(ROYAL GAZETTE) – A total of 23 Covid-19 cases linked to a seniors home were announced last night.
The infections at the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire accounted for all but one of the 24 positive results from 80 test results revealed by Kim Wilson, the health minister.
However, Ms Wilson declined to comment on how many of the cases were residents and how many were staff on privacy grounds.
A 66-year-old resident from the home died from the illness on Sunday, a week after he first showed symptoms, which brought the island’s death toll from the disease to five.
Ms Wilson said the number of cases at the Matilda Smith Williams home was “disheartening news”.
She added a member of staff at another home, which has not been identified, had picked up the coronavirus from a contact “not related to the home”.
Ms Wilson said the island had recorded 81 Covid-19 cases altogether and that 33 people had recovered.
Nine people aged between 67 and 82 are still being treated in hospital. Ms Wilson said the Government’s goal was to test 500 people a week, which could be reached “by the end of next week, given the estimated arrival of further supplies”.
David Burt, the Premier, said a shipment of sampling swabs for use in testing had arrived on island. He said that if they passed inspection, they would “certainly help add to our ability”.
Mr Burt added the House of Assembly and Senate would meet on Friday to vote on the two-week extension to May 2 of the state-of-emergency shelter-in-place regulations.
The Premier admitted the restrictions were hard on the public and had caused economic problems. But he vowed: “We are not going to rush it in the name of the economy.”
He highlighted that if the regulations were relaxed too soon “we might as well have not done it at all”. Mr Burt added that exemptions for essential workers would be extended without new applications.
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, revealed that $12 million had gone to the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation to support small and medium-sized businesses.
He said the money came from a mix of budget reallocations and loans taken out by the Government. Mr Dickinson added about $8 million in unemployment benefits had so far been paid out to more than 5,000 people — about 15 per cent of the workforce.
He said the emergency benefits, at first scheduled to continue for 12 weeks, might have to be extended if the crisis continued beyond that.
The Bermuda Day celebrations were also announced as one of the casualties of the pandemic yesterday. Mr Burt said the decision was made out of “an abundance of caution to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of everyone on the island”.
He renewed an appeal for doctors and nurses to volunteer at the Government’s 24-hour temporary shelter and asked any medical professionals who could help to call 707-2223.
Mr Burt said that there had been an “incident” at a government quarantine centre, where someone in isolation was arrested after the individual was alleged to have been caught with drugs.
He added there were “suggested modifications” to the island’s lockdown rules and that Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, was expected to give details today.