UPDATE: US shipment of COVID-19 testing supplies arrives

Samples to be sent to CARPHA if supplies run dry

Governor Martyn Roper during a tour of the Health Services Authority laboratory
Governor Martyn Roper during a tour of the Health Services Authority laboratory Friday. - Photo: HSA

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Cayman’s rapidly dwindling supply of COVID-19 testing material received a boost on Saturday as one of two scheduled consignments arrived on island.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez made the announcement at government’s COVID-19 briefing on Saturday.

“We have [received] enough material to test another 480 patients,” he said.

Williams-Rodriguez said 19 patients were tested on Saturday, leaving enough material to run 60 tests, but now that the new shipment is on island, more tests can be run under the protocols outlined by Pan-American Health Organisation and World Health Organization.

Governor Martyn Roper announced Friday that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was also air-freighting supplies for the Overseas Territories, including Cayman.

Those supplies, he said on Saturday, should arrive soon. However, Roper said the US shipment was welcomed news.

“I think the situation on that is clearly a lot better than it was,” he said.

He said on Friday that Cayman, which is the only British Overseas Territory doing local tests, should not have testing concerns.

“I hope that they (the supplies) are here within a week,” he said.

Additionally, CTMH Doctors Hospital is also readying itself to conduct testing and has indicated that it should have a capacity to do 200 tests daily by next week.

On Thursday, Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said that Cayman had roughly 100 COVID-19 testing kits left. On Friday, 15 test results were announced and they were all returned negative.

As of Friday, 190 samples have been tested in Cayman, 181 of which were negative.

On Saturday, Williams-Rodriguez did not have any new test results to share, but he did provide an update on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

He said the Cayman Brac flu clinic saw 13 patients in its first week and the second week it saw six patients.

“Three patients have been tested and I want to confirm that no positive case have been coming from Cayman Brac,” he said.

There have been eight positive tests on Grand Cayman so far.

There has also been one inconclusive test which may be the island’s first case of community transmission – that result is still under review.

A 68-year-old Italian man was Cayman’s first COVID-19 positive patient. He disembarked from the Costa Luminosa cruise ship to get emergency treatment for a cardiac arrest. He passed away days after it was confirmed that he had coronavirus.

On Friday, Lee addressed the number of tests left on island, saying that while supplies are decreasing, Cayman will not stop taking samples.

“We wouldn’t put a pause on them. We would just continue to test as per the protocols, but they would be sent to CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) for analysis rather than be done locally,” Lee said.

While Lee was unable to say how many items were contained in the FCO consignment, he said a substantial amount was expected in the HSA shipment.

“If the one comes through from the States, it will enable us to test, I think, around another 500 tests. So that’s a good consignment. The one from the UK, I don’t know the exact quantity they’re sending, but … they’re slated to be here shortly; I mean, within days rather than weeks,” he said.

On Friday, prior to the COVID-19 briefing, Roper paid a visit to the HSA forensic lab, which has been doing the local testing.

He commended the staff for their dedication and hard work.

Roper said the visit was also to ensure that he understood the testing process himself.

“I think the main message is that, I think, we can have confidence in our testing system, and it’s proven to be robust. Public Health England have reaffirmed that, PAHO, the Americas World Health Organization regional body, has approved it, and it was impressive to see this in operation,” Roper said.

He added that Cayman still remains the only overseas territory that can do testing locally “to the quality that is being done here in the island”.

“So, we should be very proud of all the people who are involved in that,” Roper said.

Premier Alden McLaughlin has also endorsed the testing system and its method of operation.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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