Bermuda confirms ten cases of viral illness
HAMILTON – The Ministry of Health has confirmed a newspaper report that ten residents from the Westmeath Residential and Nursing Home had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the island’s total from the virus past the 100 mark.
A further 213 new test results – of the 1 173 that have now been carried out, were received from across Bermuda over Friday and Saturday, all of which were negative, the ministry said on Saturday night.
These included 74 essential workers, who received negative results at the new drive-through testing facility at Southside, near the international airport, which remains closed to regular commercial flights.
Bermuda is under lockdown until May 2, although more businesses are being allowed to reopen on a limited basis.
The island has now recorded a total of 109 confirmed cases, of which 65 are active.
Eleven people are in hospital, 54 are under active public health monitoring and 39 have recovered. Five people have died.
The average age of people in hospital is 74.
Westmeath, in Pembroke parish, the largest care home in Bermuda, has recorded a total of 13 cases – 11 residents and two staff.
Another care home, Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence, in Devonshire parish, has recorded 27 cases, one of whom died.
Minister of Health Kim Wilson criticised the Royal Gazette newspaper at Friday night’s press briefing for reporting the Westmeath results online earlier in the day.
“There have been questions regarding why we did not release these figures at last night’s [Friday’s] press conference. The answer is that it would have been unethical and insensitive of us to release them publicly before ensuring that the affected persons and their families and doctors were informed first,” she said in a statement on Saturday.
“We cannot rush the correct process to satisfy the thirst for information.
“I ask those who are critical of this approach to imagine how you would feel and react if your family member were a resident in a care home and you heard on the news there was ‘x amount’ of positive cases there.”
Wilson also responded to criticism on why the government did not notify people when it received its first positive case connected to Westmeath.
“That case did not involve a resident, was appropriately contained and, in fact, as it turned out, this case was not linked to the second or third cases. We do not want to create unfounded fear among or stigma towards any facility.
“Investigations were carried out and risk was appropriately contained after the first case. When and if there is a public health risk in any setting, the Ministry of Health will inform the public through official channels.”
Meanwhile, a British Airways chartered flight from London’s Heathrow Airport on Friday night brought in 97 stranded residents and returned to the United Kingdom the following day with 74 passengers. It was not clear who the outgoing passengers were.
Minister of National Security Minister Wayne Caines said the flight also delivered “critical and much needed medical supplies and personal protection equipment”, including 12 000 coronavirus test kits and 10 000 high-protection N95 masks.
Earlier, the Cayman Islands said it had sold 35 000 test kits, part of a 200 000 shipment from South Korea, to Bermuda.
The 35 000 kits went to London while the remaining 165 000 were flown to George Town. (CMC)