Two new coronavirus cases confirmed

Police and government officials address the public. - Photos:Alvaro Serey

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Health officials confirmed two new cases of coronavirus in the Cayman Islands at a press briefing Thursday.

The two positive tests involved staff members from Health City who were exposed to Cayman’s first coronavirus patient – a 68-year-old heart patient who died from complications associated with the virus.

A total of 30 people from the hospital were tested. All others came back negative.

A further 29 people were tested through the Health Services Authority and also came back negative. All tests will be confirmed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

There are currently seven tests outstanding. All tested patients remain in isolation pending confirmation of the results by CARPHA.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said the patients had not been severely affected in terms of symptoms.

He said all those that were being tested had been in isolation and he was reassured that there was no current evidence of community transmission.

He said the case involved two people directly exposed to a traveller and did not qualify as local transmission, which involves cases that arise within the community where there was no evidence of travel or direct contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Dr. Lee added that Cayman was well prepared and the vast majority of people on the island who get the virus would suffer only mild flu-like symptoms. Even if Cayman experiences community transmission he said a section of the population may not get the virus.

The main risk is to the elderly and vulnerable, who can be much more severely impacted, which is why strict measures have been put in place to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Premier Alden McLaughlin warned that Cayman welcomed 2.5 million visitors last year and that Caymanians who had travelled risked spreading the virus.

“It is almost inevitable that there will be further people in this community who will test positive for COVID-19.

“That is why the protocols that we have given about how to change your behavior in light of this global health threat are so important.

“If we are to contain this we have got to start taking the protocols very very seriously.”

He added that Cayman could still avoid the kind of “meltdown” seen in other countries but warned that would only be possible with changed behaviors.

He emphasized again the need for returning passengers to self-isolate for 14 days and for anyone who was in contact with them to isolate also.

Any returning students or essential workers wishing to use the isolation facilities can call a dedicated hotline on 1-800-534-6555 or email [email protected]. Students should call before they get back to Cayman.

Government has organized a scheme to allow returning students to isolate in hotels and school buses were on hand at the airport Thursday to assist with that process.

So far 100 rooms and 200 beds have been reserved for that purpose with the hotel designated as an ‘isolation facility’. A total of 66 students had indicated they would take up the option as of Thursday afternoon and 12 were transferred by bus from the airside of the airport to the hotel, which has not been named, Thursday. Students will get meals, WIFI and accommodation at no cost during the 14-day isolation.

A further five essential workers have so far opted to stay in a separate hotel reserved for workers who want to allow their children or returning family members to isolate at home while allowing them to continue to work.

Governor Martyn Roper said there was no reason for “enormous public concern” as a result of the two new confirmed cases. He said the situation at Health City had been contained quickly and it was encouraging that only two people were impacted.

Health City released a statement later Thursday afternoon confirming two of its staff had tested positive for the virus.

“While we’d obviously hoped that we would have no positive cases, these results are in keeping with the fact that those who tested positive had more direct contact with the first patient who tested positive and was being cared for at our facility,” Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, clinical director of Health City Cayman Islands said.

“While these are not the results we hoped for, we must take heart in that only two out of thirty of the samples from the staff members and their relatives tested returned a positive result.

“This shows that our infection control and containment procedures are as effective as possible given the circumstances. Moving forward we must all remain calm and vigilant in our precautionary measures.”

  • With reporting by Reshma Ragoonath and Kevin Morales

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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  1. Open letter to Dr. Lee,
    Cayman is today at a cross roads. We are one of the very few countries left on the planet capable of containing Covid-19. I am disappointed to learn that the plan to use hotels for returnees is not mandatory. Public understanding of the likely trajectory of this disease here, is in my opinion weak. Home isolation is likely to be poorly done. Unless mandatory and rigidly enforced quarantine is enacted now, I fear the opportunity will be lost, and we will join the billions around the world awaiting the saturation of their health care system and the death of about 2%of the worlds population over many months. Containment here could buy us enough time for a vaccine or effective treatment to be developed. Should anyone doubt this prognosis, please read the Science before posting, it is unfortunately not encouraging.
    We need an army of capable volunteers to trace contacts, educate and enforce isolation…and we need it now. Next week could be too late.