The man being treated at Health City and confirmed as Cayman’s first recorded COVID-19 positive patient has died from coronavirus-related complications, Health City Cayman Islands Clinical Director Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil confirmed to the Cayman Compass Saturday afternoon.
“The cause of death was bilateral interstitial pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome – Coronavirus Disease-19” he said in response to Compass queries.
The man, who was from Italy, passed away at 4:40am on Saturday, according to a media statement from Health City Cayman Islands.
The 68-year-old man, who was taken to the East End facility off the cruise ship Costa Luminosa on 29 Feb. for urgent cardic care, was being treated in isolation at the tertiary care facility’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU).
Chattuparambil, on Thursday at a media briefing to announce the first positive COVID-19 case, said the patient in question had two cardiac arrests while on the cruise ship and was taken directly to the hospital.
He clarified that prior to developing respiratory symptoms, a dry cough, days after he was treated for his cardiac condition, “the patient appeared to be recovering well following interventional cardiac treatment for a pre-existing cardiac condition”.
He said at that time, “he was considered to be in critical but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit.“
“His condition subsequently deteriorated further,” he said.
Chattuparambil said earlier on Saturday that his team was awaiting direction.
“Since we are dealing with an unprecedented situation, we have asked the Public Health Department for directives concerning the mortal remains of the patient,” Chattuparambil said.
The Compass reached out to Public Health for more on those directives and is awaiting a response.
The Clinical Director of Health City Cayman Islands has advised members of the public to remain calm in the wake of the patient’s death.
“The patient’s death does not increase the risk to the general public in any way. He was an older patient with pre-existing health issues who would be more greatly impacted by the disease than the vast majority of people. We continue to urge everyone to follow standard precautionary measures against contracting the virus, including regular hand-washing and practising good respiratory hygiene,” he said.
The news of the man’s passing follows Premier Alden McLaughlin’s announcement on Friday of further measures to slow the spread of the disease, including a ban on all cruises coming to local shores, an expanded list of travel restrictions, a limit of 50 people at public gatherings, and the closure of local educational institutions.
On Saturday, government officials, including Governor Martyn Roper, Premier McLaughlin and Health Minister Dwayne Seymour, extended condolences to the wife and family of the patient who passed away.
“Our heartfelt sympathies to the patient’s widow who has lost her husband in a land far from home,” McLaughlin said in the government statement.
Seymour, commenting on the passing of the patient, said, it is “obviously a time for national reflection. I urge the people of the Cayman Islands, in particular those at high risk and their loved ones, to put into rigorous practice the measures that prevent COVID and so will save their lives. Most important of these are rigorous hand-washing and social distancing.”
Chattuparambil also extended condolences to the patient’s family.
“Despite best efforts, he passed away this morning. His passing seems to fit the profile of COVID-19 in that elderly patients with underlying health issues are most likely to succumb to the virus,” he said.
The patient’s wife remains in isolation at the hospital.
Chattuparambil reiterated that she has been tested and her test results should be received in the next two to three days.
She was informed of her husband’s death by phone in order to preserve quarantine.
Health City on Friday temporarily closed the hospital, saying it will not be accepting new patients for two weeks following the confirmation of the positive COVID19 test.
The facility had quarantined all medical and hospital staff that came into contact with the patient.
Health City leaders say all necessary precautions to contain the virus have been put in place within the facility.
The hospital has also quarantined staff members’ families who would be at direct risk.
“These individuals have also been tested for the COVID-19 virus, with results to be received shortly. Additionally, the hospital remains closed to new patients for the next two weeks as a virus containment measure,” the statement said.
Chattuparambil said, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), health professionals are still learning about how COVID-2019 “affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others”.
According to the WHO website, illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about one in every five people who catch it need hospital care.
Chattuparambil also noted that Health City is working closely with Cayman Islands Government health officials on daily updates regarding the local COVID-19 situation and will issue further updates as soon as any new information is available.
He advised the public to continue to take all necessary precautions against contracting the coronavirus. The risk can be reduced by implementing personal protective measures, such as frequent hand washing, covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory illnesses and avoiding large social gatherings.
Individuals who develop any flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, runny nose etc., are advised to contact the Cayman Islands Public Health Department at [email protected] or via the flu hotline at 1-800-534-8600.