Monday, 13 April Update
Cayman's leaders issued a strong message to all in the Cayman Islands that if people do not follow safe distancing, there will be potential deaths here from COVID -19. So the fervent plea is for all to be unselfish and to follow established protocols.
At the press conference on Monday, 13 April 2020 to update on COVID-19, which started off with prayer led by Pastor Winston Rose, the leaders noted that existing curfews are likely to continue beyond 5 am Friday, 17 April when the hard and soft curfews are slated to expire. If conditions worsen, the measures could get stricter.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported:
- One positive case out of the 44 latest results puts the total number of positives to 54 now. This positive person has a travel history.
- With 43 negatives now out of the 44 latest results received, the total number of negatives is 526.
- Of the total, six have recovered, 16 are symptomatic, 20 are asymptomatic, six have clinically recovered (requiring more testing to be declared fully recovered). On Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, there is no change with one positive and 26 negatives.
- One positive person in breach of instructions given by authorities to isolate at a George Town apartment complex has now moved to a government mandatory isolation facility.
- As a result of this, the entire apartment complex is under lockdown and Public Health authorities are now conducting risk assessment on all the persons there and those who might have come in contact with the positive person.
- Two persons returned to Cayman by an air ambulance that had arrived to take a patient for a different emergency. The two persons are in isolation in a government mandatory isolation facility.
- If COVID-19 spreads by persons staying too close to one another, there will be more people sick and potential deaths. So it is in the hands of all to control the community spread of the disease. Follow all requirements such as washing hands, not touching faces and eyes, stay six feet apart in public and better still, stay home, as much as possible.
- If persons in isolation need support such as supplies, Government will support them through this process.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriquez said:
- The influenza clinic continues to receive an average of 75 calls daily and the number of visits to the 'flu clinic was 42 over the last five days.
- The healthcare clinics for non-COVID patients at the Health Services Authority continue to work normally five days a week. Only the evening sessions are not operating now to comply with hard curfew requirements.
- The HSA has received four ventilators and four more are on the way.
- Anyone in hospital who needed testing has been tested.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:
- Out of 46 interceptions over the Easter Sunday hard curfew, 45 were on Grand Cayman and one on Cayman Brac. These persons were walking, exercising or driving vehicles. All have been warned for prosecution for breach of curfew.
- Overnight, Little Cayman had no issues over hard curfew; Cayman Brac had 15 vehicle interceptions but none in breach; Grand Cayman had 104 vehicle interceptions but none in breach of curfew; also one pedestrian and one pedal cyclist were stopped for breach of curfew and warned for prosecution.
- This morning, during soft curfew, all was working well at supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for last names A-K. Food delivery is allowed today from 12 noon to 6 pm. Exercise, except on public beaches, is allowed from 6 am to 6 pm. No issues were seen on public beaches this morning.
- This morning, during soft curfew, 17 motorists were found to be in breach of soft curfew for reasons such as out to get cigarettes or visiting friends. For the first time, Police issued 17 tickets to these persons.
- Access to public beaches across the Cayman Islands is now strictly curtailed for any activity including walking, exercising, swimming, snorkeling, or engaging in any type of marine activity. Public beach means the portion of the beach that ends at the high watermark, referred to as soft sand.
- Breach of hard curfew is a criminal offence attracting penalties of $3,000 in fines or one year imprisonment or both.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- Cayman Islands Government has a plan to tackle the current crisis and the plan is to suppress COVID-19 and ultimately eliminate it from community transfer within the Cayman Islands, thereby preventing any deaths among the people.
- While Government is entirely mindful of the negative economic impact of the COVID- 19 response, the measures in place are entirely necessary to prevent deaths from the virus, which is the primary goal to all actions so far.
- Despite criticism from some that concerns for the elderly and vulnerable should not dictate response to the spread of the virus, Government will not put any lives in jeopardy.
- Government is watching other countries' approach in easing restrictions.
- Cayman is smaller and it will be very difficult to lift curfews in some districts since the danger of contact across the islands is higher.
- The only practical way to restart normal activity is if the Islands can stamp out the virus in Cayman.
- Next week, testing of frontline personnel and "just about anybody who we think or they think, need or warrant being tested will begin."
- The Government and the RCIPS is sorry to close public beaches but the actions of some have made it difficult to keep them open and still be able to curtail the possible ravages of the virus across the islands.
- Without the measures in place, deaths from COVID-19 are a far greater likelihood.
- overnment is determined and resolute to prevent the virus to spread freely among the community. "We cannot die from a thousand cuts because the virus just slowly creeps through the community."
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- Endorsing the Premier's strong message, the Governor urged all to remember practising all the measures put in place, including looking after the elderly and vulnerable in the community.
- The matter at the apartment complex in George Town was thankfully caught early and steps are being taken to curtail the spread.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:
- Minister gave a shout out to the staff at Department of Environmental Health.
- The HSA clinical management team is prepared for providing from primary care through to intensive care and ventilator support.
(For the full remarks by Minister Seymour, see sidebar.)
Sidebar: Minister Seymour Outlines Clinical Management Preparations
"Today, I would like to give you an update on the work that was presented to His Excellency the Governor, Honourable Premier, Honourable Minister Hew, the Deputy Governor and myself on Thursday, 9 April 2020.
Three groups of professionals were charged with reporting on the areas of clinical management of patients with COVID-19, the testing protocols we will be moving to and developing the testing capacity for COVID-19 across our islands.
We were very pleased to have these reports and to see the excellent joint working that is happening across both the private and public sectors and through primary care to the highly technical competencies of the critical care units.
The Cayman Islands are blessed with the breadth and depth of facilities and professional experience it can draw on, right up to the ability for Health City Cayman Islands to provide ECMO, which is extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and which provides essential oxygen to the blood whilst giving the lungs a chance to heal when they are most challenged.
The clinical management group presented their plans to look after patients with COVID-19 from primary care through to those that might need intensive care and ventilator support.
They talked about how patients would 'flow' through the system; how beds would be used across the Islands, and how overflow facilities might assist which are being developed in the John Gray High School gym, Jasmine Hospice, the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac and others.
They have also been sharing the latest scientific knowledge about treatment protocols for the best management and care of our citizens.
The testing groups have been talking through the challenges of increasing testing capacity. This is not as simple as it might first seem because there are a lot of steps involved in testing for COVID-19.
The swab needs to be taken, the sample needs to be processed, the RNA (which is the genetic material of any virus) needs to be extracted and finally the p-c-r machine needs to be operated to look for evidence of viral particles.
There are specialist people and supplies needed for each step. this group has been working to maximise the output of the testing facilities by combining the strengths of the three hospital laboratories.
Finally, a last group has been working on changing our testing protocols to widen the groups we will test.
However, I can confirm that we will be testing a number of frontline groups, such as certain hospital workers, alongside the inpatients in the hospitals and a wider category of people who present with any respiratory symptoms.
I would like to thank the professional groups for their diligence and, in particular, the collaborative work they continue to do in the Country's fight against this COVID-19 threat.
I also wanted to take a moment to address my hardworking staff at the Department of Environmental Health.
As you may well have guessed, there is a heightened level of concern in the collection of all waste, and in an effort to ensure the privacy of those who are ill with the coronavirus, the D-E-H sanitation teams are following best practices while working under the guidance of the Public Health department, at the Health Services Authority.
Therefore, they are handling all garbage as if it is suspect to COVID-19 contamination - to ensure additional safety at all times.
As Minister for Health is it is my responsibility to ensure all our essential workers are being cared for and are kept safe. I am pleased to say that our D-E-H teams have been supplied with the necessary tools like hand sanitizers and the relevant personal protective equipment (p-p-e) such as gloves and masks, to ensure their safety.
Additionally, the D-E-H is currently looking at ways to install onsite laundry services for its workers.
If we keep them safe, we in turn keep you safe.
In saying that, I remind you that we must all do our part in keeping our families and neighbours safe.
We can do this by ensuring that garbage is disposed of correctly, and I am asking the public to follow the proper garbage disposal guidelines, as outlined by the D-E-H.
These guidelines can be found online at www.gov.ky/coronavirus; simply do a search for the words "garbage disposal".
There are also specific guidelines for the disposal of trash of suspect COVID-19 patients, which can also be found on the website www.gov.ky/coronavirus.
I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to view these guidelines.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all our sanitation workers and every essential worker at the D-E-H. We appreciate what you do, and we thank you for the extra effort put in, to ensure that our communities are kept safe.
Finally, to the general public, please stay home to save lives and remember that staying home is Caymankind.
God bless you all."
For further information contact: Bina Mani