Bermuda records seventh COVID-19 case

Premier David Burt said on Wednesday night that Bermuda has recorded its seventh confirmed case in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has claimed more than 20,000 lives globally.

None of the seven cases has required hospitalisation, officials say.

Burt told a news conference that the latest victim was a passenger who flew in on a British Airways flight from London’s Gatwick Airport on March 11.

Premier David Burt

Bermuda’s international airport and seaports have since been closed, although a special flight by Canadian carrier WestJet was laid on from Toronto on Tuesday to bring home a number of Bermudian students among others.

Chief Medical Officer Cheryl Peek-Ball said testing would proceed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, adding that 30 or 40 tests are expected to be carried out on Thursday.

“We are balancing two things — the availability of tests, and the need to identify people who may have COVID-19. We have prioritised healthcare professionals as well as hospitalised patients.”

Peek-Ball said there were “somewhere less than 100” tests on the island at present.

Health Minister Kim Wilson said the government anticipated more by next week, with the help of Public Health England and two private suppliers.

The Premier said that stevedores at the island’s docks were working split shifts to ensure the safe continuation of imports.

“We are balancing two things — the availability of tests, and the need to identify people who may have COVID-19.”

— Chief Medical Officer Cheryl Peek-Ball

“The government of Bermuda is comfortable with the plans laid out that we do not see any disruption to our food or essential supplies at this point in time.”

Burt acknowledged that checks carried out by police and members of the Royal Bermuda Regiment on island roads for people in breach of COVID-19 quarantine rules had caused some delays, but said that “people with no real reason to be on the road” should remain at home.

The government last week cracked down on breaches of the island’s 14-day self-quarantine imposed on returning residents.

Fines of up to US$6,000 were introduced for a first offence and US$10,000 or three months’ imprisonment for a second offence under amendments to public health law.

Burt also told employers: “Before the government takes the heavy-handed approach, if your staff can work from home, let them work from home.”

He added that it was “unconscionable” that some bosses, including large local companies, were blocking some staff from working from home.

He said he had spoken earlier with the premiers of two sister British Overseas Territories – Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands – Alden McLaughlin and Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, who had indicated that “stricter measures” had to be taken against some employers.