The Government will be holding a press conference this evening [Feb 16] to update the public on Covid-19.
Update 6.26pm: Some of the key points so far from this evening are below
- No new cases. Remains 695 total cases with 4 active
- 12,568 vaccines administered
- The 12am to 5am curfew will come to an end
- Premier David Burt said, “Regulations that remain in place: Indoor funerals- up to 25% of the maximum capacity for the venue in which they are held | Outdoor funerals- up to 50 persons | Table size in restaurants & bars remains at ten persons | The max size for group gatherings remains 25 persons.
- The Cabinet has approved changes to the following regulations: The 12AM – 5AM curfew, will come to an end & the last night of curfew will be on Wednesday | All liquor licensed establishments will now be allowed to remain open until midnight [previously closed at 11pm].”
Update 7.07pm: Minister Kim Wilson’s full statement follows below:
There were 242 test results received by the Ministry of Health since the last update, and none were positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, since the last update, there were no recoveries.
There are currently four active cases, of which;
- Three are under public health monitoring and
- One is in hospital with none in critical care.
Since March 2020, Bermuda has recorded 695 total confirmed cases of COVID-19; out of those, 679 persons have recovered, and 12 persons have sadly succumbed to COVID-19.
The mean age of all confirmed positive cases is 43 years [median: 40 years], and the ages range from less than 1 year to greater than 100 years.
To protect privacy and confidentiality, age information will not be provided on the active or hospitalized cases.
The mean age of all deceased cases is 75 years [median: 77 years], and the ages range from less than 60 years [age group: 50-59 years] to greater than 80 years [age group: 80-100 years].
The source of all cases is as follows:
- 201 are imported
- 493 are classified as local transmission of which:
- 402 are local transmission with known contact/source and
- 91 are local transmission with an unknown contact/source
- 1 is under investigation
As investigations proceed, transmission categories may change.
Of the more than 170,000 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.
Additionally, during the week of 7 to 13 February, 253 saliva screening tests were conducted. Therefore, as of 13 February 2021, results have been received for 5,123 saliva screenings. The mean age of all persons screened is 59 years [median: 59 years], and the ages range from less than 10 years to greater than 100 years.
The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than one and Bermuda’s current country status remains “Sporadic Cases”.
On the subject of testing…
Again, I will remind residents needing outbound COVID-19 tests that you must book yourself in for outbound travel testing via one of the community sites at Penno’s Wharf, Bull’s Head or Star of India. Do not go to Perot Post Office for this.
You can book through: gov.bm/coronavirus-get-tested. There will be no walk-ins.
It is critical to book at least two days before the date you plan to leave Bermuda. This meets the 72-hour rule imposed by the US, UK and Canada, and gives the MDL lab more leeway to process results in time for your departure.
You should not get the test the day before or the day of travel as this leaves no room for unexpected delays. Please visit gov.bm for information on outbound testing.
I will now provide an update on our vaccine programme…
We have completed the fifth full week of vaccinations, and the third week using two Vaccination Centres operating six days a week. For the five week period from January 11 to February 13, 2021, Bermuda has administered a total of 12,568 vaccinations – a figure that rises to 13,155 if you include yesterday’s vaccinations as well! – all of which is a great achievement.
Of the 12,568 vaccinations administered for the period we are reporting on which ends February 13,
- 6,983 [or 56%] are women, and,
- 5,585 [or 44%] are men.
Bermuda’s goal of “herd immunity” will be achieved when 70% of the population [64,054] has been immunized. To date, 15% of the population has been vaccinated [with 1 dose] and 4% of the population has been immunized [with 2 doses]
Each week since January 11 has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations administered, with 3,467 vaccinations delivered last week. The public has accessed these vaccines as follows:
- The Vaccination Centre at the Police Recreation Club administered 7,135 or 57% of vaccinations,
- 697 or 5% were administered at rest homes and long term care facilities,
- 4641 or 37% were administered at the Bermuda Hospitals Board Vaccination Centre, and,
- 95 or 1% were administered at Other Vaccination Sites.
Assessed against Bermuda’s vaccination priority targets:-
In Phase 1A
- 1,834 persons or 59% of those aged 80 years and older have been vaccinated. 1,300 have had one vaccination, and 534 [17%] are fully immunized.
- 370 person or 50% of residents in rest homes and long term care have been vaccinated. 96 have had one vaccination, and 274 [37%] are fully immunized.
- 1,226 health care workers or 50% have been vaccinated. 346 have had one vaccination and 880 [36%] are fully immunized.
- 1,192 essential workers or 50 % have been vaccinated. 634 have had one vaccination and 558 [24%] are fully immunized.
In Phase 1B
- 4,161 persons or 44% of those aged 65 – 79 years have been vaccinated. 3,627 have had one vaccination and 568 [6%] are fully immunized.
These are great results so far, and I would like to thank all those who have taken the step to get their vaccination to protect themselves, their families and our community. I want to continue to encourage our extremely clinically vulnerable persons, healthcare workers and people over the age of 80 to please get the vaccination. We need you, as the backbone of our community, to be one step closer to safety in this pandemic.
With that, I would also like to announce that we are moving to Phase 2 of the National Vaccination Allocation Strategy now.
In Phase 2 we encourage anyone over 50, an essential traveller [medical or school travel], persons with heart disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, for example, as well as those with disabilities, to register their interest.
Although we are moving to Phase 2, please remember that registering your interest does not guarantee you an appointment immediately. When you submit your registration form, you will receive an automated confirmation receipt. When an appointment is available, you will receive an email and text message to confirm your appointment. Some appointments will continue to be made by phone as well.
Priority will still be given to those persons in Phases 1A and B – this includes people who are 80 or older, care home residents, health care and essential workers, people 65 or older and people who are extremely vulnerable, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or with severe asthma or COPD.
Remember, our appointment system is based on a medical risk assessment that, in turn, is based on age and clinical vulnerability. I am stressing this because we continue to receive complaints that some younger people get the vaccine before older people. Please know essential workers are in Phase 1A, and some of these people are younger than seniors with no medical conditions. Also, please remember that medical risk assessment is necessary to set appointments. Except in limited circumstances, our medical team can’t look at a person and diagnose their medical conditions; that is why we do a medical risk assessment.
With regard to the numbers of persons who have registered interest… To the week ending February 13, 17,605 persons have registered their interest in getting vaccinated. The breakdown is as follows:
- 3,712 Black
- 8,580 White
- 1,833 Mixed or Other, and,
- 3,480 Prefer not to say or Not Specified.
For those of you who have registered already – thank you and please encourage your loved ones who may be in the priority groups to register. We cannot do this alone. If you wish to find out more information about the vaccine and how to support your loved ones, visit: gov.bm/vaccine. It is especially important that we continue to do everything we can to try and reduce the spread of this deadly virus. This includes continuing to wear masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene and downloading the WeHealth Bermuda app – but these measures are not enough by themselves.
To repeat, again, getting vaccinated is important as the vaccine will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. If you do get COVID-19, you are likely to experience milder symptoms and become less ill, as your body is better able to fight off the virus.
Those who are not vaccinated are at a higher risk of becoming infected if they are exposed to the virus and, if they become infected, they are more likely to develop serious illness compared with those who have been vaccinated.
They also risk further passing their infection onto others. This includes people in the population who are unable to develop an immune response to fight infectious diseases and are at a high of serious complications and death. Remember that not everyone can be vaccinated.
There are people with underlying health conditions such as a severe allergy to a vaccine component who may not be able to get vaccinated. These people can still be protected if they live among others who are vaccinated. When a lot of people in a community are vaccinated the virus has a hard time circulating because most of the people it encounters are immune. In other words, the virus comes up against a ‘dead end’.
The more others are immunized, the less likely it is that people who are unable to be vaccinated are put at risk of even being exposed to the virus. This is the herd immunity that is our goal.
I am also pleased to say the new COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at the Bermuda College Campus on South Shore in Paget opened yesterday. With capacity for up to 10 vaccination stations, this vaccination centre replaces the vaccination centre at the Police Recreation Club. There will now be two sites – the Bermuda College Campus and Bermuda Hospitals Board. These two sites will allow the Ministry to dramatically increase the number of doses administered to our community when needed.
The Bermuda College Vaccination Centre will be open Monday-Saturday from 8.00am to 8.00pm and vaccinations will continue to be on an appointment only basis. PLEASE no walk-ins. I would also like to remind all residents who had their first vaccination at the Police Recreation Club, that their second vaccinations will be at the Bermuda College Vaccination Centre. Again, if your second appointment was scheduled for Prospect, you will need to go to the Bermuda College for your second dose. You will receive reminder emails of your appointments.
And please do not miss your second dose. It is extremely important to receive both doses as the two-dose regimen is proven to be dramatically more effective. While you get some immunity – approximately 52% – from the first injection, the second dose boosts the immunity to 95% effectiveness.
If you do have to change your appointment, we ask that you call the Vaccination Hotline at 444 2498 [option #2] or email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can so that we can re-schedule your appointment.
Regarding changes in requirements and restrictions once a person is immunised…
As many know, ending this pandemic largely rests on the success of vaccines in preventing COVID-19 and limiting its spread. However, vaccines are not a silver bullet that will see an immediate end to the pandemic. While COVID-19 vaccines approved for use are confirmed to be safe and effective, the research about the length of time they provide protection and limit transmission is ongoing. The reality is that successful attempts to control the virus will require global cooperation and equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines.
In Bermuda, we estimate that 70% of the population needs to be fully vaccinated for us to achieve herd immunity. It will take some time to reach that goal, and so a more immediate goal is the immunization of 90% of persons over 65 years – this is our most vulnerable group. The public health measures will continue but will be adjusted as follows:
- Persons who are fully immunized, and providing proof of this, will no longer be subject to the Travellers’ First 14 Days as it pertains to activities such as dining indoors, attending meetings and playing close contact sports, however,
- Persons who are fully immunized will continue to be subject to the traveller testing regime of a pre-arrival, on arrival and day 4, 8 and 14 tests.
These changes will come into force on I March but public health measures such as mask wearing, restrictions on the size of large gatherings, the number of people seated at tables in restaurants, and table service rather than bar service will continue at this time, whether or not you are immunized.
Finally, it is important to note the Ministry will continue to be vigilant in monitoring the key performance indicators of:
- Number of confirmed cases
- WHO transmission classification
- Vaccine transmissibility data
- Reproduction number and
- % of population immunised [total and by priority groups especially for most vulnerable]
We are able to make these changes largely because we have been functioning with controlled border requirements for several months now – we are already open to travellers.
My closing message to everyone is to continue to follow the public health measures and guidelines put in place for our collective safety. Continue to wear your mask and practice physical distancing. And get vaccinated when it is your turn.
As always, stay safe, Bermuda, and, remember, I wear a mask to protect you; you wear a mask to protect me.
Update 8.12pm: Premier David Burt’s full statement follows below:
Good Evening Bermuda,
Tonight I am joined by the Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson, who will provide you with an update on the latest vaccination statistics, rule changes for immunized persons, and further updates from her Ministry.
Following the minister of Health, I will update the country on the COVID-19 regulations approved by the Cabinet earlier today which will be in effect for the next two weeks, matters surrounding Bermuda’s tourism economy, and preview the House of Assembly which resumes on Friday.
I am overjoyed to be joined again today by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ayo Oyinloye, who will assist with any technical or medical questions from the media.
First, we will hear from the Minister of Health…
Thank you Minister of Health, four active cases is great news. I thank you and your team for your incredible work through all phases of the pandemic. Thanks largely to the work of the Ministry of Health team, we are among the world’s leading countries in managing the coronavirus, particularly in regards to testing and vaccine doses administered.
Including the vaccine doses administered yesterday, Bermuda is now #7 in the world in the number of vaccine doses administered relative to population size. We are #5 in the world for testing per capita – and we would be higher if we included our saliva PCR tests in that figure. Through this work, we have managed the spread of the coronavirus, and therefore, we can further ease public health measures for Bermuda.
Today, in line with recommendations from the Ministry of Health and with the support of the COVID-19 Cabinet Committee, the Cabinet has agreed that all public health regulations remain in place as follows:
- Indoor funerals can hold up to 25% of the maximum capacity for the venue in which they are held.
- Outdoor funerals can be attended by up to 50 persons.
- Table size in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs remains at ten persons.
- The maximum size for group gatherings in a private or public setting remains at 25 persons.
- Boating curfew remains at 8 pm.
The Cabinet has approved the changes to the following regulations.
- The 12 am – 5 am curfew, will come to an end and the last night of curfew will be on Wednesday Night.
- All liquor licensed establishments will now be allowed to remain open until 12 midnight, giving them an additional hour of operations as they have previously been required to close at 11 pm. The reasoning for this is similar to the rationale I provided two weeks ago for keeping a curfew in place. It is still critical to keep social mixing at a safe level, especially in situations where alcohol is consumed.
- Businesses will no longer be required to close at 11 pm, and as long as they are not a liquor licensed establishment, they can remain open. The means that you can get your late night food again.
These changes will come into effect on Thursday, February 18th, at 6 am. Until these measures officially change, please continue to adhere to the curfew as it stands now – as the enforcement of the law will continue until Thursday morning. All measures will be reviewed by the Cabinet in two weeks.
The Government is pleased to announce the end of the curfew and has no desire to reimpose such measures again. However, it is crucial for everyone to understand that the Government will not hesitate to take action and reimplement regulations should this become necessary to stop another outbreak.
It would be understandable that members of the public will ask what the Government is doing to help ensure that ending curfew now does not lead to a rise in cases later. The Minister of Health stated at our press conference two weeks ago; saliva screening has been ongoing since September of last year for Bermuda Hospitals Board staff, long-term care staff and residents and select essential and hospitality workers.
In order to be proactive and ensure we remain able to manage any spread of the virus, enhanced community and occupational saliva screening will start this weekend, beginning with local sports teams.
This screening programme will then expand to include other groups that the Ministry of Health identifies as necessary to screen.
The Government is keen to get sports to Return to Play in full, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as the country battled the pandemic and got the latest outbreak under control. Contact sports can be a high risk setting when it comes to COVID transmission, so we have to be cautious in allowing return to play in case there are any latent cases in the community that we have not detected which could lead to renewed outbreaks.
Saliva testing to participate in close-contact training will commence this week, starting with the sports with the largest proportion of registrants. On Thursday and Friday, we will be testing the football national team players, and domestic clubs next week. Volleyball, which has 100% registration, will test on Saturday and Sunday. Next week further sports will be rolled out.
The Government encourages all close-contact sports athletes aged 11 years or older, wishing to participate in Stage 3 training to register for saliva COVID testing as soon as possible so that a testing date can be set up for your sport.
While we had initially contemplated commencing Stage 4 of sports this week, due to the slow take-up of testing registrations and logistical delays in rolling out the testing, we will have to wait a little longer for Stage 4 [contact sports competitive play] to begin.
Realistically we can’t safely allow a contact sport to go to Stage 4 with only a small proportion of athletes testing, so I encourage all contact sport players aged 11 and older to register today. Your sporting body has been sent the link for your registration, and it is a very quick and easy process.
The Government is determined to ensure that we do not hastily remove the legislative mechanisms that helped us successfully navigate this pandemic until we are confident that the coronavirus no longer requires Bermuda to be in a state of a Public Health Emergency. This Friday, February 19th, the House of Assembly will reconvene and will debate an extension to the Public Health Emergency Order upon the recommendation by the Minister of Health.
This Friday the Government will also debate cannabis legislation that was tabled in the House of Assembly by the Attorney General in December. This legislation is in keeping with the Government’s election platform pledge to develop a regulated domestic cannabis industry in Bermuda that will create new economic opportunities for Bermudian entrepreneurs while enhancing protections for young persons in our community.
I look forward to this debate, and I encourage all persons to tune into the debate on 105.1 FM, www.parliament.bm, or on www.bernews.com.
As Bermuda and other countries progress with vaccinations, we must also consider how we will safely increase visitor arrivals to support Bermudians who are in the hospitality business. Supporting tourism is good for our economy.
As the Minister of Health announced, the rules for vaccinated travellers will change effective Monday March 1st. This is an early step that we can take as we look to increase safe tourism to Bermuda. It is the Government’s hope that our reputation as a COVID-19 safe destination, our reliable testing regime and our top 10 global ranking vaccination statistics will encourage vaccinated travellers to visit our island in the coming months.
As we prepare to welcome vaccinated tourists to our shores, we need to step up our tourism marketing. The BTA is looking to capture more sports tourism and wedding business in Bermuda. To ensure that we can effectively market to this segment, a task force has been set up to streamline the process for large event approvals for both our local entrepreneurs and tourists who may wish to host events in Bermuda. This task force consists of representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of National Security, the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and the Ministry of Youth, Culture & Sport.
I will also assure all Bermudians that our focus will not solely be on our borders and tourism. The Government is aware that domestically there is work to be done, to improve the everyday lives of Bermudians, and we will continue to execute plans to stimulate our domestic economy.
Phase 1 of the Ministry of Public Works Economic Stimulus Program has over 100 applicants. This program offers small and medium-sized contractors the opportunity to work on infrastructure construction projects. The Ministry estimates that projects will provide work for 243 people. I am thrilled that so many companies applied to be a part of this program and I want to commend the Minister of Public works and the team at the BEDC for ensuring such wide participation of entrepreneurs.
As I wrap up, we know that many in our community may need extra emotional support. If you need someone to talk with, call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline. The phone number is 543-1111. The line is operated Monday to Saturday, from 5 pm – 9 pm.
This help is available if you need someone to talk with, whether you are:
- feeling anxious;
- feeling isolated;
- or if you are not feeling yourself.
Again, the phone number is 543-1111. Please call as help is available.
To get accurate, reliable and timely information sign up for the Government’s WhatsApp service. Add the phone number 504-6045 to your contacts and send us a simple message saying ‘hi’, and you will receive WhatsApp updates from the Government.
Additionally, you can get Government updates by downloading the Treefrog app – go to the App Store or Google Play, in the search bar, type in Treefrog Bermuda and download the free app today.
In closing; Bermuda, we are close to coming to a place where we can end this perpetual reality of living under a public health emergency. It is up to all of us, as a community, to stay committed to actions that will help move us forward. We must continue to wear our masks, maintain physical distance, practice good hand hygiene, download the WeHealth Bermuda app and adhere to the Public Health Regulations that remain in place.
When it is your turn, please register to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As I have stated in the past, the Government’s goal is to vaccinate 19,000 people by March 31st. Including vaccines administered yesterday, we have now successfully administered over 13,155 doses. We must all work together so that our energy, time and resources can be devoted to rebuilding our island, diversifying our economy, and getting more Bermudians back to work.
It has been a blessing to be able to speak to you tonight about the future, rather than solely discussing restrictions and regulations. While the pandemic is not over, we have all worked hard to limit its impact on our daily lives here in Bermuda.
We are an excellent example to the world and the sacrifices that those who call Bermuda home have not been in vain. We are 7th in the world in vaccinations, and 5th in the world in coronavirus testing; these are statistics that should make us proud. We have done this by working together so I ask that we all continue to work together so that we can end this public health emergency and hopefully have a summer that Bermudians and vaccinated travellers can enjoy.