The Cayman Islands has agreed to sell 35,000 of the test kits it procured from South Korea to the Bermuda government.
The Atlantic territory is suffering similar impacts of the coronavirus and was in need of additional tests. Bermuda has had 39 confirmed cases and suffered three deaths.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the Cayman Islands had agreed to sell some of the 200,000 test kits it got from South Korea to its sister territory. Cayman paid US$4.4 million for the test kits, with local philanthropist Susan Olde picking up half the tab.
The premier said Cayman now had more than it required and had moved to help Bermuda in a time of need.
A private jet brought 165,000 of the kits to Cayman on Wednesday morning from Seoul via Alaska. The rest were due to arrive via London.
But McLaughlin said those would now go to Bermuda.
“We have well in excess of what we need,” he said. “We bought 200,000 because that is the smallest amount they were prepared to sell.”
He said where Cayman could help its “brothers and sisters in the Overseas Territories”, it would do so, and sending those test kits to Bermuda was an example of that.
He added that Bermuda Premier David Burt had offered reciprocal support in other areas if Bermuda is in a position to offer it.
“That is how it works. As we say, one hand washes the other,” McLaughlin said.
Speaking at a press conference in Bermuda later on Thursday, Burt reiterated those sentiments. He said he had been happy to get a call from his Caymanian counterpart Wednesday with the offer of the tests.
“Premier McLaughlin said he bought all those tests, he knew he would not need all those tests, but that was the minimum order he could provide and we were happy to share inside of that particular load.”
He said the leaders of the overseas territories were in constant contact to share ideas, strategies and access to resources.
“As we are all looking to procure certain items there isn’t a need for all of us to keep working on procuring the same items,” he said.
Though the testing kits are vital and both Bermuda and Cayman now have capacity to begin aggressive testing regimes, he said there were other pieces of equipment, including medical swabs, which are essential to the process and in short supply globally.
“There are certain things we have that we may be able to supply (to Cayman),” he said.
Bermuda is operating under similar ‘shelter in place’ and hard curfew arrangements as Cayman.
Authorities there recently announced three deaths of island residents connected to COVID-19 as well as the death of a Bermudian resident in Panama from the virus.