Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee has said the true picture of Cayman’s COVID-19 spread remains unknown as testing has been limited by World Health Organisation protocols.
To fix that, he said he intends to open up testing protocols to get a better sense of the virus spread locally.
“My intention is, and we haven’t fully discussed all the plans because we’ve been waiting to get an adequate supply, is that we’re going to relax a lot more who we will test. So that even if you don’t fit the WHO criteria, we will have new criteria and we will loosen up the testing so that we can get a much better picture and, at the same time, also isolate everybody that needs isolation to protect the community,” Lee said on Sunday as he addressed the daily COVID-19 press briefing.
Lee said the fact is no one knows the true extent of how many people have contracted the virus in their country, largely because not enough testing is being done.
“I’m not going to hide the fact that in many countries they are probably not testing as much as they could. So that in China, probably in Europe as well, the figures that are being reported of the people that are positive are not counting the real spread of the condition,” he said.
In Cayman’s case, he said, “we have a fairly good handle on it because we’ve brought in such strong measures to limit movement quite early on”.
“But, I am sure that there are people out there who probably have had mild symptoms or may have had COVID and have not been tested because they haven’t met what we’re using, the WHO criteria,” he added.
As of Sunday afternoon, Cayman had 39 positive COVID-19 test results.
Lee said, despite the fact that most cases seen in Cayman so far have been mild, fighting the virus is not a pleasant experience.
“When doctors say that something is going to be mild, what we’re basically saying is you don’t need to come to hospital, but that in no way means that it’s going to be that easy,” he said.
He said “mild’ coronavirus symptoms in some cases are similar to the flu “with a severe temperature where they’re sweating, their muscles aching, they can’t move, they do not have the strength to get to the bathroom hardly, that’s the sort of thing that you may be facing with this condition if you’re affected with it.”
He said most people will understand that it’s something they can cope with if they’ve had the flu before, which is why he suggests patients have some paracetamol to help lower their temperature and help with some of the aches and pains in the muscles and the joints, and “that’ll help you get through it”.
“Of course, keep well-hydrated – that’s a really, really vital point because you don’t feel like drinking when you’re feeling very sick. So, it’s really important to keep that fluid going so that your kidneys are being flushed out all the while and that you’re replacing all the fluid that you’re losing through perspiration,” he added.
As he outlined what patients have been experiencing, Lee stressed the importance of the message Premier Alden McLaughlin and the panel have been repeating for the last few weeks.
“It is really important that you should stay at home and stay away from other people because that is the thing that is going to save you more than anything else. I can’t stress that enough. We say it every time, but it’s an opportunity for us to stress it again. Don’t meet with people, use your respiratory etiquette. Keep your hands clean and stay at home please,” he said.