A request for between 50 to 100 Cuban medical professionals has been sent to the Cuban government to join Cayman health care workers in the COVID-19 battle.
Health Minister Dwayne Seymour made the announcement Friday as he updated the country on the Health Services Authority contingency plan in its coronavirus response.
“We sent our request, in terms of the many categories of persons that we would like to secure and how much we would need. Nothing is confirmed there. It’s quite fluid,” Seymour said in response to queries from the Cayman Compass at Friday’s daily COVID-19 press briefing.
Cuba already has dispatched medical staff, including doctors, to Italy and Jamaica to help them in their coronavirus battle.
Seymour said that part of Cayman’s preparedness includes the HSA’s contingency plan to recruit medical staff from new jurisdictions.
“I’m pleased to announce that Cabinet has approved the Health Services Authority as an institutionally registered facility temporarily to employ medical personnel from Cuba in order to increase medical personnel during the COVID-19 crisis,” he said.
Seymour said government and various stakeholders are working to make the necessary changes to allow additional medical personnel to work in Cayman in accordance with the Health Practice Law 2017 revision and “satisfaction of the relevant council”.
“Having the ability to recruit from new jurisdictions will increase the pool of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel where should provide respite to HSA staff who are already working long hours, hard hours to care for patients in our community,” he said.
Seymour said Cayman’s medical staff is “one of our greatest assets throughout this pandemic as they are essential to each and every one of us”.
“I’m proud of the preparedness I’m seeing being carved out at the HSA and in the private sector, and have full confidence that together with the help of government, we will be ready when we need it most,” he said.
As part of the plan, the HSA is also looking at buildings that will serve as shelter hospitals should the need arise.
On Saturday, Cayman Brac recorded its first case of coronavirus.
It was among six positive cases announced by Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee. The new cases took Cayman’s positive cases to 35.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said, on Saturday, the case on the Brac was “very worrying”, especially given the average age range of residents on the larger of the two sister islands.
“Please respect the measures that we are putting in place for the good of the community. Please cooperate. Please practise proper hygiene, social distancing, and let us continue to do everything we can to keep this virus from truly taking whole in this community,” McLaughlin said.
Another COVID-19 press briefing is expected Sunday afternoon at 2pm.