Isolated student taken to hospital

Buses line up at the airport to take returning students to isolation units
Buses line up at the airport to take returning students to isolation units

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Health officials have said a student who returned this week and was staying in one of the isolation facilities provided by government, is currently under investigation for a viral illness.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriquez confirmed this to the Cayman Compass Saturday afternoon through Government Information Services.

The student in question was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital for assessment Friday evening, GIS confirmed.

In a statement Saturday, GIS said the student was taken to hospital by ambulance.

Officials declined to provide any further information on the student’s location, citing patient confidentiality.

“All medical staff and vehicles in contact with the student have taken necessary precautions to prevent onward transmission of any infectious condition. Appropriate contact tracing will take place in any case deemed necessary by Public Health,” the statement said.

The students at the isolation facility, the statement said, were screened prior to departure from the airport and they are in regular contact with medical professionals while they remain in isolation.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee spoke of the importance of the isolation facilities.

“I am reassured that the protocols we put in place are robust and this situation reminds us exactly why these isolation facilities are a necessary step in our efforts to protect the public. We are trying to keep all persons, especially the vulnerable, safe by limiting their exposure to any arriving passenger from a high-risk area. I would like to wish the student all the best for recovery,” Lee said.

As of Friday, Cayman had three confirmed cases of COVID-19. The first case was an Italian man who came off the Costa Luminosa cruise ship with a critical cardiac condition.

He died last Saturday.

Two medical staffers, who treated him at Health City Cayman Islands, have tested positive for coronavirus.

A total of 88 samples have been tested; 81 have returned negative results. The tests were conducted locally and have to be confirmed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

On Friday, Lee, under the powers of the Public Health Law, mandated self-isolation for all returning residents, including students.

They have also been advised to alert Public Health immediately if they develop any symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Lizzette Yearwood, CEO of the Health Services Authority, said that all calls are being treated with importance.

“I would like to reassure you that all measures are in place to care for your family members at this difficult time. Any calls from them are taken seriously; we will triage and care for them as the need arises,” Yearwood said.

Lee, in a further statement, said government has been increasing its measures to protect the people of Cayman by a staged reduction in travel and deterring people from gathering.

“These are absolute key ways to suppress the transmission of the COVID-19 causing virus, so please, do not gather together except as a household. We will learn more about exactly how COVID-19 transmits itself as time passes,” he said.

Lee explained that the information and studies on COVID-19 grow by the day, and so does the understanding of the virus .

“The advice that I have been giving is that shared by national public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control in the USA, Public Health England and the World Health Organization,” he added.

He pointed out that of serious concern is the possibility of asymptomatic transmission of the virus, which would allow it to spread from person to person without anyone knowing. In particular, children are likely to be able to transmit the virus without any symptoms as they do not seem to be so much affected, Lee said.

“I believe that caution is the right way forward and urge the public to keep their distance from people and practice hand hygiene whilst we learn more about this disease and how best to suppress its spread,” he added in the statement.

Anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms is reminded to self-isolate at home and call the flu hotline on 1-800-534-8600 or 947-3077. More information is available at gov.ky/coronavirus.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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