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Sunday, 5 April COVID-19 Update

Premier Alden McLaughlin at COVID-19 Press Briefing on 5 April.

Four more positive test results were announced today (Sunday, 5 April 2020) at the COVID 19 press conference, bringing the total number of positives in the Cayman Islands to 39.

The positive case reported yesterday in Cayman Brac is doing well and contacts have been isolated said Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr John Lee. Sharing the latest statistics at the press briefing the CMO repeatedly stressed the importance of social distancing as ‘the thing that can save your life’.

Describing the overnight hard curfew period as quiet Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Commissioner Derek Byrne also detailed curfew breaches on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

His Excellency the Governor Martyn Roper commented that today’s live address by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, only the fourth during her long reign to take place outside her regularly scheduled address to the nation, had emphasised the importance of hope in difficult times.

As an example the Governor pointed to the British Airways flight on Monday which is bringing home 60 Caymanians, and also allowing 130 persons to leave the Islands, who wish to do so. In addition, he reiterated that it would bring much needed test kits and personal protective equipment.

Meanwhile Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, said he himself had found hope in the low death rate of COVID-19 patients in Germany, a country whose prevention measures included social distancing just as Cayman has done. The goal is to limit numbers of people infected so that our health system will be able to manage those that need to be hospitalised.

Highlights

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported:

• Forty-six results received today.

• Sixteen were from the Government isolation facility and all tested negative.

• Of the 30 remaining tests, four were positive. All were contacts of past cases or had travel history.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:

• Nothing of significance to report overnight

• In Cayman Brac a pedestrian was warned for prosecution and on Grand Cayman four motorists and two pedestrians were found in breach. One of the motorists was arrested (see more below).

• The arrest resulted from a group of males riding five motorcycles on Shamrock Road, performing stunts towards the end of soft curfew on Saturday.

• The Police chopper and ground units were deployed.

• Driving by rogue motorcyclists ‘was absolutely reckless and endangered other roads users’ said Mr Byrne. One motorcyclist, a 23-year-old male, was caught and taken into custody for dangerously riding a motorcycle. Police are still looking for a suspect who fled the scene. All will be prosecuted under the traffic law and for breach of curfew.

• Given the questions around the handling of this arrest the Commissioner has referred the case to the Ombudsman for an independent investigation.

• During hard curfew daylight period today six motorists and six pedestrians found in breach. One motorist was arrested and the rest warned for prosecution.

• Commissioner flew over this morning to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to meet RCIPS team in Sister Islands. Found them ‘in good form’.

• Mr Byrne also visited Dr Velusamy, the Director of Faith Hospital. He toured emergency flu centre and ensured all in place for the RCIPS helicopter to assist with medevac.

• Offered clarification on exercise. Water related activities including diving, boating, snorkeling, parasailing are prohibited.

• Persons may enter the water only for the purposes of exercise and swimming may do so. No more than two should do so at the same time unless within the same household.

• Confirmed exercise should be between 6am-6pm and that persons may drive to point of exercise during their daily 90 minute period.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

• Observed Palm Sunday and expressed regret that Caymanians and residents will be unable to observe customary Easter traditions over the next week.

• Called for circumspect behaviour and sacrifice of creature comforts, even company of family and friends.

• During daily reading of international statistics, noted an extremely low death rate in Germany attributable to measures put in place to promote social distancing. Noted much of these had been adopted locally.

o Slowing the progress of the virus through the community avoids overwhelming healthcare system to the benefit of those people who do become sick.

• Urged people not to be complacent. The last four days have seen positive cases reported each day. While Public Health is tracing contacts, each contact has a contact, hence importance of staying home. Each encounter increases the risk of getting the virus. Staying home is the only certain way not to get the virus.

• Said debate was how to balance people’s desire to swim against stretched abilities of police to manage the curfew

• Restriction on fishing is because police lack resources to monitor water, given challenges faced in enforcing curfew on land. At the same time premier notes that line-fishing from shoreline or dock is permitted only during 90-minute period for exercise. Fishing is permitted from one’s own backyard can take place all day but there is to be no in-water activity.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

• Shared Queen’s address highlighting praise for first responders and emphasis on hope and unity, while still focusing on the importance of social distancing.

• UK Prime Minister is in hospital.

• During this time of crisis challenged Caymanians and residents to behave in a way that would allow them to look back on their actions with pride.

• Noted that despite fake news circulating overnight, his wife remains in the United Kingdom looking after her parents, and will not be returning on the British Airways air bridge.

• Instead BA flight bringing in much needed medical supplies including test kits and personal protective equipment. It is also allowing 130 people in the Cayman Islands to leave who wish to do so. Meanwhile 60 Caymanians are returning home, where they will engage in mandatory self-isolation at a Government facility.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:

• Noted Government took the preventive measures that it did following the prediction by Public Health England of a short but sharp outbreak of COVID-19 that would last 60 days.

For further information contact: Suzette Ebanks