Cayman Islands: Official COVID-19 Tourism Update
At the COVID-19 press conference, Cayman Islands’ leaders reiterated that the ethos behind the Cayman Islands’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to be putting lives above all other considerations.
After prayer led by Father Naveen D’Souza, the leaders also emphasised that Government is working hard to ensure that local economic activities, which are hurting, can reopen as quickly and safely as possible for all in the community. “The Cayman Islands is not prepared to sacrifice any life just to get back to normal”, said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin.
Older persons with the wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience they bring have always been and continue to be invaluable to the Caymanian way of life and values.
The leaders appealed to all in the Cayman Islands to have patience and continued confidence in the measures put in place to work.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriquez reported:
- Out of 297 results received, 296 tested negative and one positive, who is a community transmission case and is asymptomatic. Investigation of how the patient was infected has begun by Public Health, including contact tracing.
- The current trend of predominantly negatives is very encouraging and more screening is continuing.
- At the HSA Flu Clinic, there were 8 patients yesterday while the Flu hotline received 14 calls.
- 90 individuals are currently in government run mandatory isolation facilities, in addition to 104 individuals in public-health mandated isolation in the community.
- Regular screening that is done for school entry each year has been postponed due to the current situation due to Public Health nurses being deployed to deal with COVID-19.
- Public Health has continued its six weeks’ post-natal and vaccination clinics, working together with the paediatrician at HSA, public health staff and some private clinics. From Monday, 11 May, persons seeking service should contact 244-2562 to speak to a Public Health nurse and get updates; leaving a message if they get no answer, which will be returned quickly.
- Non-emergency patients can currently contact HSA general practice clinic for their needs by tele-medicine, prescriptions or investigation. Private clinics are also providing tele-medicine service.
- 2 public health field hospitals are set up should the number of cases increase to the point where the HSA is overwhelmed. Hopefully they won’t be needed but just in case. They would be used for treating general patients and COVID -19 milder cases. Given the current trend of test results, if the facilities are not used they will still provide an invaluable resource that can be stood up in the event of a hurricane or other disaster.
- Advice for those preparing to get back to work: drink plenty of fluids, stay mentally and physically fit, continue to practice social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene.
- There is currently no plan to mass sanitise public places.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- With the pressure continuing to reopen, Premier noted that it would be “tragic” to have made so many sacrifices until now collectively as a nation and a people only to throw it all away because some in the community cannot wait for a week or two to reopen businesses.
- Cayman’s “ethos” as far as humanly possible is to preserve lives and is not prepared to sacrifice any life just to get back to normal. That view is not about to change at this stage. So all is being done to ramp up the screenings so authorities have a good grasp of the prevalence of the virus in the community, followed up by taking steps to trace, track down and treat them.
- Patience is required from all though it is appreciated that jobs and the economy are important.
- Little Cayman is released from most restraints; Cayman Brac is as well with a few additional safety precautions in force. Grand Cayman will be in that position soon if increased screening results continue to be as encouraging as they currently are.
- The Cayman Islands has always revered its elderly, particularly for their wisdom, insight and the way they enrich everyone’s lives. Their lives matter.
- He wished birthday greetings to former Speaker of the House, Hon. Mary Lawrence, who is 80 today, and former Chief Education Officer Mrs. Islay Conolly who is 97 today, Mrs. Hyacinth Rose and Mrs. Miriam Anglin, as well as Mothers’ Day greetings to all mothers in the community.
- The mortal remains of former MLA, Mrs. Leda Esterleen Ebanks lay in state at the LA today, for which occasion flags were at half-mast as a mark of respect for her years of public service. Premier led a minute’s silence in her memory.
- British Overseas Territories are performing well in response to COVID-19 and in the face, as are we, of economic consequences are grappling with the way to keep their countries running for the next 6-9 months without tourists.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- Governor echoed Premier with regard to the Cayman Islands’ ethos for saving lives and the respect traditionally given to the elderly in the community.
- He offered condolences to the family of the late Mrs. Esterleen ‘Esther’ Ebanks and birthday wishes to the former Speaker and former CEO noted by the Premier.
- He also appreciated the approach taken by the majority in the community in dealing with COVID-19 requirements.
- The Costa Rica and Honduras evacuation flights left today.
- The Miami flight takes place on Friday, 15 May and can be booked directly with Cayman Airways online or by calling 949-2311. The return flight is open to pre-approved passengers only and Cayman Airways will be directly in touch with them.
- The flight to the Dominican Republic takes place on Sunday, 17 May and those seeking to travel should also contact CAL directly. For this, CAL reservations will be open between 9am-6 pm on Saturday and 1-5 pm on Sunday.
- So far, 921 people have left on the evacuation flights and 370 returned.
- His shout-outs were for the 75th anniversary of D-Day signifying the Nazis’ unconditional surrender, the Red Cross on Red Cross Day today and its volunteers.
- He also lauded the Alliance to End Domestic Violence, which along with government entities and the Crisis Centre has organised a webinar for persons affected by domestic violence during the ongoing pandemic.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said:
- Minister gave a shout out to all mothers in the Cayman Islands for Mothers’ Day Sunday.
- He highlighted a virtual concert “To Mother With Love” that will be held jointly by the SDA Conference and the Lions Club of Grand Cayman. Featuring the best of Cayman talents and a special guest performance by international gospel artist Glacia Robinson, the event takes place Sunday 10 May at 6 pm and will be streamed live on the Lions Club of Grand Cayman and Cayman Mothers Day concert Facebook pages as well as broadcast later on CIG TV.
HMCI Director Danielle Coleman said:
- Cayman Islands is on track in preparations for both COVID-19 and the upcoming Hurricane Season.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Derek Byrne reminds public:
- With the easing of curfew restrictions in LC and CB this 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 CB 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 CB and LC.
- 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.
HSA expands 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 prioritise 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 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.