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22 May COVID 19 Update

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin

At the Friday, 22 May 2020 COVID-19 press conference, Government leaders continued to be upbeat with the screening tests and the results they have produced.

The press conference began with prayer led by Rev. John Case Snr.

While acknowledging that there is community transmission, the leaders emphasised that the numbers currently appear low enough for Government to maintain its ongoing momentum to slowly and carefully re-open the economy.

Despite seeing positives in subsequent batches of screening tests of frontline staff, the results are in line with the expectations of the medical experts. No one has attended a clinic or hospital with COVID-19 symptoms since 27 April. There is no "cause for alarm" despite the positives. Government's strategy and plan are working.

Even those positive are showing as "weakly positive", with the warm weather in the Cayman Islands believed to play a part in keeping numbers low.

However, while the positives are currently all asymptomatic, it is all the more important that protocols put in place, such as: wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and respiratory hygiene practices are strictly followed, the leaders underscored.

Participating in the press conference today were His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin and Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour as well as Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee.

Dr. Lee reported that out of a total of 129 positives in the Cayman Islands, only 67 are active cases, of which 12 are symptomatic, 55 are asymptomatic, none hospitalised and 61 recovered. Only time can provide a fuller scientific understanding regarding asymptomatic persons as well as the Islands' immunity profile, he said.

It is also possible for persons to get the virus twice, since the overall immunity for coronavirus infections does not last long generally. This is another area the scientific community will learn more about as time goes on.

There have been no positive cases among the construction industry personnel test results so far; more results are awaited from the 1,600 tests done in this sector. No pockets of concern are seen and the reopening of the construction industry remains on track. Additionally, the screening tests are limited currently to those industries that Government is concentrating on reopening in each suppression level, and are not being made open to general employers seeking to have specific employees tested.

Temperature scanners are not seen to be of great use in the Cayman Islands with the current strain of COVID-19.

The Premier reiterated the need for patience and said testing will continue to delineate the way forward.

The Premier explained that during soft curfew, persons are only allowed out on Sundays for two reasons: going to pick up food at restaurants as well as going out to exercise.

International postal services have resumed to the US (see already published release).

Rules for allowing work permit holders to return to work were explained (see sidebar below).

Penalty fee waivers have been extended for May by the Water Authority (see already published release).

The Governor said the British Airways airbridge leaves tomorrow (Saturday, 23 May) heading to London and onward to Manila carrying approximately 280 Filipinos. Five junior Cayman Regiment officers will also leave on the flight to attend training at Sandhurst.

Two outbound Cayman Airways flights to Miami are scheduled for 5 and 19 June; there will be no passengers returning to the Cayman Islands on these two flights.

Additionally, those wishing to return to the Cayman Islands on any future BA airbridge flights from London, (one is planned for June although no dates are confirmed)can contact the CI Government Office in London to register for the flight by calling that office direct at +44 207 491 7772 or emailing CIGO UK.

For inter-island travel which is restricted to essential personnel and for emergency medical treatment only, persons can register at Brac travel.

The Governor noted as "completely untrue" social media rumours that two positives at the Prison had triggered rioting; he urged those reporting to be mindful of the impact on the families of prison officers and the families of prisoners by such reports. "One of the hallmarks of good journalism is to check facts," he commented.

Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour spoke to the use and distribution of testing kits and masks so far in the Cayman Islands (see already published press release on masks). MLAs had been provide with 2,000 of the surgical masks for distribution in their constituencies, he added.

Features of relaxed restrictions during Level 2 Suppression are still being worked on. A concern will continue to be large gatherings.

Shout outs today went to all in the Emergency Medical Services during global EMS week; HMCI Director Dani Coleman and her team for the successful completion of a table-top hurricane preparedness exercise, Government Information Services' Chief Suzette Ebanks for her dedication and diligence during the entire ongoing crisis, to the GIS team, to all in the Government communication team, to litter crews seen in Savannah and Bodden Town, as well as the entire press conference podium team.

Birthday greetings going out included to Ms Florrie Huldah Ebanks of West Bay on her 103rd, Ms Jane Ramoon on her 80th, Ms Amy Hennings of Creek, Cayman Brac on her 91st and Ms Lovi Britton on her 82nd today.

Sidebar: Premier Provides Procedures for Some Returning Workers

"What is the procedure for returning work permit holders?

The travel helpline is transitioning from the Governor's Office to CBC and the processes are being revised.

However, in the interim, the process for persons seeking to return to the Cayman Islands is as follows:

  • Persons must register their intent to travel to the Cayman Islands by contacting Emergency travel desk via web: www.explore.gov.ky/travel, email: Emergency Travel or phone: +1 (345) 244-3333.
  • Requests for permission for work permit holders and non-Caymanians to travel to the Cayman Islands are considered and decided on by the Deputy Premier's Office.
  • Approvals are subject to a number of considerations:

  1. Confirmation that the employee works for a company that has resumed business and that the physical presence of the employee is essential and required;
  2. Checks will need to be done to ensure that the employee's permit is active, has sufficient time left on their work permit, and that the employer is in good standing with business licenses, relevant health ins. premiums etc;
  3. Confirmation there is adequate capacity at the Government run isolation facilities to house the employee on arrival;
  4. The availability of flights;
  5. If the employee is deemed eligible to return, the employer must confirm that they will be responsible for the cost of the isolation stay and will pay it up front, that they will also be responsible for the cost of additional isolation if their employee tests positive at the end of the 14 days;
  6. Confirmation that the employee also has secured private accommodation and the ability to pay for that accommodation after isolation is necessary to avoid reliance on the Government.

As a side note, with the passage of the Immigration Transition Law Amendments in April, new work permit applications, and work permit renewals are subject to advertisements on the JobsCayman website.

This will help to ensure Caymanians registered with WORC are aware of jobs that are available and Caymanian jobseekers have an opportunity to apply and have the first preference for jobs. This will also better assist the decision makers to be aware that Caymanians applied for jobs.

GIS

For further information contact: Bina Mani