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31 March COVID Update

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin provides updates at the COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday, 31 March 2020.

Cayman Islands' leaders emphasised that with today's confirmation of community transfer of the virus, following the protocols Government has in place is vital to keep down the spread within the Cayman Islands community.

The press conference opened with prayer led by Pastor Alson Ebanks.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee said:

  • Out of 13 results to report, 11 tested negative and two have tested positive, neither of whom had a travel history.
  • All should accept that COVID-19 is in the community.
  • Protocols of social distancing, keeping hands clean by washing with soap and water frequently and staying home, to minimise the spread of the virus, must to be followed stringently.
  • So far of the 220 tested, 205 have tested negative and 14 positive with one inconclusive test result still awaited.
  • Too many cars are still seen on roads; people need to stay home.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:

  • With no significant issues and crime stable, the Cayman Islands was generally in full compliance with the hard curfew.
  • Overnight, there was no issues reported on Little Cayman; on Cayman Brac, there were six interceptions by Police but no breaches of curfew; on Grand Cayman, there were 154 interceptions, but only five were found in breach - all of them were warned for prosecution for breach of curfew provisions. Two of these were also found to be driving under the influence and will face additional charges.
  • During the soft curfew today, business at supermarkets, pharmacies and banks was brisk but orderly. A small number were witnessed walking on the beaches but maintaining social distancing.
  • He reiterated that the soft curfew does not allow any marine activity.
  • Following today's confirmation of community transfer of the coronavirus, Police would step up their vigilance in patrolling further, including more enforcement.
  • The penalties for clear breach of the soft curfew are $1,000 in fines or six months imprisonment.
  • Hard curfew breaches attract penalties of $ 3,000 in fines or one year imprisonment or both.
  • Trucks caught speeding would be monitored and warned; there is no exemption for speeding.

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • World statistics continue to cause alarm. In the US, the total number of cases had reached 174,834, up 11,046 since overnight; with 3,408 deaths, up 267 overnight; Italy has a total of 105,792 cases, up 4,053 overnight; deaths - 12,428, up 837 overnight; Spain total 94,417, up 6,461 overnight; deaths - 8,269, up 553 overnight; China - 81,518 cases, only 79 cases overnight, deaths - 3,305, up five overnight; UK - total 25,150 cases, up 3,009 overnight; 1,789 deaths, 381 overnight; New York State - the epicentre of most COVID-19 transmissions in the US, total cases - 75,795 cases, up 8,470 overnight; deaths - 1,550, up 208 overnight. The picture remains grim and becoming more troubling.
  • Government's purpose in establishing the air bridge from UK to Cayman Islands was to bring testing supplies and other vitally needed equipment to Cayman. It would also allow people in Cayman who wish to return given the situation now in the Islands a chance to leave these shores, which in turn would allow Government to better manage the crisis here.
  • It would be very difficult to tell Caymanian students and those who have the right to live in the Cayman Islands that they would not be allowed in.
  • Nevertheless, everyone arriving by the BA flight will be subject to mandatory isolation in a place other than their home and under strict monitoring by Government for 14 days. There would be no exceptions.
  • There were no reports of the students already in government-provided isolation exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or testing positive.
  • Given the community transmission, now there is far greater risk of someone in the community getting the virus from going to the supermarket or the banks or other public places, than from the returning passengers.
  • Following the protocols - such as social distancing, not touching one's face and frequent hand washing - is vital to keeping the disease from spreading further.
  • Your health is in your hands. Stay home Cayman and stay safe.
  • The Premier also outlined Government's financial support to vulnerable Caymanians in need that has been provided so far and that there have been 81 new applications. (See sidebar below for details.)

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • With two new cases yesterday and two more today, the safest place to be is the home.
  • This underlines that all have to limit human contact and make extra effort to protect the elderly and vulnerable in the community.
  • Reiterating that returnees on the BA flight will be move to mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Grand Cayman, the Governor said the UK has spent 75 million to chartering aircraft to bring people to the UK.
  • The flight will arrive next week Monday or Tuesday in Grand Cayman with one stop in Bermuda and return to London stopping in the Bahamas to pick up some returning to UK from there.
  • He lauded those manning helplines as well as the CI Crisis Centre for keeping its shelter open for domestic violence victims.

Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour:

  • He detailed HSA strategies in place to combat the virus spread.

Sidebar: Government Provides Support for Vulnerable Caymanians in Need

The Premier outlined that Government through the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) had provided an additional stipend on 27 March to permanent financial aid (PFA) recipient, seamen and veterans in the amount of $425. Also, support for Non-Caymanians in need is being provided as a one off payment.

Details are:

  • Approval extended to existing/known NAU clients for 3-6 months;
  • 1,653 families have been provided with services consisting of Food Vouchers, Rent , Utilities, PFA;
  • Of families served 60% are elderly, where priority is being giving;
  • 81 New applications received and is being processed;
  • Staff are rotated in office and also is working remotely to accommodate client needs;
  • Contact info: Email: NAU Phone #: 946-0024 Grand / 9488758 Brac, website www.nau.gov.ky.

DCFS:

  • Some of DCFS staff have been redeployed to work with quarantined students.

  • Residential facilities for seniors and disabled, both in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac continue to operate at 100% to ensure the needs of our residents are met.

  • MASH services continue to be in operation to ensure all child safeguarding issues are addressed.

  • Staff are in regular contact with:
    1. children in care/foster placements,
    2. families and
    3. seniors in the community.

  • Assistance is extended to seniors with refills for prescription medication.
  • Distribution of COVID-19 flyers to elderly.
  • DCFS staff continues to coordinate with other entities
    1. Collaborating with voluntary organisations, businesses, private individuals and community partners who are donating meals and food and hygiene supplies.
    2. Collaborating with pastors to encourage congregations to conduct check in on elderly in their respective communities.
    3. Collaborating with Neighborhood Watch associations to do checks on their elderly neighbours.

    • Is in the process of developing a Hotline for Elderly persons to address their specific needs and concerns.

    • Emergencies should still be reported to 911.

    General enquiries and information for non-emergency related issues between 8:30 am - 5:00 pm: Phone: 345-916-2837 / 345-926-6853; Email: DCFS.

    Additional Support to Non-Caymanians in need:

    • One- off Food Vouchers ($150) will be available for Work Permit Holders in immediate need.
    • Effective 1 April 2020 applications will be accepted for review and consideration.
    • Vouchers will provide interim support over a two-week period to those who qualify until the airport reopens and/or they can resume their jobs.
    • Applications can be downloaded at www.mcays.gov.ky. Alternatively forms can be collected from various supermarkets and gas stations in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
    • Completed forms should be emailed to CIGCOVIDSupport@gov.ky or left in the drop box outside the Customs and Border Control Offices (formerly the CI Immigration Headquarters) on Elgin Avenue.
    • Contact number is 244-8000 Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm.
    • Employers are still encouraged to assist employees.

    GIS

    For further information contact: Bina Mani