This press conference will be the final regularly scheduled press conference attended by the Minister of Health and myself in this current format.
Following tonight, the COVID-19 updates will move to a technical briefing format, with public officers from Health and other relevant departments providing the public and their representatives in the media with the essential technical details regarding the coronavirus.
If there are major announcements and changes to policies to be made, they will be made by Ministers, but standard updates will be given by the technical officers in the future.
We should continue to be proud of our country’s response to this pandemic, in that we maintain one of the most sound and stringent testing regimes in the world, which allows us to be informed and aware of our status as a country every day, recently surpassing over 400,000 tests conducted. Testing capacity remains available, and I encourage persons to utilise it, get tested and know their coronavirus status.
It is welcomed news to hear that as a country, we now have 3/4 of our eligible population vaccinated. Vaccines remain available to anyone who wishes to get them, and as always, I encourage you to speak to your doctor so that you can make the best and safest decision for yourself.
Along with our testing regime and vaccinations, we must not abandon the basics which have helped to keep us safe from the beginning of the pandemic. I join the Minister in reminding everyone of the importance of hand-washing and sanitising, mask-wearing especially in groups where you are unsure of a person’s vaccinations status.
We must also continue to use technology to assist us. SafeKey is a valuable tool that will permit businesses to continue to operate while reducing the risk of coronavirus spread while indoors. I remind the public that you can receive a SafeKey through the receipt of a negative coronavirus test with the expiry date provide on your SafeKey.
Those who are fully vaccinated, and whose vaccine-based SafeKeys have expired or will expire on 15 August can renew their SafeKeys by going to: gov.bm/safekey and clicking on the link at the top of the page which says ‘click here to renew’.
In addition to SafeKey, I encourage the public to continue to use the WeHealth app to help our contact tracers, protect businesses and others.
While we have seen a recent increase of cases in our community, this does not mean that progress has stopped. A year ago, before we had the vaccine, these numbers may have meant strong restrictions, and left us with a feeling of having to start over.
However, our increased community protection due to 3/4 of the eligible population being vaccinated means that while we must remain cautious and protect those who are not eligible such as young children, we can also continue to allow economic and cultural activity to continue with precautions.
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