No new cases of the coronavirus, new Miami flight planned

Dr. John Lee, speaking at Wednesday’s COVID-19 press briefing.

There were no new cases of the coronavirus from the latest batch of tests, Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said Wednesday.

There were eight tests completed and all came back negative, he said.

The Cayman Islands Hospital lab has been going through scheduled maintenance so there is a backlog of tests to process.

Lee said 150 samples were going through the testing process Wednesday and a further 700 were still pending.

Around 80 of those will be prioritised, including 50 from arriving passengers on the British Airways flight that brought residents back to the island from the UK two weeks ago. There are also around 30 tests from people who had possible symptoms of COVID-19 in the priority batch.

The rest are considered “screening tests” of people who are not believed to been infected.

There have been 66 positive cases in total out of 786 samples tested so far.

Only five people have been reported as “fully recovered”, though that is expected to increase in the next few days, Lee said.

He said some people were awaiting their “exit tests” and those were going through the system.

“There should be a big jump shortly,” he added.

Governor Martyn Roper said the number of cases in Cayman were still encouragingly low and there were now very few people reporting symptoms to the flu clinic.

He said there was still great uncertainty about the virus but the signs were encouraging that Cayman’s cautious approach was working and that consideration could be given to loosening restrictions soon.

More flights

The governor also announced another Cayman Airways evacuation flight to Miami is planned for 1 May at 10:30am. That flight will not bring in anyone from the US as Cayman’s isolation facilities will be at full capacity once Tuesday’s British Airways flight comes in.

Cayman Airways, in a press release, stated that one-way tickets for the Miami flight will be available for purchase as of Thursday, 23 April, and can be purchased online at www.caymanairways.com or by calling Cayman Airways Reservations on 345-949-2311 or 1-800-422-9626 (toll free in the USA) between 9am and 6pm weekdays.

The British Airways flight will arrive in Cayman on Tuesday, 28 April, with some returning residents on board. It will go back to London via Turks and Caicos on Wednesday, 29 April. Details are available at www.otairbridge.com/trips/london-repatriation.

Pets can be accommodated on the outgoing BA flight if passengers co-ordinate with the governor’s office.

Roper said talks were continuing over more potential evacuation flights to four or five other countries in the region.

“I want everyone to be aware that remains a very high priority for my office,” he said.

He added that there were difficulties organising flights to certain countries, including India, which has closed its borders to any arrivals, even its own nationals.

Pension access not for anyone who left Cayman before 1 Feb.

Premier Alden McLaughlin reported that the Legislative Assembly had met and agreed to change its rules to allow for a virtual meeting on Thursday, when legislation, including a bill to allow people emergency access to their retirement savings, will be considered.

However, that will not be open to people who left the island before 1 Feb.

The premier said, “If they left the island before February 2020, they are not entitled to participate in this process.”

He said during Wednesday’s COVID-19 press briefing that access to pension savings was only open to people living in the jurisdiction. It was not clear initially if people that had left the island on evacuation flights in the past few weeks after losing their jobs would be entitled to access their savings.

But, the premier confirmed to the Compass later Wednesday that it was the government’s intent that anyone who had recently left the island would be able to take advantage of the measures.

The draft legislation indicates, “Only persons who are presently in the jurisdiction or persons who left between 1st February 2020 and the expiry of the Law (currently 30th November 2020), will be permitted to make a withdrawal.”

The bill, to be debated Thursday, envisages that account holders in Cayman will be able to access a lump sum of up to $10,000, along with 25% of the rest of their account.

Details of the bill are subject to change pending the input of legislators in the debate.

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