Wednesday, 15 April Update
Two flights each between Grand Cayman and Miami on Friday and Nicaragua on Saturday were announced at the COVID-19 update press conference today, Wednesday, 15 April 2020.
Prayer was led by Education Minister, Hon. Juliana O'Connor Connolly.
Two flights to Canada are being looked at for next week.
One local number and one US number were issued to help Caymanians and permanent residents continue registering interest in emergency travel to and from the Cayman Islands.
The Education Minister provided answers to a number of queries received from the community regarding a variety of educational issues, but notably regarding the continued closures of schools and the ongoing education of students staying at home.
All the information given by the Education team has been provided as a separate release from the Ministry.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee reported:
- Of 56 test results received, six are positive, with four from known contacts and two from unknown or local community transmission.
- This brings the total tests to 636, with 576 negatives and 60 positives.
- Of the positives, 19 of these are symptomatic, 24 are asymptomatic, six are fully recovered, five have clinically recovered. Four are admitted to the Health Services Authority and two at Health City. One of those at HSA continues to be on ventilator and the condition is improving steadily.
- Until masks are available in large quantities, wearing of masks will not be made mandatory at places of greater public contact such as banks, supermarkets, gas stations or pharmacies. Work on increasing the availability of homemade masks for non-surgical or non-medical use is at a heightened level.
- The test kits contain 2,000 reagents which can each perform 100 tests, giving the 200,000 that Cayman acquired. The testing kits have a shelf life of one year.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reported:
- There were no issues with hard curfew on Little Cayman; Cayman Brac had 11 vehicle interceptions but no breaches of curfew and one pedal cyclist was warned for prosecution for breach of curfew; on Grand Cayman, Police intercepted 156 vehicles and one driver was found in breach and warned for prosecution.
- Business owners in the George Town area were asked to check and secure their premises following a number of burglaries where cash, food and alcohol were taken. One person has been arrested in this connection.
- Since 24 March, 285 breaches of curfew were recorded, 145 files are completed and submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. DPP's legal rulings were received in 30. Of these, four have been presented to court. One person (which was previously announced) has received imprisonment for four months and the other three will be facing court trials.
- There are no restrictions by name for exercising Monday through Saturday by all persons for a maximum of one-and-a-half hours a day but beaches remain entirely off limits for any activity, including swimming and fishing. Stay off beaches or any access to the sea.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- Questions on opening the local economy continue. However, it would be a grave error to drop virus containment protocols prematurely. It would be "nothing short of lunacy to contemplate opening the economy unless the virus is contained."
- Otherwise, the "virus will fly through this community" and create a "mass tragedy". "We will have not one undeclared body in the Cayman Islands", with people's nearest and dearest becoming casualties to the virus.
- The virus has constrained everyone and every realm of activity including having access to pools and beaches. But it is better to be alive to have access to these in the near future.
- Premier shared a powerful personal story which made him realise the importance of being able to breathe normally. Twelve years ago, he fell off his pedal bike, broke a collar bone and three ribs, which punctured his right lung which then collapsed and rendered him unable to breathe, putting him in the ICU for two weeks. Trying to breathe when the lungs do not work is a "frightening experience".
- He emphasised Government's measures are aimed at saving lives, not to deliberately inconvenience people or stifle the economy.
- Mass testing will start early next week.
- Strictly following protocols can turn the tide in Cayman's favour in a few short weeks.
- "I ask, pray and beg the people for cooperation and help us get through the next few weeks."
- Cayman Islands still does not have sustained community transmission. Even though there have been six positives, four were known sources and the only source of worry is the two unknown cases.
- The more that people can keep away from others, the better the chances of vanquishing the virus.
- One or two air ambulances have been in to pick up patients requiring off-island medical care.
- If people on island want to leave and can charter private flights, they will be allowed to leave.
- The curfews which are scheduled to expire on Friday, 17 April will be extended to a period yet to be determined.
- The proposed sale of test kits to other countries will not be to the detriment of the Cayman Islands people. Medical expertise has determined that 100,000 test kits are sufficient for the Cayman Islands.
- Of the rest, so far 20,000 were sold to Barbados. Of the 35,000 still in the UK which were put down for sale to Bermuda, the numbers for that sale are still being discussed as Bermuda might not have need for that many. Enquiries have been received from St. Lucia, Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and Falkland Islands.
- Government has not formally agreed to any sale other than the one concluded with Barbados and the one pending with Bermuda.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- Endorsing the Premier's concerns, the Governor underscored this is not the time to loosen up the tight controls. So staying home is the best option.
- Regarding flights organised, there will be two flights to Miami on Friday. One is a charter flight bringing in less than 100 returning Caymanians and returning residents, all of whom will face mandatory isolation of 14 days and will be tested.
- Additionally, on Friday, Cayman Airways will have one flight departing to Miami and returning empty.
- On Saturday, Cayman Airways will put on two flights to Nicaragua to transport a total of 160 passengers and both will return empty.
- Two flights to Canada are being planned next week, for which the details are yet to be decided.
- Discussions are ongoing for flights to Honduras, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The focus will be continued attempts to meet demands and organise more flights.
- All seeking emergency flights should call 949-2311 or if in the US 1-800-422-9626.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:
- Shout out to Department of Vehicles and Equipment Services who are keeping the Police fleet and other government vehicles being used in good shape to remain on the roads.
- A shout out also went to primary school teachers who are laying the foundations of good character from a young age in Cayman Islands' children.
For further information contact: Bina Mani