Published 13th April 2020, 6:58pm
I just want to say a few things based on my following of what’s being discussed by some members of the public on social media and elsewhere. Although I’ve spoken about most of these things before I think they bear some need for reinforcement.
I’ve seen and heard the criticism by some that the Government doesn’t have a plan. Some people say they want to know what the Government’s plan is. I say again the Government does have a plan. The plan is aimed at the suppression and the ultimate elimination of the virus within the confines of the Cayman Islands. All of the measures that we have taken so far and the ones that we are still taking are aimed at that ultimate goal.
We are deeply conscious that our actions have grave financial impacts and indeed is causing and will continue to cause major hardship to many, many people, in fact almost everyone that is here. But it is necessary if we are to be able to effectively employ the only known means of containing and attempting to eliminate the virus.
No country in the world has yet succeeded in eliminating it – not even China with all of its great efforts, I’ve just read some stats that cases are still popping up.
Essentially the most important thing we can do, is to adhere to physical or social distancing - keeping people apart from each other. So everything we are doing is aimed at that.
The other component is testing. Until very recently we haven’t had the ability to test widely and we’re still not quite there because although we’ve got more test kits than we need, there are still other aspects of the process that are still being worked through.
Hopefully by next week we will be able to go very aggressively into testing of frontline personnel and just about anybody who we think, or they think, need or warrant being tested. That is the Government’s approach to this, suppression and ultimate elimination of the virus within the broad community.
Once we are able to do that we would be able to slowly release most of these restrictions that are currently in place and to allow the local economy to restart in a limited way.
We’ve seen what is being attempted in many other countries. Spain is now trying slowly to restart its economy. Looking at it with my inexpert eyes, I still think it’s very early for them to do that. We’ve seen though that they are successfully doing it in China.
Cayman of course is a much smaller place and it is almost impossible for us to not have interaction with many, many people regardless of where they come from. This is a very small place and we all tend to congregate in many of the same areas.
Trying to reopen Cayman district by district would be an absolute impossibility, we have to eliminate the disease as far as possible, within each of the islands, and even then unless we absolutely restrict travel between Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman we’re still potentially spreading the virus if it still remains within the local community.
The only way that we can effectively restart this economy is if we are able to effectively stamp out the virus here. Otherwise nobody is going to want to move about these islands doing business, at least no sensible person, with the real risk that the virus is still there and that they might contract it.
It is deeply concerning to me and to us all, when we see and hear some of the very narcissistic comments that are made which contend that essentially we should just let the elderly and the vulnerable people die. Just accept they are causalities in this particular war and we just let them die off and the strong will survive and we can just get on with business.
That is absolutely not the approach of the Government, and it’s absolutely not my approach. Whatever measures that we have to employ, that gives every person that lives and breathes here an opportunity to survive this very difficult, very challenging, very dangerous time - we are going to employ.
Though it is with the deepest of regret that we have had to take the decision to close the beaches and access to the water. It is because there continue to be significant numbers of people who are absolutely reckless or completely blind to what is appearing on their television screens every single day about the ravages of this virus right across the world.
Believe you me, I’ve seen some stuff written by ostensibly sensible people that left me absolutely shaking my head. I don’t know how anyone can believe that they are somehow immune to this virus because they are 35 or 40 years old.
No-one knows how your body is going to respond to the virus, but it’s not just about you, you may survive it but you may be the instrument of another’s demise because you passed it to someone who passed it on to them. That’s the bit that some people just don’t seem to get.
So if we can adhere to these protocols that have been put in place, we have a chance of being able to eliminate this in relatively short order. Otherwise it’s going to be one of two things: Death by a thousand cuts because the virus just slowly creeps through the community and it takes months and we’re under this set of restrictions or even more stringent ones for a much longer period of time. Or we move to a full 21 day lockdown like they’ve had to do in some other places where only one member of the household is allowed out once a week to get necessary supplies.
It’s going to have to be one or the other because we can’t get into July and August under these restrictive provisions that are currently in place which are constantly being breached by a minority. The majority of people are complying and are being very, very sensible but it doesn’t take more than a few to cause this virus to spread.
Now I know a number of people are being encouraged because the numbers are still relatively small. The first case we had is now a month ago, today is twenty two days since we closed our borders and we have tested 580 people, we have 54 positives, we still have only the one death and we have a limited number of people in hospital.
So those stats might give people a sense of complacency but believe you me the situation that we have with the apartment complex in George Town that has just been reported should make everybody extremely concerned, it certainly makes us very concerned. And until we can go through the process of tracing and testing we all need to be absolutely on our guard.
Do not leave your home unless you absolutely have to, it is the safest place you can be. That is the simplest message I can deliver, the most straight forward I can deliver. Stay home Cayman, we keep saying it over and over again. If we can suppress this virus effectively, we will be able to start doing all the things that we want to do again.
If we continue the way we are with increasing positive cases, this is going to stretch out interminably and if you think you’re frustrated now, if you feel your liberties are being impinged upon, it is only going to get worse because the Government is resolute and determined that we are not going to allow this virus to spread right through this community. We’re going to give it every single effort we possibly can, employ every possible measure that we can, to keep that from happening.
Please my people work with us, I beg you, work with us. Let’s collectively be the only country in the world that effectively eliminates this virus and to get on with our domestic activities while the virus burns itself out around the rest of the world.