Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew has said the National Community Enhancement programme stands ready to assist the Mosquito Research and Control Unit in its efforts to deal with dengue.

Hew said while the work programme, known as NiCE, is not part of the target response for dengue control, he believes the incoming cohort can join the fight.

“The Mosquito Research and Control Unit has been very proactive in assisting residents in high-risk areas by providing pamphlets and doing inspections. Of course, if there is any way that we can help, we will certainly be willing to,” Hew said.

The minister’s comment comes as local health officials this week reported that two more cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been confirmed. This takes the total number of confirmed cases to eight – four locally transmitted and four imported. The first locally transmitted case was reported last month.

According to a Public Health Department statement, since the start of the year Cayman has sent 96 samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency to be investigated for dengue.

“Of that number, 26 persons were admitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital showing clinical symptoms that might potentially be dengue,” the Public Health Department statement added.

NiCE registration for its winter cohort will be held on Wednesday at the Lions Centre in George Town.

According to a Government Information Services statement, workers who are selected for the bi-annual initiative will be tackling repairs and maintenance, as well as clearing sargassum, if needed.

“One would assume cleaning debris and underbrush and removing garbage from our roadsides will assist in the matter [mosquito control],” Hew added.

NiCE workers will also be beautifying cemeteries, parks, beaches, beach access and roadside verges.

The final NiCE project for 2019 will run for three weeks starting from 25 Nov. to 13 Dec.
“The project will also ensure that Caymanians benefit from a healthy environment,” said Hew in the GIS statement. “I look forward to my Ministry once again delivering the NiCE programme to help build stronger communities and support the most vulnerable, in keeping with the Government’s broad policy outcomes.”

The ministry will partner with the Public Works Department, the National Roads Authority and the Department of Environmental Health to deliver the programme.

Registration will begin at 9am. Latecomers will not be allowed to register, the statement said.

“The programme is open to unemployed Caymanians and spouses of Caymanians 18 years old and over; strict vetting will take place to ensure that only those who qualify register, organisers confirm,” the statement added. NiCE workers will work up to three weeks, Mondays to Fridays, 7am to 3pm.

The ministry, the statement said, will work closely with Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman to ensure that those able to take up full-time work after the programme finishes are given every assistance.