Monday, 27 April 2020 Update
Starting the week on an optimistic note, Cayman Islands leaders welcomed the "no positive" results announced today and noted that if similar results continue during the rest of this week, limited easing of the Shelter in Place provisions are possible in the near future.
At today's press conference (Monday, 27 April 2020), prayers were led by Pastor D.A. Clarke of the Pastors Association.
Cayman's leaders expect that with increased testing to gauge the spread of the disease in the community, all going well they would be able to take decisions in short order to relax some of the strict restrictions placed on the Cayman Islands community to combat COVID-19.
Government's emphasis continues to be elimination of community transmissions and the success here will guide decisions on relaxing of the shelter in place restrictions.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:
- No positive results and 208 negative results were reported today.
- The total positives remain at 70 which include 22 asymptomatic cases, five hospital admissions - three at Health Services Authority and two at Health City Cayman Islands, with none on ventilators and 10 fully recovered.
- A total of 1148 persons have been tested, including some screening samples.
- A different approach can be adopted for the Sister Islands which have been in isolation with one positive case and where testing will be completed this week. Government may be able to relax restrictions on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac earlier than on Grand Cayman, if there is no evidence of COVID-19 on the Sister Islands.
- Masks are valuable in prevention of COVID-19 when used in conjunction with other required protocol including washing hands and practising social distancing.
- He requested persons to wear masks, if they can get hold of one, when moving about in public places.
- While there is no current target for the number of tests to be conducted by the labs at Health Services Authority (HSA) and Doctors Hospital, they have the potential to do 1,000 a week.
Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- Premier hailed as "very good news" the 208 negative results received today but cautioned that "we cannot be carried away" by this information.
- There are 500-600 samples in the testing process and if those revealed no positive results along with continued larger scale testing, there is reason to hope that the Cayman Islands do not have broad community transmission.
- While individual positives are expected to crop up in results from broader testing, Cayman Islands will continue to work on elimination of the disease, as opposed to eradication, similar to New Zealand's approach to the crisis.
- Individual cases can be swiftly identified, then isolated and healthcare provided quickly to those in need so that there is no community transmission from further positives.
- Globally, those who reopened too quickly have had to reinstate restrictive measures such as curfews. "We are determined not to let that happen here - and lose the gains from the past month of sacrifices."
- Government has a plan to reopen which will be discussed and reviewed in Caucus and then Cabinet to help determine the steps in loosening the restrictions.
- If Little Cayman's borders are kept closed and there is no case found there, the island can be declared COVID-19 free. Likewise, on Cayman Brac, though larger in population, it would be reasonably possible to reduce the risk of community spread.
- On Grand Cayman, it is going to take longer. With shelter in place restrictions to expire on Friday, 1 May, if test results during the rest of the week are as encouraging as today's, Government can make changes to the shelter in place restrictions now in place. An analysis is underway to determine which areas of activity and which groups in the community pose the least risk for major community transfer.
- The postal service is reopening on a limited basis from Wednesday, 29 April, including opening of one post office location on each of the three islands as well as sorting of all mail received and delivery to individual post boxes in post offices.
- It seems likely that the tourism industry will be closed for the rest of this year.
- Regarding pensions payments, Premier McLaughlin said the law is set to come into effect in short order. Recipients, if approved, can expect to get their payments within 45 days of making their applications. Following applications made to pension providers by individuals seeing payments from their pension contributions , he said providers have to acknowledge receipt of the applications within seven days, decide on the application in 14 days after that and provide payments if approved, all within 45 days in total.
- One of the first to be allowed to reopen, when restrictions are eased, would be pool cleaning companies.
- Beach use restrictions are likely to continue in the immediate future.
- He thanked Fosters for donating mobile phones to seniors in residential care so that they can contact their families.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- Early next week, a flight will depart to La Ceiba, Honduras.
- He encouraged Caymanians in the Bay Islands who might wish to return to the Cayman Islands via the return La Ceiba flight but cannot reach La Ceiba to contact Emergency Travel so that his office will have an idea of numbers and could dialogue with Honduran authorities.
- Those travelling to La Ceiba should carry with them a doctor-provided certificate that they are COVID-19 free to be allowed to land in Honduras by that country's authorities.
- Further such flights, if there is a demand, could be attempted again. His office could help with diplomatic requirements to facilitate.
- A small number of Caymanians and PR holders will arrive via the return flight from Honduras and they will go into the mandatory 14-day isolation at a government run facility.
- A flight to Mexico is now scheduled for Friday, 1 May for Mexicans preapproved by the Mexican Government and Cayman Airways would contact them directly.
- The BA airbridge flight Tuesday is now full. A number of those waiting to leave, including 40 Filipinos, will be leaving on the flight.
- The flights to Miami, on 1 May, are also full.
- A private charter to Canada which will allow for pets to travel is being organised by a private individual at a cost of 1,300 Canadian dollars each ticket. Details will be provided on the Governor's social media posts.
- Flights to Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are expected to be announced for next week.
- He thanked the Honorary Consuls, as well as all at Cayman Airways and the Airports Authority for their work in this regard.
- Private sector organised funds which are expected to be announced might help those in need of financial assistance for accessing flights.
- If there is further demand, further flights will be pursued. He encouraged all to use the online form to provide their details rather than on the phone.
- He encouraged those wishing to leave in the coming days to email email@example.com to ensure the Governor's Office is fully aware of the demand for future flights.
Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
- Minister gave a shout out to Dart Organisation for all their work during this time.
- He announced a second Blood Bank now available at the Red Cross HQ on Huldah Avenue, which received its first donations last week. The facility is open on Thursdays from 10 am to 3 pm. For appointments to donate blood, contact www.bloodbank.ky or call 244-2674. The primary Blood Bank unit is at the HSA. Those who have been sick recently cannot donate for two weeks.
- He thanked Davenport Development for donating 7,000 masks for HSA.
- He lauded the Second Chances programme that helps offenders to reintegrate into society and noted that two from the programme have been successfully integrated into the Department of Environmental Health staff and they are working well in their jobs.
- He underscored DEH requirements to dispose of COVID 19 protection paraphernalia notably masks and gloves properly.
- He also shouted out to children and students doing school work and helping their parents at home.
For further information contact: Bina Mani