As Bermuda prepares to return to competitive local sports, the Minister of Youth, Culture, and Sport, Dr. Ernest Peets, visited one of the COVID-19 sports testing centers on Thursday at the St. George’s Cricket Club to assess the progress.
“The public will be aware that the Ministry created the Return to Play Guidance for Sports, which is a step by step document that outlines the process for the resumption of sports in Bermuda.
“One of the requirements for the resumption of contact sports is for athletes to take a saliva test. This is required to participate in Stage 3 and Stage 4 activities of the Return to Play Guidance.
“Contact sports are currently in Stage 3 and are being progressed to Stage 4 on the basis of test take-up.
“One sport with 95% of members tested has been moved to Stage 4. Only athletes who confirm that they have a negative test result are able to participate in Stage 3 or 4 activities. This should be monitored by the clubs alongside their regular COVID-19 checks.”
Minister Peets said, “Contact sports bring a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, therefore the Government requires adults wishing to participate in Stage 3 and 4 sports (contact sports training and competitive play) to undertake a saliva COVID-19 test and repeat every 28 – 30 days.
“I want to emphasis that for health and safety reasons if an athlete does not comply with the testing requirements, then participation in the competitive sports will not be possible.”
The Minister continued, “Additionally young persons and children aged 11 to 17 who participate in contact sports are strongly recommended to be tested. Individual clubs and NSGBs may determine whether to require it. Children aged 10 and younger can be encouraged to test also.”
“As someone who engages in competitive sports, I also participated in the required testing. The saliva test is non-invasive and easy to self-administer. There are no health risks associated with the test, and it is provided free of charge by the Government of Bermuda.
“Athletes must register to take the test so their kit can be prepared and they can receive their test results. A video link and written instructions will be provided to demonstrate how to use the kit.
“Once registered, communication on how and when each sport will test will be provided through collaboration between the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, the National Sports Governing Bodies and clubs/teams.
“However, sufficient registration is required in order to book a testing date. So athletes are encouraged to register at the earliest opportunity so a test date can be set up.”
Minister Peets concluded, “The Ministry wishes to assure the public that the test results are fully confidential. Only the patient, the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, and the Ministry of Health authorized officers will know the results. In the event of a positive test result, the patient’s physician will also be informed.
“If a sample is positive, the patient’s physician or the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit will be in touch with the patient to communicate the result and provide guidance on isolation, management, and testing.
“Again, in order for us to successfully resume contact sports in Bermuda, the Ministry encourages all athletes and the parents or guardians of young athletes to be familiar with the Return to Sports Guidance and the testing recommendations and requirements.”
The Minister ended by saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of Bermudian life – sporting, cultural and entertainment events have been likewise severely impacted.
“Bermuda has come a very long way in controlling COVID-19 to save lives and minimize the impact on our economy and quality of life. We are grateful to the public and the sporting sector for their patience, collaboration, and willingness to do the right thing for sports and for the country.”