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The Cayman Islands may have its first case of community transmission of the coronavirus.
Health officials said at a press briefing Tuesday morning that a case had come back positive for COVID-19 for a patient at the Cayman Islands Hospital who, on preliminary investigation, appeared to have no recent travel history and had not been in contact with anyone who had been overseas.
The officials added that a public health team was being sent to the patient’s house Tuesday morning to conduct further investigations.
All 14 Health Services Authority staff that came into contact with the patient have now been placed in isolation along with their close contacts.
The patient’s family has also been put in isolation and all will be tested for the virus.
Asked if this was the first case of community transmission of COVID-19, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, medical officer of health at the Health Services Authority, said further investigation was needed but there was “no link to this patient with anyone with a travel history”.
He said no other patients had direct contact with the impacted person, but everyone on the same ward had been advised of the development.
Dr. John Lee, Cayman’s chief medical officer, said the patient was being cared for at the hospital for a separate medical complaint.
He had shown no symptoms of the virus and was only tested because consideration was being given to transferring him to the US for further treatment.
“On the basis of that, the test was done because the US won’t accept people without a COVID test,” he said.
“The patient is entirely well from a respiratory point of view.”
The positive result still has to be confirmed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency. There have now been six confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Cayman Islands, including one death.
Dr. Lee said medical practitioners and the heads of any family units have a duty under the Public Health Law to advise authorities of any suspected cases of the virus.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour added that more medical supplies were arriving.
“I am told additional ventilators have arrived, I am told we have hundreds of thousands of masks and more on the way. We will give support in whatever way we can to save every person in the Cayman Islands.
“The goal is to minimise serious illness and overall death, and minimise societal disruption.”
Health City cases
Cayman has been on high alert since the death of a 68-year-old visitor on 14 March from complications associated with the virus. The victim, an Italian tourist from the Costa Luminosa cruise ship, who was initially taken to Health City after suffering a heart attack, was Cayman’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Two medical staff who treated him later tested positive for the virus. Two more people connected with Health City have now been confirmed to have COVID-19.
One of those patients was a staff member and the other was another patient who shared a ward with the Italian visitor.
The latest confirmed case brings to six the number of people whose tests have returned COVID-19 positive results in the Cayman Islands.
Lee said the signs were that all the patients associated with Health City were “getting better”.
The hospital released a statement later on Tuesday confirming that one of its patients had tested positive for the virus.
Though it was originally thought that only 30 people from Health City were being tested, that number has now risen to 78. There are currently 31 tests pending, with 43 negative and four positive tests, as well as the original case.
All other intensive care unit patients tested returned negative results for COVID-19, according to the statement.
Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, clinical director of Health City Cayman Islands, said in a statement, “We are of course disappointed that one of the ICU patients being treated at the same time as the first COVID-19 positive patient has also returned positive results. The patient has been quarantined since March 12 and has been treated in medical isolation receiving the highest level of care. Thus far, the patient is doing well.”
Chattuparambil said the hospital had multiple queries from patients wondering about their level of exposure to the virus.
“Please rest assured that all containment measures have been implemented, and we have acted responsibly in suppressing the spread of this virus from the initial cruise patient,” he added.
He said any person who has had potential infectious contact with a quarantined individual at Health City has already been contacted by the Public Health Department for evaluation and potential testing. He said anyone who had not been contacted was not at risk from infection from the initial COVID-19 positive patient at Health City.
- With reporting by Reshma Ragoonath and Kevin Morales
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