COVID-19 update Minister Wilson 6 August

Thursday, August 6th, 2020
The Hon. Kim Wilson

Good Afternoon,

I hope you all had an enjoyable Cup Match.

Today there were 655 test results received by the Ministry of Health, and none were positive for COVID-19.

Bermuda now has 157 total confirmed positive cases. Their status is as follows:

  1. there are 4 active cases, who are
  2. all under active public health monitoring, and
  3. none is hospitalized or in critical care;
  4. a total of 144 have recovered, and
  5. the total deceased remains 9.

The average age of all of our confirmed positive cases is 59 and the age range of all of our positive cases is from 18 to 101 years.

Overall, 54% of all cases are Black, 42% are white and 4% are other or unknown.

The source of all local cases is as follows:

  1. 53 are Imported
  2. 85 are Local transmission, with known contact
  3. 19 are Local transmission with an unknown contact, and
  4. none are under investigation

Bermuda’s country status remains “Sporadic Cases”. The seven-day average of our real time reproduction number is less than 1.

I want to thank all residents who continued to follow public health guidelines over the Cup Match holiday; those who avoided large gatherings of people, those who wore their masks when they couldn’t physically distance themselves from others, those returning travellers who followed the required testing and quarantine protocols…thank you all.

I also want to thank the hard-working testing teams who did not take a break and continued to work throughout the holiday. COVID-19 did not take a break and neither did they. They have been working around the clock to test visitors, returning residents and members of our community. They are a relatively small team, given the demands of their work – and we are looking to expand their ranks…

The testing teams are increasingly stretched due to the volume of travellers arriving in Bermuda on a daily basis. As such, the Ministry of Health is seeking medical personnel to assist our testing teams with the swabbing of individuals for COVID-19.  In particular, we are seeking those with a background in medicine, nursing, dentistry and Emergency Medical Technicians, whether retired, practicing or students in-training.  Individuals will be compensated for their time and should contact for more information or to express an interest.

And now, some good news coming out of the Ministry of health this week…yesterday we opened the COVID-19 testing site for travelers at the historic Perot Post Office.

Thank you to both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Works teams for making this happen – in particular Project Manager Mr. Dean Parris and acting Permanent Secretary Ms Shivon Washington. They put this together so quickly and really did a phenomenal job!

Improvements have already been felt by both staff and travellers attending their required COVID tests. I visited yesterday and the facility is perfectly located, beautifully set up, and enjoys plenty of shade for persons waiting for their turn.  This means that waiting times and lines should shorten at all testing sites, now that we have this specific site just for travellers. The Perot site will operate Monday to Saturday; on Sundays all testing will take place at Southside.

Following the previous COVID-19 modelling, updated parameter values were used to re-estimate the worst case scenario for a one year period following the introduction of COVID-19 in Bermuda. Parameter values are updated over time as more is learned about the epidemiology of COVID-19. 

The base for a new worst case scenario uses an average annual reproductive number of 2.4 and lower hospitalization and mortality rates than previously applied. This new model results in an estimated 1600 hospitalizations (1,658) (range is approximately 1300 – 1900 (1,130-1,884)); and 264 deaths (range 113-377) over a one year period.

However, as before, this worst case scenario is impacted by additional control measures of case isolation and general contact reduction, including personal hygiene measures, wearing of face masks, physical distancing, etc. Highly effective use of these interventions can reduce these estimates – at best – to approximately 100 hospitalizations (range 69-114) and 15 deaths (range 6-21) over a one year period.

It is also important to recognize that there is a difference between the modelled world and the real world and that all possible scenarios cannot be envisioned. Effective application of public health measures is key in keeping infections, hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths low throughout this pandemic.

The updated modelling will be shared on the coronavirus website next week. Please be reminded that the models produce estimates to support public health preparedness and planning and are not predictions of the expected effect of COVID-19 in Bermuda.

Shifting gears a little to address the challenging case that has received much attention this week regarding an intellectually disabled person going through the court system, I want to give full assurance that specialized health professional, court and corrections teams are working to create a solution for this case.

No one wants to see individuals with intellectual disabilities incarcerated and teams have sought to find a solution within our abilities and resources to care for him.  The safety of every individual, as well as staff and other residents is equally important, and finding a solution that accommodates all is a challenge in a small community that lacks specialized resources.

Managing complex intellectual disability and/or forensic mental health cases often requires low or medium secure units with staff that have specialized training. This is not just a matter of facilities, but, more importantly, of specialized manpower in short supply world-wide. So it is not viable for any small community to set up stand-alone resources for every possible scenario. In larger jurisdictions, such scarce specialized resources service large geographical areas.

Creating solutions for individuals outside of existing services takes time, but the inter-agency team continues to work hard to address gaps in local services and seek the best solution for the individual that ensures safety and appropriate support for his needs.

Finally, I want to update that the Government is concerned about the growing number of uninsured and underinsured in light of increased unemployment due to COVID. This risk to individuals and the health system is deeply worrying and we are looking at what healthcare reforms may be needed in an expedited way to ensure that care is available for these persons.

Before closing, I want to end by returning to COVID-19 and reminding us all that while we don’t have local transmission at this time, the behaviours we are observing are putting us at risk.

Remember that people are travelling to and from places with community transmission. It only takes one imported case to spread COVID among the community, which is why we advise against non-essential travel and better adherence to physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.

I have to applaud the venues where we see consistently good adherence to these essential preventive measures: supermarkets, retail stores and buses. They have proven that we can see good compliance and operate safely.

However, I am increasingly concerned about the settings where compliance levels are not good: at private social gatherings, in particular at people’s homes; and on boats, where little physical distancing and mask wearing is practiced at all. These have become the highest risk settings presently.

I ask people to remember that COVID is among us. Letting our guard down when we socialize is the activity putting us most at risk today. Please wear your masks at all times.

Thank You.