The Cayman Islands has four new cases of the coronavirus, public health officials said Sunday.
Three of those were close contacts of those who were previously identified as positive and the fourth was someone with personal travel history, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee.
He said there were a further 42 negative tests, including 16 from students being kept in isolation at empty hotels.
Lee said health officials were monitoring all of the positive cases, and tracing and testing their family members.
All those who test positive are required to isolate for 14 days and must test negative before they are released from quarantine.
Cayman now has a total of 39 positives, including one on Cayman Brac which reported yesterday.
Lee said it was a criminal offence for anyone who tests positive, not too isolate.
“If you have been asked to quarantine, it is not a request, it is a requirement,” he said, “and if you breach that, you can be subject to charges.”
He accepted it was possible that several more people in Cayman had contracted COVID-19 and had not been tested because their symptoms were mild.
He said this was certainly true in China and Europe, but added, “We feel, in Cayman, we have a fairly good handle on it as we brought in strong measures early on.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin said it was concerning that the number of cases continued to grow each day.
He said, “The only certain way not to get the virus is to stay home.”
Meanwhile, the Health Services Authority confirmed that Faith Hospital is open and the positive COVID-19 individual in Cayman Brac is not an inpatient within the facility.
The patient was seen in the dedicated flu clinic at the Aston Rutty Centre, which is equipped to treat persons with flu-like symptoms away from the general patient population.
Police Commissioner Derek Byrne clarified at the briefing that swimming is allowed as part of the exercise exemption during soft curfew hours. All other water activities, including snorkeling, are not allowed.
Fishing from the shore or a dock will be allowed during the 90-minute exercise allocation, the premier added later.
Byrne also clarified that exercise was only allowed between 6am and 6pm, despite the hard curfew not coming into effect until 7pm.
Governor echoes queen’s sentiments
Governor Martyn Roper echoed the message of Queen Elizabeth II, who made a speech to all her subjects Sunday, saying the world was suffering through a “once-in-a-century crisis”, and urging everyone to make the necessary sacrifices to get through.
He said, “She spoke about the value of discipline and quiet good-humoured resolve, and thanked those that are staying at home, who may be separated from loved ones and, very poignantly, she said we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.
“So, very much a message of hope that better days will return, but we need to remain united and resolute to overcome it.”
The governor also sent his best wishes to UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to hospital this weekend suffering the effects of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the governor said he had been the victim of a “fake news attack”, which stated that his wife was coming back on the British Airways flight.
The post had suggested that the main reason for the flight was to allow the governor to get his wife home. Roper said his wife was remaining in the UK to look after her elderly parents and highlighted that the plane was bringing in much-needed medical goods, including 1,700 COVID test kits.
It will also allow Bermudians and Caymanians to return to their islands, as well as evacuating residents in those territories who need to get back to the UK.
The Cayman Islands is operating under a fluctuating soft and hard curfew to contain the spread of the virus. The hard curfew, now in place from 7pm to 5am and all day Sunday, limits movement to essential workers only.
The soft curfew restricts movement during the daylight hours while allowing people limited freedom to visit the supermarket or pharmacy or to exercise.
As of next week, further limits will be imposed. Anyone with the surname beginning A-K will only be allowed to go to the supermarket, bank or gas station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The L-Z group will be able to do the same on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Exceptions are made for 90 minutes of exercise, which is still allowed every day except Sunday, as well as for trips to the pharmacy or medical facility.
From tomorrow (Monday), police will have the power to issue on-the-spot tickets for breaches of the soft curfew. Penalties range from $250 for failing to maintain six-feet social distance in a public space, to $500 for supermarket shopping outside of people’s allotted day, and up to $750 for opening a business without exemption.
With reporting by Reshma Ragoonath