celebration not only of our history and our culture but of the progress that we have made as a country against the coronavirus.
Such celebrations were not possible a year ago. However, with our strong testing regime, continually improving vaccination rate, and tools such as SafeKey, we have been able to see the return of Cup Match and other large outdoor events.
Despite the continuing presence of the coronavirus here and around the world, it is important for us all to recognise that we are in a different place than we were a year ago, where the only measures to address increasing cases would be increasing public health restrictions.
We now have vaccines, and 3 out of every 4 residents or 75% of those who can get vaccinated have chosen to do so. Our vaccination success means that more vulnerable people in our community are shielded from serious illness or death and means that we have been able to adjust our approach when we see cases increase.
The entire purpose of public health measures was to ensure that our healthcare system did not become overwhelmed, as we have seen happen in many countries around the world. It was not to have no cases of the virus locally but to reduce the possibility that an outbreak would cause our hospital to exceed its capacity, which nearly happened in April due to the outbreak of the Alpha or UK Variant.
Due to the lessons learned, the Government announced strong measures to protect Bermuda at our borders from dangerous variants such as the Delta variant. Unfortunately, before the full border policy could come into effect, this highly transmissible variant found its way onto our shores. As a result of that and some not adhering to health guidelines, we have recently seen cases increase.
We are confident that these measures have been effective and will continue to be so as long as they are followed and as long as we continue to have cooperation from the people of Bermuda. It is our collective responsibility as a country to ensure that all of us do what is necessary to reduce further local transmission, and effectively manage this outbreak.
Our success in increased vaccinations, and in reducing local transmission cannot be met with complacency. We must keep our guard up and protect our healthcare system, protect those with medical conditions and children who cannot be vaccinated, and protect the ability of our students to return to school in September.
I have no doubt that we will do this if we continue to work together.
Tonight’s press conference will be the final regularly scheduled press conference attended by the Minister of Health and myself in this current format. Following tonight, the Covid-19 updates will move to a technical briefing format, with public officers from Health and other relevant departments providing the public and their representatives in the media with the essential technical details regarding the coronavirus.
If there are major announcements and changes to policies to be made, they will be made by Ministers, but standard updates will be given by the technical officers in the future.
Tonight, I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson, who will provide an update on the latest coronavirus test results, vaccination statistics, and other updates from her Ministry.
In light of our change in format for future updates to the public, we are also joined tonight by Ms. Dy-Juan DeRoza, Epidemiologist, in the Government’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, who is on hand to answer any technical questions about the current cases from members of the media.
The Minister of National Security, The Hon. Renee Ming, is with us and will speak on the mandatory supervised quarantine operations, as well as other matters from the Ministry of National Security as we are in hurricane season.
Additionally, the Commissioner of the Bermuda Police Service, Stephen Corbishley also joins us tonight and will speak on matters regarding enforcement and to take any related questions from the media.
First, we will hear from the Minister of Health on the latest matters surrounding the coronavirus.
Thank you, Minister Wilson and all of the team at the Ministry of Health, for their continued hard work in helping Bermuda battle back against the coronavirus.
We should continue to be proud of our country’s response to this pandemic, in that we maintain one of the most sound and stringent testing regimes in the world, which allows us to be informed and aware of our status as a country every day, recently surpassing over 400,000 tests conducted. Testing capacity remains available, and I encourage persons to utilise it, get tested and know their coronavirus status.
It is welcomed news to hear that as a country, we now have 3/4 of our eligible population vaccinated. Vaccines remain available to anyone who wishes to get them, and as always, I encourage you to speak to your doctor so that you can make the best and safest decision for yourself.
Along with our testing regime and vaccinations, we must not abandon the basics which have helped to keep us safe from the beginning of the pandemic. I join the Minister in reminding everyone of the importance of hand-washing and sanitising, mask-wearing especially in groups where you are unsure of a person’s vaccinations status.
We must also continue to use technology to assist us. SafeKey is a valuable tool that will permit businesses to continue to operate while reducing the risk of coronavirus spread while indoors. I remind the public that you can receive a SafeKey through the receipt of a negative coronavirus test with the expiry date provide on your SafeKey.
Those who are fully vaccinated, and whose vaccine-based SafeKeys have expired or will expire on 15 August can renew their SafeKeys by going to: gov.bm/safekey and clicking on the link at the top of the page which says ‘click here to renew’.
In addition to SafeKey, I encourage the public to continue to use the WeHealth app to help our contact tracers, protect businesses and others.
While we have seen a recent increase of cases in our community, this does not mean that progress has stopped. A year ago, before we had the vaccine, these numbers may have meant strong restrictions, and left us with a feeling of having to start over.
However, our increased community protection due to 3/4 of the eligible population being vaccinated means that while we must remain cautious and protect those who are not eligible such as young children, we can also continue to allow economic and cultural activity to continue with precautions.
Switching now to supervised quarantine.
On July 23rd, the Supreme Court announced that the Government was successful in its defence of the legality of this Government’s Supervised Quarantine Regime.
The Court dismissed all claims by the Applicants and determined that the Government’s policy is lawful and not a breach of Section 11 of the Bermuda Constitution.
We often confer on peaceful protests the description of “democracy
in action”. That is an accurate description, but it bears remembering that another cornerstone of democratic societies is the rule of law and the ability of ordinary citizens to seek justice in the courts.
In this case, citizens of this island exercised that democratic right, and in a fair, transparent review of the evidence, the Court has made a determination. Whilst the Applicants may not have been successful, it is without question that democracy has emerged as the victor.
The Government’s case met the required test. The evidence provided in support of the actions taken to keep this country safe has satisfied the Supreme Court of Bermuda of its foundation in Bermuda law and the Bermuda Constitution.
As I indicated in the House of Assembly on that day, the Government will announce changes to the approach to supervised quarantine.
Thanks to our progress in having nearly 75% of the eligible population vaccinated and increasing the protection within our community, we can now begin to make revisions to how supervised quarantine works for unvaccinated persons who come through our borders, allowing a portion of their 14-day quarantine to be completed at home – with strict restrictions.
Effective from Monday, 23rd August, supervised quarantine will operate as follows:
Unvaccinated travellers with a valid pre-arrival test will still be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Bermuda.
They will quarantine for their first days at a designated hotel facility.
Following the receipt of a negative day 4 test, they will then be allowed to complete the final days of their quarantine at home, fitted with an electronic monitoring device.
Those persons will test on days 4 and 14.
Additionally, if the traveller in question who is allowed to quarantine at home following a negative day 4 test does not live alone, all other members of that household will be required to quarantine as well and must test out of quarantine on day 14.
Unvaccinated travellers without a valid pre-arrival test will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
They will spend the first portion of quarantine in a designated hotel facility.
Following receipt of a negative Day 8 test, they will be allowed to complete the final days of quarantine at home fitted with an electronic monitoring device.
These persons will test on days 8 and 14
If they do not live alone, all other members of the household will be required to quarantine as well, and all members of the household must test out of quarantine on day 14.
These changes will take effect on August 23 and are being made due to the incredible progress that the country has made in its vaccination programme. These changes are not required, but by looking at what we are seeing, we believe that these changes and adjustments can be made.
I now invite the Minister of National Security to provide an update to the country with an update on the supervised quarantine hotel operation and other matters from her Ministry.
Thank you, Minister Ming.
And thank you to your team at the Ministry of National Security, who have done an admirable job in managing this important operation of supervised quarantine, and as it transitions to a mix of supervised quarantine and home quarantine, I am sure you will continue to do that.
We will now hear from the Commissioner of the Bermuda Police Service on enforcement matters.
Thank you, Commissioner, and thank you to the Bermuda Police Service for their continued cooperation in working alongside the Government throughout the pandemic. It is vital that all persons do their part to mitigate the spread of the Delta Variant. Indoor spaces where masks are not worn are the most likely settings for there to be superspreader events, and the Government fully supports the Bermuda Police Service in this enforcement effort.
As we bring the remarks to a close and open it up to the media for questions, I remind you that this will be the final regularly scheduled Covid-19 press conference and that we will be switching to a new, more technical format for updates going forward, which will not include myself or the Minister of Health on a regular basis. Further information will follow on how the public will be kept up to date on the coronavirus in due course.
The Government recognises, as all Ministers have said and also the Commissioner of Police, that the pandemic is not over, but we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish as a country, and by the way, we are making the theme of my National Address in April’ Moving Beyond the Pandemic’ a reality through our unity and perseverance.
The Government is proud to have provided over $70 million in unemployment assistance overall, including $9 million since December 2020 to help those affected by business closures and restrictions during our most difficult times as a country.
The commitment to ensuring the needs of Bermudians are met does not end here. We will continue to work not only on effectively managing the impact of the coronavirus on our island but on seeing through our plan for economic recovery and the continued reignition of our tourism industry.
I thank the Minister of Health, who has been with me at these press conferences since the very beginning of the pandemic. I wish to thank the Minister of National Security who has been joining in since last year. And, I wish to thank each and every one of you for your attention during these press conferences, for your support, your constructive criticism, and concern, and for the hard work that you have done as residents in helping us to move beyond the pandemic. I thank you very much.
I now look forward to taking questions from Members of the Media.