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First Samples Sent for Testing

The Public Health Department is sending five samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to be tested for the coronavirus, (COVID-19) for a number of people who are feeling unwell and have recently travelled to countries who are experiencing an outbreak. They remain isolated at home, except for one visitor who is an inpatient at Health City Cayman Islands.

The citizens are being monitored by Public Health officials. The inpatient at Health City Cayman Islands is a visitor who was admitted for a cardiac-event, but has subsequently developed respiratory symptoms typical with cardiac recovery however out of an abundance of caution is being isolated as a result.

Sample tests will be sent to CARPHA today (Monday, 9 March 2020), which is the agreed schedule for sending infectious material by courier between the Health Services Authority and the CARPHA laboratory. The results are expected within six days.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez assures the public that people affected are in self-isolation at home, with one in isolation at Health City. As such, these cases are being actively monitored by health care professionals and pose no existing risk of onward transmission. The Public Health Department is in daily contact with all persons who have agreed to comply with best procedures for self-isolation while they wait for the results from CARPHA.

Noting that around the globe in countries with reported cases, the number of negative test results is exponentially higher than positive results. Dr Williams observes that in the United Kingdom as of 6 March 2020, more than 20,000 people have been tested but only 163 have been confirmed positive.

At the same time he says it is essential that Caymanians, residents and visitors continue to practice preventive hygiene.

Recommended measures include:

• Regularly washing hands with soap and water (and using alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water is not available),

• Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue if available, or flexed elbow as necessary, and

• Maintaining social distance; that is three to six feet of distancing between two persons.

“These things may seem insignificant but they have been proven to prevent infection”, Dr Williams remarks. “A simple way to remember your personal responsibility in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 is to “Catch ‘em. Trash‘em. Contain ‘em.”

For more information about minimising their risk, persons should visit www.hsa.ky/coronavirus. (For mobile www.hsa.ky/public-health/coronavirus).

Given the global spread of the coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee urges members of the public with flu-like symptoms who feel there is a risk they may have the disease, to contact the HSA at flu@hsa.ky or via the flu hotline 1-800-534-8600.

For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks