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Cayman Islands Official Update on COVID-19

Government asks for community’s patience on reopening

Cayman Islands Official Update on COVID-19
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On Monday, May 11, 2020, a Cayman Islands Official update on COVID-19 was presented at a press conference stating that three positive cases and 761 negatives were reported. Also, two drive-through facilities in place are screening 300 daily. Between HSA, CTMH Doctors Hospital and Health City Cayman Islands the daily test target is 450.

Additionally, two field hospitals are operational, should it become necessary to use them.

Daily prayer was led by Pastor Kathy Ebanks.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriquez reported:

  • Of 764 test results to report today, 761 are negative and three positive. Of these, one is a contact of known positive patient and is asymptomatic; the other two are part of an ongoing investigation and are both asymptomatic.
  • 620 of the 764 tests reported on today were processed at the HSA lab and 144 were at the Doctors Hospital. These are a combination of screening results of different sections of the population and follow- up tests conducted by Public Health.
  • The management of Kirk’s Supermarket has been in close communication with Public Health and 121 persons are tested so far; “very low” percentage of these are positive and by the end of tomorrow (Tuesday), the plan is to complete testing of everyone in the supermarket. All the tests have been conducted by HSA. Deep cleaning was performed by the supermarket, supervised by Department of Environmental Health. HSA and Doctors Hospital will continue to do the screening for the rest of the staff.
  • Of 84 positives so far, 47 have recovered, 36 are active patients and no patients admitted.
  • The ‘Flu clinic on Friday saw 10 patients, 5 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday; the ‘Flu Hotline received 23 calls on Friday, 23 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.
  • Currently, there are 95 individuals in government’s isolation facilities and 98 Public Health investigation individuals.
  • A total of 4,187 persons have been tested in the Cayman Islands so far.
  • Persons who have been shopping at the supermarket have no need to be concerned if they have followed all protocols prescribed: maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and not touched their faces; as well as washed their hands thoroughly on returning home.
  • Two drive-through facilities for screening have seen 300 patients a day. HSA is also going to large companies and doing screening there, both of which will continue.
  • At this stage, there is no plan to randomly test the whole island. The focus is on persons who have greater interaction with the public such as frontline workers at healthcare facilities, supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies. Also testing of Cayman Brac screenings are underway.
  • The prisons have not been completed for screenings; however, most prison officers have been completed as well as some prisoners; none has tested positive at this time.
  • Among the facilities, the target is to complete 450 tests daily.
  • The number of frontline workers testing positive is “very, very low”.
  • Persons arriving have to remain in quarantine for 14 days, after which they have to test negative to be released into the community.
  • The contact tracing being followed is based on international guidelines and generally covers all persons in the household, as well as co-workers within one meter or less in proximity of the positive person for 15 minutes or more. So generally, 15-25 persons are also screened as contacts when one tests positive.

Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

  • The results over the weekend with 761 negatives are “very, very encouraging” and underscore the efficacy of the screening and of the system in place now to deal with the virus in the Cayman Islands.
  • However, it is also to be noted that the three positives are asymptomatic, giving credence to the view that there could be more out there in the community. This in turn shows that the reopening of community activities should be undertaken methodically and not overnight. The restrictions in place are working. Patience is called for.
  • The next segment to be reopened, but gradually and phased, is the development and construction industry, which will release about 8,000 workers. This will regenerate the economy and sustain employment in the Islands in the coming weeks.
  • A plan for screening construction workers will be announced shortly. For instance, sanitation facilities have to be in place at construction sites so that workers are able to wash hands, get and eat food with minimal risk to their co-workers.
  • Two frontline screening drive-through facilities now in place have begun functioning. See sidebar below for details.
  • Also, to support construction home depots will be opened in the next phase as well, which is in another week, based on continuing screening results on Grand Cayman. This move will increase the number of customers shopping indoors and therefore the risk for community transmission. Physical distancing rules will be enforced.
  • Despite constant and unrelenting pressure to reopen the Cayman Islands and its economy, Government’s “ethos” continues to be “lives are precious” and therefore the carefully reached current position and the sacrifices of our people cannot be thrown away by mass reopening. Lessons can be learnt from other areas opening their communities.
  • Continued community’s patience is asked for as the aim is to reopen more “relatively soon” but in a careful phased manner.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

  • Testing and screening are on track and Government’s strategy on virus containment is working, especially with its robust testing system and increase in screenings.
  • Cayman’s per capita testing is among the top 15 in the world.
  • Regarding evacuation flights, a small number of seats on the Dominican Republic flight scheduled for Sunday, 17 May is available. For reservations, contact Cayman Airways directly at 949-2311 or book on CAL’s website.
  • UK is taking a lead role in vaccine creation. “The UK is one of the biggest donors to the global alliance for vaccines and immunizations, known as Gavi. On 4-5 June, the UK will host a virtual Global Vaccine Summit, bringing together countries and organizations to follow the UK’s lead in investing in the work of Gavi.”
  • He gave a shoutout to the government internal audit team for its active role in COVID-19 response by prioritizing and working flexibly.

Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:

  • Minister gave a shoutout to Popeye’s and Burger King for providing food to the HSA on Grand Cayman and to Star Island for providing food to Faith Hospital staff on Cayman Brac.
  • The 60-bed field hospital facility is set up and ready for use, should there be a need for it. For details, see sidebar below.

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reminds public:

  • With the easing of curfew restrictions in Little Cayman and Cayman Brac last week the following curfew restrictions remain in place until 15 May 2020 at 5am.
  • Soft curfew or Shelter in Place Regulations on Grand Cayman remain in operation between the hours of 5am and 8pm daily Monday to Saturday.
  • Hard Curfew or full lockdown, save for exempted essential services personnel remains in operation on Cayman Brac between the hours of 8pm and 5am nightly Monday to Sunday inclusive. On Grand Cayman, it is hard curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am nightly Monday to Sunday inclusive and 24-hour hard curfew on Sunday – from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday.
  • Exercise periods not exceeding 90 minutes are permitted between the hours of 5.15am and 7pm daily Monday to Saturday. No exercise periods are permitted on Sunday during the period of curfew. This relates to Grand Cayman only as these restrictions have been removed in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
  • A full 24-hour hard curfew as it relates to Beach Access to Public Beaches on Grand Cayman remains in place through to Friday, 15 May at 5am. This means no access to public beaches on GC at any time until Friday 15 May at 5am. This prohibits any person from entering, walking, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, or engaging in any type of marine activity on any public beach on Grand Cayman. This restriction is removed from Cayman Brac effective Thursday, 7 May evening.
  • A breach of a hard curfew order is a criminal offence carrying a penalty of $3,000 KYD and imprisonment for one year, or both.

Sidebar: Premier Outlines HSA Expansion of COVID Testing Capacity

The Health Services Authority has expanded their testing capacity for COVID-19 screenings with the opening of two drive through screening tents for frontline workers and expansion of their laboratory to increase the processing of samples in a day.

HSA CEO Lizzette Yearwood said she is pleased with how the drive through screening has gone since opening last week. “There are many logistics and steps in the process to ensure it operates as efficiently as possible.”

Upon arrival at the HSA’s drive through screening area, the whole process takes approximately 5 minutes.

HSA has also expanded physical laboratory space at the Cayman Islands Hospital, partnered with a private lab and has hired and trained additional laboratory staff in order to increase testing capacity. “It has been a tremendous effort from many persons to get us to this point, and we continue to look at ways to further increase testing capacity, said Yearwood. “These latest improvements and expansions are a significant step in the right direction to increase testing.”

Public Health is scheduling appointments with frontline workers for the foreseeable future while the testing efforts have ramped up. Phase 2 frontline workers and a percentage of construction workers are currently being scheduled for screenings.  HSA, Public Health, and the Chief Medical Officer are working together to prioritize persons or business who are deemed essential frontline workers.

“There are thousands of individuals that are deemed frontline workers, so it will take a few weeks to get through the majority. We understand there is anxiety in the general population to be tested so we are making all efforts to screen as many eligible persons as possible,” said Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, Medical Officer of Health. “In addition to the drive through screening, members from Public Health are also conducting screenings on-site for larger businesses, which enables employees to be swabbed without having to leave the workplace.”

Persons who are screened for COVID-19 will receive results through the online MyHSA Patient Portal, which provides a secure method to accessing lab results. Public Health will continue to contact anyone who tests positive for COVID by phone. All persons screened will be provided a free patient portal account.

As the COVID pandemic is a national crisis, HSA is working collectively with the local private hospitals in an effort to screen as many essential workers as possible.

“We are currently working with Doctors Hospital by sending them various businesses to be screened in an effort to ensure they maximize their testing capacity,” said Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, Medical Officer of Health. “Health City Cayman Islands will be an additional screening site for essential workers in the Eastern Districts.”

All screening facilities are by appointment only and businesses will be contacted by Public Health for specific appointment times.

Sidebar 2: Minister Seymour Highlights Family Life Alternate Medical Centre

“We can agree that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a learning experience for us all, especially those who are blessed to serve within the government. We have had to learn to adapt quickly as information develops while creating the appropriate contingency plans for our country. Amongst these plans is the field hospital that would accommodate any overflow of COVID-19 patients should our healthcare facilities reach capacity.

On Friday, members of the National Emergency Operations Committee or NEOC, leaders from the HSA and other clinicians toured the Family Life Alternate Medical Centre. This sixty bed facility has been fully equipped to house patients in the event of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. While we do sincerely hope and pray that we will not have many persons requiring hospitalization, preparing for such a scenario is important for saving lives.

A field hospital was identified as a phase 4 measure in the Cayman Islands Clinical Guidance for COVID-19 Management. Several facilities were assessed, and the Family Life Centre proved to be the best solution based on size, adequate airflow, and proximity to the Cayman Islands Hospital. If necessary, the facility would require 120 staff members, both clinical and non-clinical, to operate at full capacity. The Family Life Alternate Medical Centre will be managed by Dr. Delroy Jefferson, HSA Medical Director; Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin, HSA Head of Accident and Emergency; and Gillian Barlow, HSA Nurse Manager.

The Family Life Alternate Medical Centre has been made possible through public and private sector partnership. Special recognition goes to Mr. Simon Griffiths of the Public Works department who managed the project and worked closely with the HSA Clinical Task Force, NEOC, specifically Graeme Jackson NEOC project manager, and private healthcare providers to ensure all the necessary medical requirements would be met.

We would also like to express gratitude to Pastor Alson Ebanks and his congregation for providing the Family Life Centre.”

What was reported yesterday in Cayman Islands Official Update.