(GIS) At the COVID-19 press conference today, Friday, 9 October 2020, Cayman Islands’ leaders reassured the Cayman Islands public that the current response to COVID-19 will continue until test results of some 230 persons considered contacts of the child now positive are received.
Any changes to the current suppression level will depend entirely on the results.
Leaders underscored that positive results received from the testing currently underway will trigger another press conference tomorrow (Saturday, 10 October) to announce the way forward and whether there will be any changes to the suppression level.
Contact tracing by the Public Health staff is continuing and testing has included those at the child’s school, as well as family members, contacts and staff at the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) where a relative of the child works.
Prayer was led by Pastor Steven DaSilva.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee reported:
- Out of 255 test results today, six are positive. Three are travellers in hotel isolation; two were positive at exit screening at the end of their 14-day isolation and one is a Year Two student from Red Bay Primary School who has tested weakly positive.
- There are 220 positives now, of whom two are symptomatic including the child, six are asymptomatic, one (not the child) is admitted at the Health Services Authority (HSA) and in stable condition and 211 have recovered.
- The child displayed symptoms related to a respiratory illness and so was classified as a case of positive COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution, despite one subsequent confirmatory test being negative. The case is treated as warranting further investigation.
- To begin the initial investigation, Public Health staff visited the school immediately after the child tested positive and took 200 swabs from a variety of students in Year 2, the child’s class, schoolmates, parents and school staff. Additionally, some 30 swabs were taken from NAU staff, who are colleagues of the child’s relative.
- The child’s father, mother and sibling have all been tested and found negative, even though the sibling has some symptoms as well.
- These are early days into the investigation and people should relax since the authorities have taken all the appropriate measures including the swift Public Health response and all contacts are in isolation at home. Any possible spread has been locked down.
- All have now to sit tight and wait and see what the results show from the testing which are expected later tonight or early tomorrow morning. More results will be run as required.
- Weakly testing positive could indicate that the person is at the beginning or the end of the disease.
- If one person tests positive in a household at the end of 14 days’ isolation, the entire household will remain in further isolation till a negative test result is received.
- Close contact remains contact six feet or less and for more than 15 minutes. Kissing or hugs even for a few seconds are considered close contact.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:
- It is hoped people are reassured by government’s swift response so far. If the child’s case turns out to be a false positive, the actions taken including testing and isolation are justified as government is erring on the side of caution.
- Government has been guided all along by the science and not by public pressure or negative comments. This has previously helped achieve success in CI’s COVID-19 response.
- Whether the school opens on Monday will depend on the tests underway.
- No positives from the 230 tests will provide reassurance that there is no evidence of onward transmission from the virus. Even five or 10 positives out of that number could signify a major issue.
- In an update on Travel Cayman, inbound travel to the Cayman Islands for October is at capacity and no new applications can be accepted.
- The NAU is routinely closed on Fridays and the planned closure next week was in response to an already scheduled fumigation and cleaning organised by NAU premises landlord at Aqua Mall. It has nothing to do with the child’s relative working there, which is a coincidence.
- For more from the Premier, see sidebar below.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:
- The child’s positive test which is understandably a matter of concern for the community, has tested weakly positive and subsequently negative yet has been treated as positive out of an abundance of caution.
- Cayman Islands’ response and action to COVID-19 continues to be sure-footed, proactive and decisive.
- All should be careful of what they spread on social media. They should check the facts before circulating and if in doubt, they should not circulate.
- For more, see sidebar below.
Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:
- While the child’s infection is a matter of concern, all should be reassured that CI has the most robust testing, tracing and tracking systems in place, which is why the nation has fared so well thus far.
- Continue to use best practices for maintaining personal hygiene include frequent hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask when one feels necessary but especially visiting other people’s homes and around the elderly and the vulnerable.
- Front line workers are encouraged to continue regular testing.
- For more from Minster Seymour, see sidebar below.
Sidebar: Premier Updates on Travel Cayman, NAU Closure
- Building on lessons learned from our COVID experience, we are working across government agencies to facilitate travel to the Cayman Islands, this is a cross ministerial project. Departments are working in collaboration across MITIAMA, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Employment and Border Control and Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure and the Office of the Deputy Governor.
- October inbound travel is at capacity and unfortunately, we cannot accept new applications, applications received to date are in the system and will be processed and travelers will be contacted regarding the status of their applications.
- Currently applications are prioritised weekly based on the coming weeks travellers and flight clearances. We are busy finalising next week’s details and will get back to those travellers first.
- People who have already applied do not need to reapply and the applications from Travel Time have been transferred to Travel Cayman.
- A new portal is being developed which will speed up the application and approval system and will be launched in the coming weeks
- All travellers who have applied through Travel Time and Travel Cayman for travel in October will be contacted regarding their application.
- Once approved to travel quarantine arrangements will be finalized with the traveller.
- Travellers who are planning travel in November and beyond that have not already applied to Travel Time or Travel Cayman are asked not to make an application at this time in order to allow us to prioritise the October travellers.
- We are working hard to process applications and get information to the public and travellers in a timely manner, we appreciate your patience
- For the most up to date information on travel requirements to the Cayman Islands visit: .
● Aqua Mall building, where the Needs Assessment Unit’s Grand Cayman offices is located, will undergo fumigation from Sunday, 11 October for four days.
●The NAU assures its clients that staff will be working remotely during the maintenance closure.
● NAU and the other mall tenants were notified about these arrangements yesterday morning. Fumigation had been pending but had been delayed due to the recent weather conditions.
● Standard fumigation will continue until late Wednesday, and will mean covering the entire mall with a tent. Following fumigation, the NAU will have its premises deep cleaned on Thursday. Its offices will as usual be closed next Friday.
● The NAU is closed to the general public on Fridays. It is therefore normal for staff to be working remotely today or conducting applications process in office.
●The NAU apologises for any inconvenience that the closure may cause.
Sidebar: Governor Advises All to be Confident in Government’s Response
This has been quite an eventful week already.
The situation at Red Bay Primary School is clearly a matter of concern, but government is acting out of an abundance of caution so we should all remain calm and keep this in perspective.
As Dr Lee explained today, the close family of the child have all tested negative and there is a question mark around the quality of the test which is reassuring, but we need to wait for further results to be absolutely sure.
I know government will continue to act in the way it has acted from the very beginning – sure footed, proactive, decisive and putting the health of everyone on these islands uppermost in their considerations.
It really isn’t a surprise that we get cases of this sort popping up, we have said that consistently all along. This is a very complicated virus and no country in the world has been able to go for very long periods without new cases occurring.
We can be confident in the government’s response, and I have seen it again today with the impressive response by Public Health. We have the abilities, the capacity and the skills to respond to these situations and to clamp down, isolate and deal with them.
Finally, I urge everyone to be careful on social media. We still see rumours and inaccurate information going around and when people are concerned it just heightens the worry, so please check information before you share and if you are in any doubt please don’t circulate it.
Sidebar: Minister Seymour Underscores Cayman’s Robust Testing Regime
We are with you again today for another press briefing to keep you updated, especially with the growing concerns today around the young student who tested positive. We are praying for a speedy recovery for the child.
I know there has been a lot of concern. However, I want to reassure the public that we have the most robust testing, tracing and tracking systems in place. This is why we have fared so well, thus far.
I want to thank the Ministry of Education and Public Health for coming together to work efficiently, calmly and effectively to manage this situation.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads.
With that I wanted to take a moment to reiterate that you, too, can do your part to keep the community safe. Let’s remember the best practices for maintaining personal hygiene. We all have a responsibility to uphold the COVID-19 Coronavirus prevention and protection measures currently recommended by local and international health authorities
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
A helpful tip is to carry a pocket-sized hand sanitiser and use frequently when out and about.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands.
- Consider wearing a mask while visiting other people’s homes, especially the elderly and vulnerable. As Dr Lee has said before, he will still wear his mask in public places and social distancing – consider if you would feel safer doing the same.
- Maintain six feet away from other groups as much as practical.
- Stick to your social groups (the friends you usually see at home or at school). Avoid moving between groups of friends. Social bubbles have been found to help prevent spread of the disease in other countries.
- Do not go to work, school or visit others if you are unwell or believe you have been in contact with someone who is unwell.
These recommendations are meant to supplement and not replace requirements under the Prevention, Control and Suppression of COVID-19 (Partial Lifting of Restrictions) (No.4) Regulations, 2020. You can always find the latest information and safety guidance at:
On that note, I would like to encourage front-line workers to continue regular testing as I said last week we should consider getting tested a civic duty that helps each and every one of us protect our community and those we love dearest.
We have a positive today but we wouldn’t have known that without testing. That action helps us get control of the situation quickly and contain the spread.