Cayman running low on COVID-19 test kits

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee
Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee

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Lee: Around 100 tests remain as of Thursday

The Cayman Islands is running low on test kits for the coronavirus, public health officials revealed Thursday.

There was positive news with no new cases in the past 24 hours and a further 48 negative tests.

But Dr. John Lee warned the island is running low on capacity to test new suspected cases.

“Its dropping every day,” he said. “It is around 100 in round figures we have left.”

The shortage relates to chemical compounds, known as reagents, used in the testing process.

Lee said the CTMH Doctors Hospital had some on order and would be able to begin testing “quite soon”.

The Health Services Authority also has “several orders out” but with travel restrictions in place around the globe, there is no certainty on when they will arrive.

Governor Martyn Roper said the UK was doing all it could to help and had sourced some of the necessary equipment for the Overseas Territories.

“The question is how to get them here given that the airport is closed,” he added.

He said work on establishing an air bridge between Cayman and the UK was continuing.

With more reagents, Lee said it would be open to Cayman to follow a different strategy and test more people.

“If we were to have the ability, we could think about being more inventive and release people (from isolation) by doing wider testing,” he said.

He added that Cayman’s general healthcare capacity was good. He believes Health City will be able to reopen shortly.

There have been two cases – at Health City and at Cayman Islands Hospital – where large numbers of hospital staff had to be put in isolation after an existing patient tested positive for the virus.

Despite that, Lee said, running out of doctors and nurses was not a major concern at this point.

“The country as a whole has the resources. We have a lot of capacity in healthcare in Cayman so I have every confidence… We haven’t even started to tap on the wider private sector resources as yet.”

Lee said all Cayman’s hospitals were well briefed and had strong protocols in place for infection prevention and control among their staff, if and when they have to treat more COVID-19 patients.

He also expressed confidence in Cayman’s testing lab.

He said there was no longer a requirement to have all local tests vetted by the Caribbean Public Health Agency. Every positive test will still be sent to CARPHA for vetting, along with one in 10 negative tests. Despite one local false negative test, Lee said he has confidence in the local testing and it was not necessary to send every sample to CARPHA.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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