17 new COVID-19 cases reported as restrictions rolled back

Despite new positives, government eases several curfew and shelter-in-place restrictions

Cayman’s COVID-19 tally has increased to 111 as 17 new positive results were reported Tuesday by Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee at government’s coronavirus press conference.

The announcement came as more people were expected back in the community Tuesday with Cayman entering its next stage of reopening the economy.

Fishermen were back in and around the sea Tuesday as restrictions on fishing were rolled back. Photo – Kevin Morales

All 17 newly confirmed cases were found through the screening programme that began three weeks ago. Two people tested positive from Cayman Brac and two were inmates at Northward prison.

Overall, there were 1,182 results reported. Lee also said that 12 people are symptomatic and 43 are asymptomatic. There are currently no patients hospitalised due to COVID-19 and 55 people in Cayman have fully recovered.

“As we open up the economy, please don’t let your guard down,” – Governor Martyn Roper

Governor Martyn Roper encouraged the public to put the numbers in perspective.

“It is over four days and we have to sort of bear that in mind,” he said.

While the Brac registered two positive cases – bringing its total to three – Premier Alden McLaughlin reiterated that the island is in good shape and indicated restrictions will remain eased.

“The assessed risk is much lower for the Brac. In Grand Cayman, there are still significant numbers of people who have the virus,” he said. “It’s not alarming. I think we’re at 1.4% of those tested, testing positive. But it’s not the same in Cayman Brac at all.”

Several retailers on Tuesday were allowed to open their doors for the first time in nearly two months as part of government reopening the economy. Some in the construction industry were allowed to return as work as well. Also on Tuesday, beaches were reopened for exercise only and fishing was once again allowed in Grand Cayman.

However, Roper warned, “As we open up the economy, please don’t let your guard down.”

Flight to Philippines sold out

Roper confirmed Saturday’s scheduled British Airways flight from Grand Cayman to Manilla, Philippines, has been sold out. The flight will transit through London.

He said his office continues to try to organise other flights as well.

“We continue to work on BA airbridges, as I said last week,” Roper said, adding that there will be Miami flights scheduled as well, although no date as been set for either the Miami flight or the airbridge to the UK. These will be out-bound flights only and no passengers will be allowed to travel into Grand Cayman on these flights as the government isolation facilities are at capacity.

He said there has been “no progress” on flights to Jamaica and Nicaragua.

Legislative Assembly resumes 

Lawmakers are set to return to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, the premier said.

A number of key pieces of legislation relating to the Financial Action Task Force and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force reports will be debated in the House.

The upcoming bills include the Stock Exchange Company (Amendment) Bill, the Monetary Authority (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, the Virtual Asset (Service Providers) Law, 2020 and the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.

Security team remains isolated after ‘borderline positive’  

Roper confirmed Tuesday that one member of the 12-person team visiting Cayman from the UK to assist with Cayman’s COVID-19 battle and hurricane preparedness tested “borderline positive” for coronavirus.

The team of nine military personnel and three civilians includes medical planners, logistics experts and security advisors, Roper has previously said.

The team was isolated upon entering Grand Cayman and will remain quarantined for approximately 10 more days due to the positive result.

Airport not likely to open by September

Responding to a question from the press, McLaughlin confirmed that Owen Roberts International Airport would not open before 30 August.

However, while that technically means the airport could reopen as early as 1 Sept. to international flights, the premier stressed that date is a moving target that will depend on the COVID-19 situation in other jurisdictions.

“Given what I and everybody else is seeing in the United States, a September 1 reopening date is not looking good,” he said.

“If the virus continues to rage around us, how can we open our borders?”

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  1. Considering Cayman has enough tests to test the entire population and the population is a manageable number, controlling the virus should be easier than most Countries. During the lockdown, a full islands test program should have been implemented. Isolating immediately those with symptoms and those who are asymptomatic. It shows most Government who had the upper hand, used it incorrectly. Testing early and testing a lot is how you identify those who will aid in propagating the virus. Then isolate them, thus suffocating the virus… not shutting people in and hoping to outlast the incubation and transmission phase. This mechanism had NOT worked anywhere!