Bermuda has ordered testing kits, as well as extra hand sanitiser, protective masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment, as it prepares for a worst-case scenario with respect to COVID-19.
David Burt, premier of Bermuda, said testing kits are expected on-island the week commencing March 16. “The ability to test and have faster results is critical to mitigating the risk of community spread of the virus,” he said.
He added: “The Minister of Finance has made necessary funding available to support these preparatory stages and any further measures that may be necessary.”
Burt called for the Bermudian community to exercise sensitivity and adopt different practices in their everyday lives.
“We will have heard the term ‘social distancing’, and it is something we must now adopt,” he said. “We will all need to curb our natural affinity to shake hands, kiss and hug on greeting each other whether in our workplaces, churches or places of entertainment. We must be prepared to do all that we can to ward against community transmission in the event that we may have COVID-19 on our shores. The best way to protect our families and loved ones is for all of us who call Bermuda home to be vigilant in our actions.”
He warned that cases of COVID-19 are detected on Bermuda that cannot be traced to recent travel history, further action to limit the spread of the virus may be necessary, including postponing events and gatherings.
However, Burt also called for calm. “This is a time for unity and collective action,” he said. “It is a time to reinforce the sensible steps necessary to minimise any possible transmission in Bermuda to keep our loved ones safe. The coronavirus is a threat, but there are examples of many countries around the world that have taken strong action to minimise that threat. I am confident that together, Bermuda will do the same, and our unity in this time of challenge will be our strength.”
Burt confirmed he and the Minister of Finance will imminently be meeting with local and international business representatives to ensure business continuity and fair treatment of workers in the event of a worst-case scenario.
Burt spoke to the media on March 12 following a meeting of the Public Health Emergency Response Team (PHERT) to confirm plans and identify any additional resource needs agencies have as they prepare for the worst-case scenario.
PHERT has been meeting regularly since the international outbreak of COVID-19. PHERT is determined to learn early lessons from countries where the virus is spreading rapidly, and where there are recorded cases of both seriously ill people and deaths, Burt said.
“As we watch the rest of the world combat the various issues that arise as a result of the aggressive spread of the virus we have the opportunity to be nimble and develop plans that will mitigate the impact on Bermuda,” said Burt.
The Government of Bermuda has also made provisions for employees to work remotely, ehere necessary. The Ministry of Education has plans in place to support delivery of the curriculum to students outside of the traditional school classroom setting.
“The Minister of Finance met with the Bermuda Banking Association, and additionally, the Minister of Finance and I will meet with hospitality, local and international business representatives to ensure both business continuity in the event of a worst-case scenario, as well as fair and equitable treatment for workers who may be impacted by COVID-19,” said Burt.
Burt has also met with the US consul general and the governor to confirm Bermuda’s requests, through diplomatic channels in the US and UK, for additional equipment for use by first responders and the general public. He said all non-essential travel should be cancelled for members of the public service and all public authorities.
COVID-19, David Burt, Public Health Emergency Response Team. PHERT, Minister of Finance,