Cayman has eight new cases of COVID-19, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee announced Friday. This brings the total number of local cases to 129.
The latest results come from 467 tests carried out over the past 24 hours.
Lee, speaking at the COVID-19 press briefing Friday, said about half of the total positive test results had shown a “weak” presence of the virus, which he stated seemed to indicate that Cayman’s lockdown period had impacted the virulence of the disease locally.
The chief medical officer said, of the eight new cases, one is a contact of a previously reported case, and the other seven are assumed to be community acquired. All the new cases involve front-line workers, but none are from the construction industry, he confirmed.
Of the total 129 cases, 67 are active – of whom 12 are symptomatic and 55 are asymptomatic – 61 have recovered, and one has died.
Lee also stated that contact tracing had been carried out in relation to three positive cases that have previously been reported on Cayman Brac, and that none of the people who had come into contact with those cases had tested positive. “That’s good news for the Brac,” he said.
The latest statistics come in a week where, for the first time, double-digit positive results were announced, twice – 17 on Tuesday, following a long weekend of testing 1,182 people, and 10 on Thursday following a single day of testing 383 people.
Premier: ‘No cause for alarm’
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the latest leaps in positive numbers were not cause for alarm, as it was to be expected that, as more screening tests are done, more positive results would come to light.
McLaughlin said the positive results were below 2% of the overall number of those tested – 8,426 – “which is incredibly low”.
He added, “There is no spike. There are no clusters being discovered. In fact, … not one person has turned up at a clinic or hospital with COVID-19 symptoms since 27 April. And there are no sick persons in hospital sick with COVID-19.”
The premier stated that while there was no question that there is “widespread community transmission of the virus”, across various demographics, “it is not by any means rampant, the numbers are very, very small.”
Echoing Lee’s comments about the ‘weak’ positive results seen in Cayman, McLaughlin said, “One of the incredible things about this, which I think the scientists will answer at some point, is for some reasons not yet understood, the virus does not seem to be being transmitted readily at this stage, in the Cayman experience, nor are people getting really sick.”
Recalling when the virus was first seen in Cayman, the premier said, at the time “we had some very, very sick people in hospital… We had some people who came close to death, and that’s not occurring now.”
Despite the numbers of local asymptomatic or recovered cases, McLaughlin said the islands could not afford to become complacent. “That is why the government is still continuing with a great deal of caution,” he said.
Since widespread screening of essential workers began earlier this month, cases have been confirmed at a number of public-facing businesses, including Foster’s, Kirk Market and Cost-U-Less supermarkets, Kirk Home Centre and Al La Kebab.
Only 35% of the people tested by the Health Services Authority have activated their online patient portal, through which they will receive their results, Lee said, and he urged people to register and log in to their account. Anyone having difficulty logging in should contact [email protected].
Any positive cases would be contacted directly by public health staff, Lee added.
Sunday soft curfew
The premier addressed confusion regarding what businesses are allowed to open on Sunday, following the lifting of the all-day hard curfew last week.
He clarified that the effect of lifting the Sunday hard curfew effectively meant businesses, such as mini-marts and gas stations, could operate as they normally would under the terms of their Trade and Business Licences, subject to the current shelter-in-place regulations.
However, under the soft-curfew regulations in place on Sundays, members of the public can only travel outside their homes for two purposes – to collect cooked food from a restaurant or to exercise. “It doesn’t permit you to go to the gas station to get gas or to go to the market to buy groceries,” McLaughlin said.
Postal Service resumes mail to US
The Cayman Islands Postal Service has resumed outgoing international mail service, but only to send letters, parcels and registered and express mail to the US, the premier said.
In a press release issued later regarding the resumption of US mail services, Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow cautioned customers not to expect pre-lockdown delivery times for any class of mail.
She said, the US Postal Service, like postal organisations everywhere, is finding it challenging to operate in a COVID-19 environment with reduced staff, social-distancing protocols and self-isolation.
With regards to mail coming into the Cayman Islands, she said that following outreach to international partners earlier this month the Postal Service is waiting to hear what transportation arrangements they will make to get mail here.
CIPS is also continuing to establish transportation links to other countries so that mail can resume to those jurisdictions.
“We make weekly contact with our key postal partners namely, the USA, Canada, and UK to enquire if they are likely to get mail to Cayman Islands this week and discuss what transportation options may be available. We are aware that many residents with family and friends abroad are eagerly awaiting items that have been posted, but are still being held in the country of origin awaiting transportation here,” Glasgow said.
She also noted that Savannah Post Office will open next week, offering counter services to customers. Currently, the only other facility with counter services is the Airport Post Office.
Governor Martyn Roper gave an update on upcoming repatriation flights, the first of which, a British Airways flight to Manila, Philippines, via London’s Heathrow Airport, is scheduled to depart tomorrow (Saturday, 23 May).
The BA flight will be carrying 280 Filipino nationals home to the Philippines.
Cayman Airways flights to Miami have also been scheduled, on 29 May, 5 June and 19 June, according to the airline. Click here for details.
All four flights will be only be taking outbound passengers, as Cayman’s government isolation facilities, in which incoming passengers must be quarantined for two weeks, are full, the governor said.
He added that another BA flight was expected next month, but no date has been confirmed. Anyone who wishes to get information regarding that flight should contact the Cayman Islands Government Office in the UK directly, on +44-207-491-7772 or email [email protected].
The governor also released contact details for people seeking permission to travel to or from the Sister Islands, but reiterated that such travel is restricted to essential personnel or for people travelling for medical reasons. For information on inter-island travel, email [email protected].