As we head into the festive holiday season, we are reminding the public to take precautions to avoid catching the flu, coronavirus or Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other respiratory viruses prevalent during colder weather.
We all want to enjoy this holiday season free and clear of any illnesses, and we especially do not want to catch and spread COVID. However, unfortunately COVID is still out there in our community.
I can advise that there is currently an increase in respiratory viruses and Covid-19 infections on the island.
Our hospital is also experiencing an increase in patients visiting the ER and being admitted with respiratory illnesses. And sadly, we have quite a few of our nursing homes with COVID outbreaks as well.
This is especially worrying. These are vulnerable people. Anyone visiting our care homes should wear a mask and take an antigen test. If a care home asks you to wear a mask and take a Covid test, you must wear the mask and take the test, whether you are a visitor or service provider. All businesses in Bermuda are allowed to set their own policies for the people who enter their premises, and, yes, this can include mask and antigen testing.
During this festive period, mask wearing is strongly recommended. Masks have been proven to help reduce the transmission of several respiratory viruses.
I strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. And remember to avoid the “Three Cs”: close contact, crowded spaces and confined places with poor ventilation. The “Three Cs” are especially important if you live in a high-risk household with people who have preexisting conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease or anyone who is immune- compromised. Our vulnerable community also includes patients undergoing cancer treatment.
Anyone who suspects they are positive for the coronavirus or have been a close contact, should get tested. Numerous pharmacies offer Covid testing in addition to the home test kits you can buy off the shelf.
By law, you must isolate immediately if you test positive on a COVID-19 test (whether self-administered, a verified or supervised antigen or a PCR test).
If you test positive you must adhere to the following guidance:
Whether you are fully immunised or not :
- Isolate for 5 days from the first day of COVID-19 symptoms or the date of your positive test sample(if you have no symptoms) - (the date of your positive test sample or onset of symptoms is day zero)
- If at Day 5, you have had no symptoms for at least 2 days, take a supervised or self-administered antigen test
- If you have no symptoms and the Day 5 test is negative, stay isolated and take a supervised or self-administered antigen test on Day 6
- If you have no symptoms and the Day 6 test is negative, end isolation and follow public health guidance.
- If you have symptoms at Day 5, stay isolated until Day 7
- If at Day 7, you have had no symptoms for 2 days, take a supervised or self-administered antigen test on Day 7
- If you have no symptoms and the Day 7 test is negative, end isolation and follow public health guidance.
- If at Day 7, you continue to have symptoms or test positive, stay isolated until you have not had symptoms for at least 2 days and have one negative supervised or self-administered antigen test.
- If you continue to have symptoms or test positive for COVID- 19 up until Day 14, see your doctor, who will advise you when to end isolation.
You can find this guidance on gov.bm.
Please remember that as we continue to live safely with Covid, vaccination remains the best way to fight the coronavirus.
The Pfizer-BioNTech original Adult formulation and Moderna Bivalent vaccine and boosters are available through participating GP offices, Pharmacies and Paediatricians.
We are grateful for the collective efforts of local pharmacies, GPs, paediatricians, the Bermuda Diabetes Center and the St John’s Ambulance Brigade, who have been administering the vaccines.
I strongly urge all eligible individuals to get the coronavirus vaccination and get boosted, on time. Contact your GP or a participating pharmacy to make an appointment.
Vaccines are offered to Bermuda’s residents who meet the following criteria:
- Children 5 to 11 years old are eligible for a 1st or 2nd dose only. The time between doses must be at least 21 days.
- Persons 12 and above are eligible for 1st, 2nd or 3rd dose.
The time between the 1st and 2nd dose must be at least 21 days. The time between the 2nd dose and 3rd dose booster must be at least 5 months.
- Residents 50 or older, and immunocompromised residents of any age are eligible for a 4th dose, and subsequent doses, provided their last dose was at least 5 months ago.
- Health and essential workers of any age are eligible for a 4th dose, and subsequent doses, provided their last dose was at least 5 months ago.
Before I end, I also want to remind businesses, again, that they can set their Covid policy for staff, customers, service providers and any member of the public attending that premises. I am asking everyone to be aware that if a business requires a Covid test and/or mask, then that is what must be done.
During the holidays, be mindful of the risks you are taking when you are attending parties, dinners and events. None of us want to be sick during the holidays.
Take appropriate safety measures to protect yourself, your loved ones and our vulnerable community – seniors and those who are immunocompromised.
I wish everyone a joyful and safe holiday season. Please stay safe Bermuda.