Dr. John Lee: Bermuda’s spike in COVID cases ‘really worrying’

Royal Gazette: highest number of cases since records began.

Bermuda MoH 29 March
Bermuda reported 108 positive COVID-19 cases on Monday. The total number of active cases in the territory stands at 417 at 30 March. Source: Ministry of Health, Bermuda

According to Bermuda’s Ministry of Health, the territory reported triple-digit positive COVID-19 cases on Monday, comprising 108 positives over two days.

Bermuda’s Royal Gazette says this represents the highest total number of cases recorded in a single day “since records began a year ago”.

Dr John Lee COIVD presser February 2021
Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee. – Photo: GIS

Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee told the Compass the situation in Bermuda is “really worrying”.

He added, “[O]ur thoughts are with those that are unwell and those caring for them.”

Lee continued, “Unfortunately, when case numbers of COVID-19 start to rise, after a couple of weeks that’s when the [hospital] admissions start to increase as well. Some of the new variants of COVID are even more infectious and difficult to contain with the measures we have learned.”

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He implored those in Cayman to “please take the vaccine as a way of reducing both your risk and our community’s risk of serious illness”.

Bermuda’s spike in cases

In its COVID-19 update on Monday, Bermuda’s government said the 108 positive results came from a batch of 3,038 tests.

Unlike in Cayman, the Bermuda Ministry of Health provides specific details on the origin of positive cases. Bermuda flagged one case as “imported”, from a resident who arrived 26 March from New York and tested positive on arrival.

Out of the 108 positives, 35 were categorised as local transmission, meaning those people  have been traced back to existing cases in the territory.

Bermuda’s Ministry of Health stated the remaining 72 positive cases were “under investigation”. These cases have been detected in residents with “no currently identified link to other known cases or history of travel in the past 14 days”.

As of 30 March, Bermuda has 417 active cases of COVID-19, with 1157 total cases recorded in the territory to date. At the same point in Cayman, 25 active cases were reported, with a total of 500 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. All of Cayman’s current active cases are confined to arriving travellers, in isolation.

According to the classification status used by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 transmission in Bermuda is defined as “sporadic cases”. This is the same classification as Cayman.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, place Bermuda into level 2 (moderate) and Cayman into level 1 (low). The CDC advises people to avoid non-essential travel to Bermuda.

Vaccination rates

Like in Cayman, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to be vaccinated in Bermuda.

According to Premier David Burt’s update on Tuesday, 42.5% of Bermuda’s over-16s have received at least one dose of vaccine, which equates to 35% of the total population. At the same time in Cayman, 46% of the estimated total population has received at least one dose of the same vaccine.

24% of Bermuda’s total population have received two doses, compared with 29% who have completed the two-dose course in Cayman.

The two British Overseas Territories have approximately the same population size.

Quarantine requirements: vaccinated passengers

Quarantine requirements for travel to Bermuda differ from the regulations for those arriving in Cayman, although both territories now have rules for passengers who have completed a full vaccination course and those who have not been inoculated.

Both territories require pre-travel authorisation and a negative PCR test prior to arrival.

However, in Bermuda, vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-arrival PCR test are only required to quarantine until they receive a negative result from their arrival PCR test. In Cayman, such arrivals are required to quarantine until they receive a negative PCR test on day 11, after isolating for 10 days.

Residents arriving in Bermuda without a negative pre-arrival PCR test are required to quarantine until they test negative on day four. They can leave quarantine at this point, but must get tested on days eight and 14.

All travellers to Cayman – both resident and visitor – are not permitted to travel without a valid negative PCR test result registered no more than 72 hours prior to departure.

Quarantine requirements: non-vaccinated passengers

In Cayman, the rules for non-vaccinated travellers necessitate an application for travel authorisation by Travel Cayman; a negative PCR test prior to travel; a negative test upon arrival and a full 14-day quarantine, with a negative PCR test required on day 15 to leave the designated isolation facility.

In Bermuda, the government requires visitors receive travel authorisation and proof of a negative PCR test prior to arrival.

Residents are permitted to travel without a negative, pre-arrival test but must quarantine until a test on day eight.

All non-vaccinated residents and visitors to Bermuda are required to wear a traveller wristband for the first 14 days of their stay, but are not required to quarantine, provided they test negative prior to travel and on arrival. They must submit for testing on day eight and day 14.

Any person arriving from the UK or who has visited the UK in the two weeks prior to their arrival in Bermuda must quarantine for four days and return a negative test before they can leave quarantine.

Cayman does not prescribe different quarantine rules based on where a traveller has come from.

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  1. Once again Cayman government seems to want to spread “FEAR” because Bermuda has seen a spike, based on current trajectory it seems like the current government would just love to say we will stay isolated forever and lock ourselves away. Some times you need to look at the bigger picture, but doesn’t appear anyone in government can do that.