Tuesday 14 April Update
Cayman Islands leaders reiterated that stemming the spread of COVID-19 within the wider local community is "absolutely achievable", given the small size of the local population of some 65,000 and the proactive approach taken to shut borders and early implementation of social distancing protocols.
However, strict compliance with all the measures put in place is paramount to achieving success in beating the virus. Opening the borders or relaxing of the strict measures adopted could be disastrous if timing is too early. Government is taking a wait and watch approach with the restarting efforts being considered and promoted in other hard-hit countries such as Spain.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:
- With no further results, the total tested remains at 580, with 54 positives and 526 negatives, six fully recovered and one death of the first patient, an Italian tourist off a cruise ship.
- 16 are symptomatic, six have clinically recovered, 28 remain asymptomatic, and one on Cayman Brac who has symptoms.
- The five admitted to hospital are either stable or doing well. At the Health Services Authority (HSA), one person is on a ventilator, one is in stable condition and a third patient is a lot better. At Health City, two persons admitted for other reasons but happen to be COVID-19 positive are also stable.
- Regarding the containment area at an apartment complex in George Town, 40 samples have been taken from the 26 single or small family units. All are currently well and the wider contacts are also being tested of the one person who had earlier tested positive but breached self- isolation protocols and is now in mandatory government quarantine.
- Cayman Islands is in the third category of COVID-19 transmissions, as designated by the WHO and PAHO. The four designated categories are: no cases, sporadic cases, cluster cases and sustained community transmission cases respectively.
- The Cayman Islands is working hard not to move to the last category of sustained community transmission.
- All major countries in the world currently facing thousands of cases and struggling to gain the upper hand are in the last category.
- It is impressive to see that the number of persons exercising appears to have "quadrupled", which augurs well for the health of the Cayman Islands.
- To ensure that the benefits of social distancing continue, he recommended that runners maintain a distance of 15 feet from others whilst cyclists maintain 60 feet from other cyclists and others on the roads.
- Government is not yet considering issuing mandatory wearing of face masks by all. The large-scale availability of face masks is the constraint.
- Pool use by persons medically advised to exercise in water, which provides beneficial buoyancy for some patients, is prohibited. They are asked to seek their physicians' advice and/or approach physiotherapists for advice. There are also a number of self-help resources available online.
- A recovered person is one who initially tested positive and who has subsequently tested negative for the COVID-19 virus in two tests done at least 24 hours apart 14 days, after positive test or after symptoms have gone away, whichever is longer.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:
- Over the Easter weekend, a total of 84 were warned for prosecution for breaching soft and hard curfews, including 50 persons and 34 vehicles. On Easter Sunday, 50 were found in breach of hard curfew, the highest number in one day so far for this category.
- Overnight, there were no issues on Little Cayman; Cayman Brac had 16 interceptions but no breaches of curfew; Grand Cayman had 141 interventions, with 9 in breach of hard curfew including five drivers, two pedestrians and two exercising.
- Criminal activities caught were a motorcyclist as well as a motor vehicle driver who now face a mix of traffic, criminal and curfew breach charges.
- During soft curfew this morning, 12 were found to be in breach; 10 persons in vehicles and one pedestrian - all received tickets. One person who was walking along the beach in violation of the hard curfew was warned for prosecution.
- The beaches in the Cayman Islands currently remain under hard curfew until 5 am on Friday, 17 April 2020.
- The Commissioner asked people to steer clear of cyber scams appealing to persons' sense of generosity by seeking donations for COVID-19 related reasons.
- 246 persons were intercepted by Police for breach of curfew so far and 138 cases are with the Department of Public Prosecutions. Legal ruling was received on 24 cases and are ready to go before the courts.
- Front line Police officers have been issued masks, gloves and hand sanitizers and will be urged to use them when dealing with the public at supermarkets etc.
- He reiterated that penalties for hard curfew breach convictions are CI$3,000 in maximum fines, one year imprisonment or both.
Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- Elimination of the spread of the virus in the Cayman Islands is "absolutely achievable". The nation has the ability to test everyone on the islands if necessary.
- With the borders being closed, elimination is entirely possible due to the few returning after the closure being placed in mandatory isolation for 14 days, as the condition for their return, and being released into the community only if virus free after testing.
- While some in the business community are understandably concerned when the local economy will be opened back up, opening up too early will be highly detrimental to containing the spread of the virus in the community.
- Cayman has been ahead of the curve from the outset and the numbers seen, such as 54 positives and the single death of a tourist, speak for themselves.
- Government is taking a careful approach towards when to safely open up the borders as well as easing local restrictions.
- The measures put in place such as physical distancing have been critical in achieving the results the Cayman Islands now has.
- However, to become virus free, the Cayman Islands community should continue diligently practising all the measures put in place.
- Advice from Public Health England and Dr. Lee continues to be that if there is no local positive case for 14 days, then Government can consider easing the restrictions in a phased manner.
- Until such time, he requested all to continue complying strictly with the measures.
- He thanked all frontline staff for all that they do.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- His office will be announcing about possible evacuation flights to Miami, Canada, Nicaragua and is working on a flight to Jamaica, which is more difficult.
- Plans for Indian nationals who have sought to leave are on hold currently since India has extended closure of its borders for a further three weeks. The situation will be monitored and kept in review.
- Continuation of the air-bridge using British Airways is being looked at.
- He called on everyone to bear with the inconvenience of not being able to use the beaches.
Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
- All DEH collections were on time and targets were met.
- Ten new staff members have been brought on board at DEH to help with solid waste.
For further information contact: Bina Mani