Border control gets health advice on coronavirus

Public Health Surveillance Officer Timothy McLaughlin-Munroe, in blue shirt, addresses Customs and Border Control staffers. – Photo CBC

Cayman’s Customs and Border Control officers will be assisted by a Public Health Department staffer to handle health screenings during busy periods at local ports of entry.

In a statement issued Thursday, CBC said the public health officer will help provide information to arriving air passengers and “will also be able to respond to airport staff queries and take any health matter forward”.

It comes as Cayman implements measures to ensure the coronavirus does not reach local shores.

This week, health officials confirmed that a “very small” number of people who returned from China are being monitored. These individuals are in isolation in their homes.
Public health officials have been monitoring them daily.

The coronavirus has been deemed a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. So far, 566 deaths have been recorded. There have been 28,396 coronavirus cases confirmed worldwide.

There have been no reported cases of the virus in Cayman.

CBC said frontline staff working at the airports and sea port have received medical briefings from the PHD on what measures to take to reduce their own risk, how to assess travellers’ risk, and the procedure to follow when travellers should be referred for medical assessment.

“Following the advice of medical experts, CBC officers are not required to wear surgical masks as a standard part of the frontline uniform. However, masks are placed at the booths for immediate use in special circumstances. If individual officers feel more comfortable with wearing a mask, they are empowered to do so,” the statement said.

The National Security Council and Cabinet held separate meetings this week to discuss Cayman’s response to the virus and what measures should be implemented to prevent any cases on island.

No public statements have been issued on the outcomes of those discussions as of press time.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour stated at a press briefing on Monday that his ministry was seeking Cabinet approval for more than $1 million to purchase equipment and beds for a quarantine room.

CBC Deputy Director Gary Wong said at that briefing that his officers are vigilantly monitoring those entering Cayman.

He reiterated that position Thursday, adding, “CBC is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure our officers receive the resources needed for them to perform their duties.”

He added, “We will continue to take proactive measures to ensure that officers throughout the department are trained and kept aware of any information received from Public Health in order for them to protect themselves and the people of the Cayman Islands.”
CBC officers have been tasked to review passengers’ travel histories and to check for visible symptoms of respiratory illness, the statement said.

“If passengers who are assessed warrant medical escalation, then CBC officers will request that the passenger use a surgical mask and wait in an isolated area until they can be examined by medical personnel,” the statement added.

Acting Director of CBC Bruce Smith has said that CBC senior and supervisory managers at ports of entry will adhere to all Public Health Department health and safety protocols.

“I strongly advise that the travelling public fully cooperate with landing officers and, as well, heed all official advisories and recommended health and hygiene best practices for the greater good,” he said in the statement.