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Thursday 19 March Update

The panel at Thursday's press conference comprised l-r: Police Commissioner Derek Byrne, Minister for Health Hon. Dwayne Seymour, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee and Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.

At the daily press conference today, Thursday, 19 March 2020, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee, announced that two cases have returned positive among 40 test results recently received.

So far, 65 cases from Health City Cayman and the Health Services Authority (HSA) have been tested, including one fatality.

The two positives have been forwarded to CARPHA for confirmation which is still pending. However, there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands.

Here are salient points from the press conference.

Accompanied by Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, Dr. Lee said the breakdown from the recent 40 test results is 29 test cases from the Health Services Authority (HSA) have tested negative and from Health City, nine cases were negative and two tested positive.

Sixty persons tested and their families remain in isolation, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said. The two positive cases resulted from contact with the one visitor treated at Health City, who passed away, he explained.

These persons, believed to be medical staff, and their families are in isolation and there is little to no risk of community spread and that it is contained adequately, Dr. Lee reiterated.

However, with no room for complacency, he advised all persons in the community to practise all Government measures put in place for persons in the community notably to wash hands with soap and water frequently, not touch their faces, maintain social distancing of 3 to 6 feet apart from others and adopt self-isolation as required, being very careful around older people.

Reiterating that there is no evidence of community spread, Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin cautioned that with it is almost inevitable that there would be others who could test positive for the virus in the future. With medical and social protocol prescribed in place, it is still possible the meltdown other countries in the world have been going through.

He emphasised the need for all returning residents, not only returning students but also all other returning adults to follow prescribed protocol and behave responsibility instead of going back to work or spend time with friends.

He noted that thousands would have travelled over the last 14 days and it is imperative for them to behave responsibly so as not to create real risks to the broader Cayman Islands community.

Regarding students, as at 1 pm today, 66 students returning through Sunday 22 March 2020 have confirmed their plans to use the dedicated isolation facility. Already today, 12 students had arrived and had been transported from the airport to the hotel for a 14-day self -isolation where they would receive free accommodation, free meals and WiFi, Premier McLaughlin said. More students are expected to avail themselves of the option in the coming days, he said.

Government has thus far reserved 100 rooms and 200 beds while negotiations remain underway should more be required.

Personnel are stationed at the airport to oversee the process and advise the returning students who are given house rules for residing in the facility. Also, there are monitors at the hotel to ensure students practise self-isolation, he added. For details and queries, the students could call 1-800-534-6555 and/or email NEOC.

Additionally, to isolate essential staff whose homes are impacted by returning travellers, a separate facility has been opened, the Premier announced. So far five persons have been approved to use this facility so as to ensure seamless delivery of services by the HSA, uniformed services and 911.

Also, on medical advice, isolation accommodations have been made available to all persons - students and all others - arriving on Grand Cayman on international flights who plan to continue to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. All these arriving international passengers are being given accommodations to self-isolate at a dedicated hotel on Grand Cayman, he announced.

The Premier added that Government strongly urges persons to self-isolate for the required period and not to continue through to the Sister Islands. There, he said, is a heightened concern given limited resources as well as the high percentage of elderly persons residing and the additional challenges for dealing with serious cases.

He urged them to do the responsible thing and stay on Grand Cayman for the self-isolation period or "another provision can be made which can provide similar assurance".

Emphasising there is no reason for major concerns about retransmission at the moment in the Cayman Islands, His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper nevertheless advised all to be individually responsible and follow prescribed health protocols.

Thanking the three member Public Health England team who helped in the setting up of Cayman's COVID 19 testing system at the HSA lab, the Governor reported the team's lauding of the robustness of the system now in place in the Cayman Islands, the only UK Overseas Territory to currently have such a facility.

He also urged people to avoid giving credence to fake news but to monitor only official channels for provision of accurate and up-to-date information. He noted that action to spread fake news is punishable by law.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne assured of robust systems in place through the RCIPS for the maintenance of law and order and added that there is no recent spike in crime currently. RCIPS officers would be paying close attention to possible domestic violence matters during this time of self-isolation, he said.


For further information contact: Bina Mani