A Public Health England laboratory specialist is expected to be dispatched to the Cayman Islands next week to support local efforts in response to the coronavirus threat, according to a Governor’s Office statement on Friday evening.

It comes as Cayman confirmed that there no cases of the virus that has impacted 76 countries worldwide.

The statement added that specialist technical advice is also being looked at.

“Our relationship with the UK also enables us to have access to specialist support including some of the best technical and scientific thinking in the world. I am grateful to Public Health England for their support and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure that the decisions we take are based on the best available science,” Governor Martyn Roper said in the statement.

A team from Public Health England, led by Autilia Newton, head of the Overseas Territories programme, has been on island this week discussing a number of healthcare-related issues, including the current situation with COVID 19. 

The statement said Newton and a consultant in communicable disease control “has been discussing strategies with the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing and the HSA. In particular, PHE are providing support to ensure that HSA’s laboratory services can be upgraded swiftly to enable on island testing for COVID 19”.

The UK, it said, is also conducting modelling for the Overseas Territories to enable more accurate predictions of the likely impact of COVID 19 which will support the planning already being undertaken by the Cayman Islands government.

Further support to the Overseas Territories was also discussed earlier Friday at a Cabinet Office Briefing Room meeting in London.

Roper, the statement said, has just returned from a meeting in Miami with other Overseas Territories’ governors and heads of UK diplomatic missions in the Caribbean region.

The meeting discussed a range of regional issues, including coordination of the response to COVID-19.  

“There is a lot of planning going on in Government to ensure that the impact of COVID-19 on the Cayman Islands is managed effectively. We have high-quality health professionals in the Cayman Islands, in whom I and PHE England have full confidence and our medical facilities are excellent,” Roper said.

He urged the public to ensure that they only seek information on COVID-19 from official government sources.

“The risks of rumours and false information in this situation are real and we need to remain calm, act on official scientific advice and continue to go about our day-to-day business,” he added.

The advice comes a day after Cayman port officials have said there was no truth to a social media message being circulated on WhatsApp claiming that containers are not being allowed to be discharged locally.

“Commerce continues as normal. The protocols of public health are being upheld and there is no need for fear or panic,” acting Port Director Joseph Woods said in a statement to the media Thursday evening.

He issued the statement in response to a voice message that was being circulated alleging that government is not allowing any containers to come into the Cayman Islands.

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