Update Regarding Preparedness for COVID-19

6 March, 2020

Today the Government of Bermuda can confirm that it has ordered 400 cases of hand sanitizer which are scheduled to arrive on-island next week.

Earlier this week, Government announced that it was actively working to secure extra supplies of hand sanitizer and other protective resources for the island, amidst a global shortage. Government will distribute free hand sanitizer at various locations across the island, starting with at-risk segments of the population such as seniors. Additionally, Government will waive customs duty on hand sanitizer and other supplies as deemed necessary, in the fight against influenza and COVID-19.

“Washing hands and using antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer may seem like overly simple things to do to combat serious respiratory illnesses but they are, in fact, two of the most effective methods,” explained Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball. 

The Government has been actively planning for cruise ship season based on the threat of COVID-19. All cruise ship lines serving Bermuda have been contacted and they have shared their individual policies  for the health screening of passengers.

“By liaising closely with shipping agents, Government personnel are preparing for the planned arrival of all cruise ships to the island,” said Director of the Department of Health David Kendell.  “Under the International Health Regulations, all ships must forward a Declaration of Health (form) to the Department of Health which must be received at least 24 hours before the ship’s arrival. The declaration will detail any instances of infectious diseases onboard and lists any previous ports of call. By having this information in advance we can make decisions based on risk assessments and in-line with the International Health Regulations as to whether or not we need to intervene in any way. We also carry out full inspections of cruise ships on request in order to issue Ship Sanitation Certificates.”

Additional nurses from across the healthcare profession are currently undergoing training to deal with investigation and case management  when there are suspect cases in the community. 

911 telephone operators have adjusted their ordinary protocols with enhanced questioning of callers, in order to deal with situations involving a possible case of COVID-19, to ensure that everyone gets the right services and the right care by deploying the appropriate emergency services.

At the airport, the Department of Health has committed to covering every incoming flight with the presence of a port health nurse. Additionally, supported by their senior managers, customs officers performing the primary immigration function in the Arrivals Hall  have been closely monitoring activities on the primary line and asking the appropriate travel history and health related questions questions of incoming passengers.  

Information will be sent today to religious institutions across the island with tips they can share with their congregations this weekend regarding the prevention of respiratory illness.

The Minister of Health the Hon. Kim Wilson said, “I would like to re-emphasize the importance of practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and common sense. It is important to remind members of the public that if they feel unwell with respiratory symptoms, to please call ahead before entering any healthcare facility.  Additionally, The Ministry of Health is discouraging travel to affected areas with reported sustained or ongoing community transmission of COVID-19 and related travel routes. I would like to remind people that it is the flu season so to expect that there will be people in the community with symptoms that are unrelated to COVID-19.

“All agencies are working together to provide the best information to the people of Bermuda and the highest level of preparedness for possible scenarios as a result of this global situation.”

 Travel advice is updated daily on the Government's website www.gov.bm/health-information.

 

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