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Video: Govt Press Conference On Covid-19

[Updated] The Government is holding a press conference this evening [April 20] to update the public on Covid-19.

Update: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon,

Thank You, Premier.

Today, there were 42 test results received; and I’m pleased to report that none were positive.

Following the week-end’s results, Bermuda’s total confirmed positive cases stands at 86. Their status is as follows:

  • there are 44 active cases, of which
  • 33 persons are under active public health monitoring, and
  • 11 persons are hospitalized;
  • a total of 37 have now recovered, and
  • the total deceased remains at 5.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 55. The median age is 58, and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 91 years. The age of persons hospitalized ranges between 57 and 82 years, and the average age is 72.

Of the 86 positive cases confirmed to date, 37 are males, and 49 are females.

As the Premier stated in a press release yesterday, now that our second lab has come online we have significantly increased the number of people who can be tested in Bermuda for COVID-19.

The next step is to focus on testing healthcare professionals, our vulnerable in seniors homes, contacts of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 and our essential workers.

Everyone who is currently in a government quarantine facility has now been tested for COVID-19, ahead of them returning to their respective homes.

Throughout the day yesterday, over 200 samples were taken from individuals at the six government quarantine facilities.

Preliminary results have been received and those persons who tested positive will be advised of their status by a public health officer or their physician. Persons who tested negative will be able to leave the quarantine facility from 2pm on Tuesday upon completion of their 14 days’ quarantine. They will remain under public health supervision and self-quarantine at home for a further 14 days. Persons who tested positive will be required to quarantine at a Government Quarantine Facility for an additional 14 days and will remain under active public health monitoring including daily temperature checks and phone contact by a public health officer. Those who cannot adequately self-quarantine at home will be able to continue at the quarantine facility.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health issued a press release regarding a very concerning story posted online by one of our media outlets yesterday afternoon. I felt it crucial that the Ministry respond quickly to dispel misinformation. I want to reiterate that information now, if I may.

As reported by the Ministry of Health last weekend, COVID-19 was confirmed at the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence. This involved two residents and two staff members. Unfortunately, these results confirmed spread of the virus within the facility. As a result, all residents and staff underwent testing for COVID-19 and 23 positive results were confirmed in persons associated with the outbreak at the care home.

There was concern that residents of the home may not have been receiving appropriate care. I want to clear that up now…

The Ministry of Health liaised with the facility’s Interim Administrator as soon as the outbreak occurred to ensure that medical care was provided to residents.

All residents who require medical assessments have had them performed by medical professionals and no medication has been given to residents by unqualified personnel.

A Registered Nurse has been attending the facility every night since early last week, while the Department of Health has also provided a Registered Nurse, who has also been attending daily.

On Saturday a medical director was appointed to the facility by the Ministry of Health to provide on-site and off-site medical guidance and intervention in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.

Additionally, the Department of Health will provide Home Resource Aides to the facility.

As of yesterday, a full-time nurse has been appointed to the home.

The Ministry of Health has provided PPE to the facility including gowns, masks, gloves, face shields, goggles, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and trash bags.

Additionally, the Department of Health’s Community Health Nursing staff provided PPE training on Friday morning at the home for all staff regarding the correct use of PPE and Infection Control.

The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit is currently managing the outbreak in the facility and have recommend that additional measures be put in place and has provided further
guidance to the staff in monitoring of their health status, infection control measures, maintaining social distancing, isolation and monitoring of the health status of affected residents.

In conclusion, I want to reassure the public that we are working closely with Bermuda’s 21 care homes as we understand fully the vulnerability of these populations. We have been working with the homes for several months and will continue close collaboration to ensure any concerns are addressed immediately by their Boards and management, and their operations can remain stable.

Thank You.

Update: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:

Good evening Bermuda

We remain humbled to serve as your Government, and are grateful to everyone who has reached out with your words of encouragement, and to everyone who continues to keep us, and the country in your prayers. The days may be long, the work hard, and sometimes discouraging, but through our faith, and with your support we know that we will make it through these days of uncertainty.

Over the weekend, through the combined efforts of the ministries of Health, National Security, and Public Works, together with Dr. Carika Weldon, Bermuda’s testing capacity has been expanded.

This massive game changer in the war on COVID-19 provides us with the means to better protect the health and safety of our community. I would like to thank all of the persons who were involved in that exercise getting Bermuda’s second lab up and running. 209 persons were tested yesterday at six different quarantine facilities, and that is in itself is an incredible feat.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Desiree Spriggs, of the Helix Laboratory, who has worked around the clock, for the last four weeks providing Bermuda on-island testing capability. I am sure that Dr. Spriggs will be relieved that Bermuda now has testing redundancy, and she might be able to relax a little bit.

Today, the Minister of Health will provide an update on the cases of COVID-19 on the island, our expanded testing capacity, and the continued work being done on behalf of all Bermudians in battling this virus. Minister of Health.

The Minister of Health reads her remarks.

Thank you, Minister Wilson.

With economists predicting that we face a global economic crisis unseen since the Great Depression, almost a century ago, we recognize that when we emerge from Shelter in Place together we will have to fight to work to build a Bermuda that works for everyone. Behind the scenes in a massive community effort we are listening to stakeholders, consulting with the general public through the citizens forum, located at forum.gov.bm, and we are designing the economic policies, and stimulus needed to rebuild our economy.

The unemployment benefit is a safety net we created based on our belief that we have an obligation to support those who, through no fault of their own, or unable to work. The Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports, and the Department of Workforce Development are to be credited for getting this program up and running in quick order, and are tirelessly working to get the payments out to applicants who have been economically displaced by this pandemic.

As a Government, we believe that we must listen, we must be flexible, and where appropriate, we must act swiftly to adjust and innovate, so that we can make sure that Bermuda’s families are protected. Minister Foggo will now give an update on the unemployment benefits.

Minister Foggo reads her remarks.

Thank you Minister Foggo. I have heard the stories of persons who may be waiting to get the unemployment benefit. If you are hungry. Please do not suffer in silence. And if you are someone who does not qualify for that benefit and you are having difficulty during this time, please do not suffer in silence. Reach out to the hotline 444-2498. There are many organisations who have stepped up to help less fortunate and the last thing we want to do for Bermuda is for persons to be at home, and are hungry. There is assistance that is available outside of this unemployment benefit, and we want to ensure that persons who are at home who may not have access to food or essentials can get access to food or essentials. It is there please do not suffer at home in silence.

Next will be Minister of National Security, Minister Caines with an update on items from the COVID-19 EMO and his ministry. Minister.

Minister Caines reads his remarks.

Thank you very much Minister. While Shelter in Place is necessary to protect the health and wellbeing of our community, and stop the spread of the coronavirus, we recognize that it has created tremendous stress for many. We are ensuring that every resource we can provide is in place to assist with the economic needs of our people, and while we provide the necessary support and health for the mental health of our residents.

Today, Dr. Alison Daniels, President of the Bermuda Psychology Association will provide some tips on what you can do during this next Shelter in Place period to take care of you and your family’s mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Daniels.

Dr. Daniels reads her remarks.

Thank you very much, Dr. Daniels. Before we go to questions I would like to again thank everyone in our community who is doing their part to protect the health and safety of our island home. You are appreciated, and we are truly grateful for the work and sacrifice that you are making for all of us.

This morning I received a message from a patient in the hospital, and she wanted me to know that she’s receiving exceptional service and support from the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital, and wanted to extend her thanks and appreciation.

To everyone who is struggling, you are not alone. You have not been forgotten, and we are here for you. We will continue to listen, continue to be flexible, and continue to innovate wherever we can. And we will find ways to continue helping Bermudians during this difficult period.

Throughout our history Bermudians have adapted to the circumstances and challenges of the day, and through hard work, sacrifice and a willingness to do things in a new way, we have done more than just survive. We have thrived. Imagine if Bermudians of 100 years ago had just laid down with the tobacco growing industry, shipbuilding industry, and onion agricultural business could no longer sustain us. Imagine if Bermudians of old had never been willing to pursue tourism, or welcome International Business to our shores. Where would we be without our historic and cultural willingness to recognise the times, know the times, and change with the times?

It has been said that Bermudians do not like change, and can be slow to change. However, history shows that when the chips are down, we are, and have had to be, one of the most adaptable and resilient people in the world.

This pandemic is a challenge creating circumstances that none of us could have foreseen or could have prevented. It will take sacrifice, and it will take a community wide willingness to adapt and change. It will take unity of vision, unity of purpose, and unity of the spirit to emerge from this stronger. But, I’m confident that we will.

Finally before questions I have a special announcement. Today, I’m honored to wish, Miss Phyllis Wade, a very happy and special 100th birthday with love from her entire family and everyone in Bermuda. I have known Miss Phyllis Wade for most of my life. She is a bright spark, and even at the age of 100 she continues to be a bright spark. Miss Wade, enjoy your 100th.

Though your family may not have been able to throw that big party, everyone in Bermuda knows that you are inviting them to, we all now know your age, and we are now, wishing you the best happy 100th birthday possible. With that, I’m happy to take any questions that the members of the media may have.

Update: Minister Wayne Caines’ full statement follows below:

The Royal Bermuda Regiment [RBR] continue their deployment across the island providing support in a variety of capacities. In partnership with the BPS the RBR recorded the following stops at the Community Advisory Points over a three day period. On Friday 15,213 stops were recorded. On Saturday – there were 8,596 stops; and on Sunday, the RBR recorded 5,031 stops.

We expect that over the next two weeks there will be more movement on our roads due to more businesses being granted approval to operate. With more residents travelling on our roads there will be longer lines at our community check points.

To be clear, the Bermuda Regiment will continue to be vigilant in checking vehicles at the stop points. I encourage commuters to exercise patience during this process and to have your identification on hand in order to avoid delays at the check points.

The RBR is also assisting the Ministry of National Security in the processing of exemption requests. And they continue to provide an invaluable service in supporting our healthcare workers at the BHB and Department of Health. Lastly as the public can appreciate, there are approximately 200 soldiers currently mobilized. We have instituted a plan where they are housed in various locations around the island. This is an efficient protocol, because it reduces the travel time of our soldiers – and – more importantly this helps mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure to our soldiers. I wish to just extend my sincere thanks on behalf of the Ministry to the Acting Commanding Officer, Major Benjamin Beasley, the RBR leadership and of course to all our men and women in the Royal Bermuda Regiment for their service and their sacrifice in helping to keep Bermuda safe.

The Minister also provided an update regarding the Shelter in Place regulations for permitted businesses, which became effective today Monday, 20th April.

Over the weekend, the Ministry of National Security worked to ensure that a process was in place so that businesses could get the requisite approvals. Throughout the day, we have been processing online submissions received from a number of businesses seeking to operate during this next Shelter in Place period.

As of 5.00 p.m. today, I can confirm that we have received 82 submissions in total, with 50 approved and 32 pending approval. As part of our process we acknowledge receipt of a submitted application and advise the applicant that we will subsequently notify them as to whether they have been successful in receiving permission to operate. We will provide a list of those approved businesses in due course.”

Lastly, we appreciate that his has been a very anxious process for some businesses. And I want to thank them for sharing their feedback, suggestions and concerns regarding operating a service during the Shelter in Place period. We continue to ask for their patience as we work through this approval process.

Again, I think it’s critically important to remind the public that we must ensure that we are following the health guidance to protect all our residents from the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. We have an obligation and responsibility to uphold the safeguarding of our community. Any businesses that are approved will be under strict operational guidelines and we urge the public to adhere to them. It’s important to remember that these guidelines are in place to save lives.