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Friday, April 24, 2020

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC)— A multi-lane drive-through facility was due to open on Friday and continue through the weekend at Southside in St George's to begin testing all essential workers for COVID-19.

National Security Minister Wayne Caines said this would include the police, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Customs staff and prison officers.

Premier David Burt said large-scale testing is “a necessary prerequisite to opening our economy”.

A lockdown is in effect here until May 2.

So far, Bermuda has conducted just over 950 COVID-19 tests, with 99 proving positive for the virus. Five people have died, the last person being one of 31 positive cases at two of the island's homes for seniors.

Thursday's 61 test results all came back negative, a Ministry of Health spokeswoman said. The previous day's 17 tests included one positive result.

There are 55 active cases and 11 people in hospital, while 44 people are under public health monitoring and 39 people have recovered.

Earlier in the week, Burt praised Bermudian biochemist Carika Weldon and her team for achieving a “dramatic” increase in test capability for the virus.

He credited them for the more than 200 COVID-19 tests fast-tracked over the weekend at a new molecular diagnostics lab.

Burt admitted that “no one is more disappointed than I am when we have not been able to test as aggressively as I know we need to do”.

However, he said that it had been an uphill battle and asked the public to refrain from finger-pointing.

“We can fix what went wrong and move forward,” the Premier said.

Burt followed up his earlier comments by saying on his social media site on Thursday: “I saw some 'chatter' that Bermuda doesn't have an aggressive COVID-19 testing regime in place. As of Tuesday, we had the highest per capita testing rate in the Caribbean. There is work to do, and suggestions are welcome, but let's all be constructive as a country.”

A second British Airways charter flight is due to arrive in Bermuda on Friday from London's Heathrow Airport, bringing more stranded residents home, but no numbers have so far been released.

Also on board are expected to be 10,000 COVID-19 test kits, part of a 35,000 order Bermuda placed with the Cayman Islands, but it remains unclear when the remaining 25,000 kits will arrive on the island.

A British Airways charter earlier this month brought back 129 residents from the UK before going on to the Caymans. Friday's flight will return to London on Saturday.?p>

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