Government has imposed mandatory quarantine and is working on travel restrictions for travellers and residents who have been to mainland China.
This means people with recent travel history to China will have to submit to quarantine, rather than voluntarily doing so.
Last week, the Public Health Department confirmed a “very small” number of people have been isolated and they were “asymptomatic”.
There has been no further word on these individuals and their medical condition.
Cayman is set to join more than 50 countries or territories that have imposed travel restrictions and tightened visa requirements to contain the novel coronavirus, according to the International Air Transport Association.
In a statement Monday evening, Cayman’s Ministry of Health said travellers who have been to China within 14 days prior to their arrival in the Cayman Islands will be subject to mandatory quarantine, following measures implemented by Cabinet.
“Cayman nationals and returning residents who have been to mainland China and are planning on returning or have already returned to the Cayman Islands will be subject to quarantine and surveillance for up to fourteen days since departing mainland China at a location to be determined by the Medical Officer of Health – which may be their homes in some circumstances,” the statement said.
Non-residents would be taken to a designated quarantine facility. The release did not specify the location of the facility.
It said Cabinet has approved the drafting of “new Regulations under Section 34 of the Public Health Law (2002) to restrict the entry of visitors by aircraft or ship to the Cayman Islands if they have had a recent travel history to, from or through mainland China”.
No time frame was given for when those regulations will be ready.
However, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said on Twitter Monday night that the regulations require Cabinet approval, which should be ready “within days”.
Novel coronavirus has been added to the Schedule of Notifiable Diseases of the Public Health Law, providing government additional powers to manage the disease. Individuals subject to quarantine would be legally required to adhere to the restrictions.
The travel notice does not include travellers who have visited Hong Kong or Macau.
Individuals would be held for surveillance for up to 14 days after their departure from China. Families who travelled together would be quarantined together.
Cabinet has approved a budget of up to $100,000 for quarantine measures.
While the Cayman Islands does not receive direct flights from China or Asia, a government release stated that many law firms and financial institutions in the jurisdiction have offices in the region. Many companies, however, have reduced or stopped travel to China in recent weeks.
“Since last week, cruise ships have been denying boarding to anyone with a travel history from mainland China; additionally, many of our neighbours (including the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and the USA) have instituted similar travel restrictions,” the release read.
No cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the Cayman Islands.
The ministry, in its question-and-answer fact sheet on the virus, said that for visitors who might need quarantine, the emergency provision currently in place is that of designated hurricane shelters, “although alternatives may be selected”.
“We have considered the need to provide food and drink, toiletries and internet access. Locally, families will generally tend to their own personal requirements. However, where this is not possible, Public Health staff will be able to purchase and deliver groceries to the residence. It is our goal to ensure those quarantined are comfortable, well attended by Public Health staff, and have access to outside communication such as internet access,” the government release said.
As for commercial imports originating from China, the release said, those should not pose a risk “as the virus will not survive the journey”.
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