“Unfortunately, there is evidence of increasing Covid-19 infections in the community,” Minister of Health Kim Wilson said, adding that “however, the good news is that we are better positioned to manage the outbreaks because of the high vaccination rates and a less deadly virus strain.”
Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday [June 16] the Minister said, “Most positive cases of Covid-19 are not reported to the Ministry of Health with the increased use of self-testing in the community. However, the Ministry of Health can monitor trends based on what is reported from select healthcare providers and facilities, including BHB, and monitoring of outbreaks, in schools, long-term care facilities, and other identified sites.”
The Minister’s full statement follows below:
Mr Speaker and Honourable Members, I rise today to provide COVID-19 Public Information and Guidance.
Unfortunately, there is evidence of increasing COVID-19 infections in the community. However, the good news is that we are better positioned to manage the outbreaks because of the high vaccination rates and a less deadly virus strain.
Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the public to continue taking precautions to avoid catching and transmitting COVID-19, such as practising social distancing, good hygiene and respiratory etiquette, including washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, and disposing of used tissues immediately.
If you suspect you have COVID-19 symptoms, take a home antigen test or contact your healthcare provider. Regardless of symptoms, if you test positive for COVID-19 you should isolate for a minimum of five days from the positive test date. Close Contacts of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 should monitor their health for symptoms and test for a minimum of five days from the date of last exposure. Individuals can contact their healthcare provider for further guidance.
Additional precautions may be required in certain settings, including, but not limited to, schools, long-term care facilities, etc.
Mr. Speaker, most positive cases of COVID-19 are not reported to the Ministry of Health with the increased use of self-testing in the community. However, the Ministry of Health can monitor trends based on what is reported from select healthcare providers and facilities, including BHB, and monitoring of outbreaks, in schools, long-term care facilities, and other identified sites.
Reports through this surveillance system indicated the following:
The number of cases reported in May doubled compared to April but remained less than the number reported in March. There was an accompanied significant increase in hospitalisations in May as compared to April and March. This increase appears to be continuing through these early days of June, with a few patients currently receiving treatment in the hospital. There have been no ICU admissions.
Mr. Speaker, as reported, there was a COVID-related death in March, and one additional death in May. There have been eight recently reported COVID-19 outbreaks among long-term care facilities, schools, childcare facilities and another identified site. Three of these outbreaks have been resolved, and the others are still ongoing, with the individual sites having advised those concerned in accordance with guidance from the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. Individual sites may consider additional precautions based on their circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 vaccines will become available this autumn. However, COVID- 19 antivirals and therapeutics, Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, are available in Bermuda by prescription only from a physician.
Oral antivirals stop the virus that causes COVID-19 from making copies of itself in your body. They have been taken by millions of people and successfully treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in persons at high risk of becoming seriously ill. These pills can help people infected with COVID- 19 avoid hospitalisation or death.
Paxlovid and Molnupiravar are available to the following patients:
- Paxlovid: Adults and children [12 years of age and older, weighing at least 88 pounds [40 kg]] who are at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 and have mild to moderate symptoms.
- Molnupiravir: Adults 18 years and older who are at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 and do not have access to other COVID-19 outpatient treatment options or other options that are inappropriate for them and who have mild to moderate symptoms.
A doctor can check your eligibility for oral antivirals and prescribe them if appropriate. Oral antivirals are taken as soon as possible after testing positive for COVID-19, no later than five days after your first symptoms appear. These pills are taken at home two times a day for five days.
Mr, Speaker, the reporting of COVID numbers ceased on 31 March 2023 as indicated on the government website. Summary updates on COVID-19 and other conditions under Public Health surveillance can be found at www.gov.bm/health-information. This page is updated weekly on Wednesdays, and although it does not report specific COVID numbers, it does provide an indication of whether the country is experiencing an increase in cases.
Again, I want to encourage the public to continue taking precautions to avoid catching and transmitting COVID-19.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.