The Cayman Islands has six new cases of coronavirus, including the first reported case on Cayman Brac, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee announced Saturday at the government’s daily briefing.
This brings to 35 the total number of cases recorded in the islands.
Lee said four of the new cases, including the one on Cayman Brac, had either travelled themselves or were related to someone who had travelled. The person on Cayman Brac was tested because they were displaying flu-like symptoms and had had contact with a person who had travelled.
One of the six cases was related to a previously reported case and another had no travel history, Lee said.
The chief medical officer was reporting on the results of 46 recent tests, including 27 from government facilities, and 19 from the general public. The remaining 40 were all negative.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the fact that a case had been found on Cayman Brac was of particular concern because the Brac has a large population of elderly citizens.
“The situation in Cayman Brac is hugely worrying. We’ve worried about that from the very start, given the average age of the population there and the fact that Cayman Brackers seem to live longer than those on Grand Cayman. … If this virus gets loose on Cayman Brac, I am afraid there are going to be many, many funerals. So, I urge everyone to please respect the measures we are putting in place for the good of the community,” he said.
“Please cooperate, please practise proper hygiene, social distancing, and let us continue to do everything we can to stop this virus from truly taking hold in this community.”
He added that he found the report of the latest results “very, very alarming, probably on the scale of when we got the first report in terms of my concern about what is happening, particularly in respect of Cayman Brac.”
Responding to a question on when schools may reopen, McLaughlin said every time a new case is reported, “you reset the clock and you push any possible reopening of schools that much further down the road.”
While acknowledging the challenges of home-schooling children during the current lockdown, he warned, “We all know how stressful it is, but believe you me, if we send these children back to school, we’ll wind up with an absolute tragedy here; it’ll be a disaster of proportions we can’t even begin to conceive.”
He urged the public that if they wanted to understand why the Cayman Islands government was taking the measures it was to control the spread of the coronavirus, to “look at any of the news stations”.
On Friday, the government announced a stricter curfew, imposing a new alphabet-based system from Monday through Saturday, and a 24-hour ‘hard’ curfew for Sundays.
The new ‘shelter in place’ regulations essentially place half of Cayman’s population on lockdown each day.
The hard curfew, which restricts movement of everyone other than essential workers, will continue overnight from 7pm to 5am for the next 14 days. It will also be in place all-day Sunday, starting this weekend.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said people were mostly still complying with Cayman’s hard and soft curfews.
He said that on Friday night, one person was arrested for indecent exposure, possession of an offensive weapon and breach of curfew, and a cyclist was also warned for prosecution for breach of curfew. On Saturday morning, two people were found to be in breach of the soft curfew, including a motorist who had tried to flee from police and a person involved in commercial landscaping activities.
The commissioner clarified that approved restaurants would be allowed to make food deliveries during Sunday’s full-day hard curfew, between the hours of noon and 9pm. No food collection or drive-through pickups by members of the public will be allowed on Sunday, he said.
He also stated that no outdoor exercise would be allowed on Sunday during the hard curfew.
He added that no marine activity, including swimming and snorkelling, was allowed during soft curfew hours. However, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour stated that the issue of swimming as an allowed activity was being looked at and would be clarified later.
British Airways flight
More than 150 people are expected to leave the Cayman Islands Tuesday on the emergency flight travelling from London’s Heathrow Airport to Owen Roberts International Airport, via Bermuda.
Governor Martyn Roper, in response to queries from people who planned to board that flight in Cayman on Tuesday, said anyone travelling to the airport should ensure they have their identification and flight information on them, so they could show those if they encounter police checkpoints on their way.
That flight will also bring home returning Caymanians, as well as medical and other vital supplies. The government on Saturday issued guidelines for the returnees, which include mandatory isolation at a facility designated by the Cayman Islands government for a minimum period of 14 days.
All passengers disembarking the aircraft at Owen Roberts are required to wear a face mask. “If passengers do not have their own face masks, a face mask will be provided on arrival in Grand Cayman, prior to disembarking,” the guidelines state.
Once they arrive, the passengers will be screened inside the arrivals hall, and any passenger displaying flu-like symptoms will be given further guidance on site by public health staff.
Direct transportation will be provided from the airport to the designated isolation facility.
“Relatives and friends are discouraged from leaving their homes to wait at the airport as this transfer will occur air-side,” officials advised, adding that telecommunications services are in place at the designated isolation facility so friends and family members can get in touch easily with the returnees.
Additional reporting by Kayla Young.