Govt Statement: Schools, Quarantine, Covid

November 22, 2020 | 2 Comments

[Updating] There will be a statement from the Bermuda Government this evening [Nov 22] about the latest developments with Covid-19 in Bermuda, the Premier has just said.

Premier David Burt tweeted, “Many in Bermuda are concerned about possible clusters of Covid-19. Please rest assured that the @DoHBermuda team that has effectively managed the Pandemic is acting out of an abundance of caution to ensure that anyone who may have possibly been exposed is quarantined.

“Please note that “Quarantine” means there is a possibility that someone may have been exposed. This is a precaution so that if the quarantined person does eventually test positive they won’t transmit the virus to others. People who are Quarantined have not tested positive.

“Individuals who are “isolated” are those who have tested positive for Covid-19. 99% of persons who have been quarantined have not ended up testing positive for Covid. Again quarantine is only a precaution. The @DoHBermuda will issue instructions to persons based on risk.

“There will be a statement from the Bermuda Government this evening to update on the latest precautions taken to ensure that students & teachers in @BDApublicschool & other residents are fully informed. The @DoHBermuda has been working all weekend to ensure our collective safety.

“I ask all in Bermuda to trust the @DoHBermuda team who have worked hard for the last 9 months to keep this country safe. We have the testing capacity & the technology to contain any outbreak. We must all follow health rules to reduce any possible spread of the virus.”

A message and one letter have been widely circulating via email and WhatsApp, and Bernews asked the Government for comment a few hours ago and will update as able.

Update 8.55pm: Eleven minutes ago the Government posted on Facebook saying, “Good evening. The Government will issue statements and videos from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Education shortly. There will not be a press conference this evening. We apologize for any confusion. Once issued to all media, we will post the statements and videos on all social media.”

Update 9.44pm: The Government has not issued the statement yet, however the Premier tweeted again saying, “Just spoke to the Min. of Health. The Bermuda rumour mill is in full force. No school student [public or private] has tested positive for Covid-19. Bermuda is the 5th most tested country in the world & we have the testing capacity to contain any possible outbreak.”

Update 10.09pm: Government confirmed that “currently two potential COVID-19 outbreaks concerning work places are actively being assessed and managed based on established protocols.” and that the “Department of Health has directed principals that specific classes and staff have to quarantine at the following schools: St. George’s Prep – P2 Class and Specialist Teachers, Paget Primary – ASD Classes and Specialist Teachers, Creative Touch Nursery

Update 10.09pm: Minister of Health Kim Wilson’s full statement:

Good Evening Bermuda.

I can confirm that currently two potential COVID-19 outbreaks concerning work places are actively being assessed and managed based on established protocols.

Contact tracing is underway, and public health guidance has been provided. More details will be provided as they become available.

A lot of misinformation has been occupying social media all weekend concerning our school systems and recent cases.

Two of the recent cases have close contacts with children in our school system. Principals and staff of the schools have been informed and instructions provided consistent with Public Health Guidelines. Testing is also being arranged with these schools, as was the case with the Saltus Grammar School. Some 240 persons were tested over the weekend including students, parents, teachers.

Students in the said classes, as well as their teachers are required to quarantine for 14 days. Siblings of these children who are unable to live separately from their sibling being quarantined are also asked to quarantine. This is only if they are unable to quarantine, albeit living in the same household.

We are acting out of an abundance of caution. Please note that just because persons have been quarantined – this doesn’t mean they are carrying the virus. The person may have had a potential exposure to someone currently being assessed. This is a very important distinction. We are actively assessing the close contacts for symptoms and awaiting test results.

I have full confidence in our epidemiology and testing teams to evaluate the extent of any outbreak and ensure that it is contained. We are in control of the situation and are following a well laid out plan to combat any possible outbreak.

As Minister of Health, I want to reassure the public that an uptick in positive cases was expected as we see a surge or second wave in cases in countries such as the USA and UK. My team at the Ministry of Health has been working diligently all weekend, following a well laid out plan to combat any possible outbreak. Again, this includes contact tracing. If you have not been contacted by the team, please do not rely on rumor, or social media to determine next steps. If you are in fact a close contact, you will be contacted by Health.

In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to once again remind the public that the Ministry of Health will contact you only if you have been identified as a close contact and need further instructions to quarantine or get tested. Otherwise, I continue to urge everyone to wear their masks, wash their hands, avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings.

Also, please note that just because persons are quarantined, does not mean that they are carrying the coronavirus.

As a reminder, the difference between quarantine and isolation is as follows:

• Quarantine – Quarantine/self-quarantine is used to prevent the possible spread of a communicable disease. Quarantine and self-quarantine mean that a person with no symptoms must stay in their home or accommodation, and must stay two metres or six feet away from others.

• Isolation – Individuals are isolated when they have symptoms, including fever and cough. Isolated people must stay at home (or in hospital if critically ill) and can have limited contact with others.

To clarify, when a person is quarantined they don’t have the symptoms but are separated from others. When a person is isolated, they have symptoms and are kept away from others. Both of these public health measures are used to prevent the spread of an infectious disease.

Acting out of an abundance of caution, pre-emptive measures are being taken at the schools where close contacts have been identified.

To be clear, Ministry of Health guidelines for schools in this situation state that if you live in a home with a child that attends the same school as a close contact – and has a sibling – but the siblings can properly separate, they should do so. If not, they should quarantine.

I must also reiterate the established workplace guidance. Management should send home any employee who has any of the following new or worsening signs or symptoms of possible COVID-19:

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Chill

• Repeated shaking with chills

• Muscle pain

• Headache

• Sore throat

• Loss of taste or smell

• Diarrhea

• Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

• Known close contact with a person who has tested positive

There will be a COVID-19 Cabinet Subcommittee meeting tomorrow (Monday, November 23rd) to discuss the latest information and discuss further steps.

Minister of Education Diallo Rabain’s full statement:

Good evening Bermuda.

I will give you an update on the status of schools as there has been misinformation circulating in the community this weekend.

The Department of Health has directed principals that specific classes and staff have to quarantine at the following schools:

a. St. George’s Prep – P2 Class and Specialist Teachers

b. Paget Primary – ASD Classes and Specialist Teachers

c. Creative Touch Nursery

The Department of Health has contacted parents and advised that if the siblings of students in the classes just mentioned at St. George’s Prep, Paget Primary or Creative Touch Nursery cannot be kept separate from each other, then they too must quarantine.

Each household situation is different: some siblings may need to quarantine, some may not need to quarantined and can attend school as normal.

The following action are and will be taken for schools that have classes quarantining:

- Principals are placing calls to affected staff and parents of affected students;

- A Department of Health letter has been sent to affected teachers and the parents of students;

- There are Zoom meetings with staff;

- Principals sent letters to staff;

- Specialist staff and students have been asked to get a COVID-19 test;

- Specialists are working with the substitute teachers coming in and are preparing for a Tuesday start; and

- Zoom meetings with parents will be conducted.

We are also taking the following actions within the schools:

· Classrooms are to be deep cleaned and then inspected;

· Substitute staff will be hired to cover;

· The Commissioner of Education will contact the EAP Director to get support for school staff;

· A plan will be establish early this week by Student Services for addressing student concerns.

What will happen tomorrow?

1. Bermuda Public Schools will be open.

2. They will continue with their entry screening and safety and health protocols.

3. Staff and students must be diligent with following safety and health protocols.

We continue to partner with the Ministry of Health to ensure the safety and health of students, teachers and staff.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Practice physical distancing.

Thank you have and good evening.

Update 11.49pm: The Government did not issue video statements, however did post videos on their social media, and we have extracted them and added them above.

covid-19 divider 1

As the island and world deals with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are doing our best to provide timely and accurate information, and you can find more information on the links below.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Vortex says:

    Of course the rumor mill will be at its worst if you don’t tell us anything.

    We all know an IB company has been sent home and we all know which one. How about some transparency Burt!

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