Members of public can book free COVID tests online

A woman undergoes a free PCR COVID-19 nasal swab test at the George Town General Practice Clinic. The test is available free of charge to all members of the public and can be booked online via the Health Services Authority. - Photo: HSA

From today (17 Aug.), members of the public can schedule their free COVID screening tests online via a new appointment booking system launched by the Health Services Authority.

Testing is by appointment only, which must be made 48 hours in advance, the HSA advised in a press release. Results will be delivered directly to the patient by secure email within about 24 hours, health officials said.

The screenings will be carried out at a dedicated COVID-19 testing clinic at the George Town General Practice Clinic.

“With the economy reopening and people interacting more regularly, it is vital that we continue to screen for COVID-19 so we can safeguard our community,” said Dr. Eryka Simmons, clinical head of General Practice Services at the HSA. “We want to ensure that all members of the public have access to COVID-19 screening so we have been streamlining and improving our processes to make it easier and more convenient for people to book an appointment.”

While the Cayman Islands has not recorded a positive COVID-19 test result since 13 July, the HSA is advising the public of the importance of continuous testing to prevent a resurgence of coronavirus cases and maintain an open economy.

“We encourage people to be prudent and proactive by continuing to practise the international COVID-19 prevention measures such as social distancing, washing their hands, wearing masks, as well as taking advantage of the tests available that screens for the virus and its antibodies,” said Simmons.

The HSA uses the polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 screenings, which is able to detect if someone is currently infected by the COVID-19 virus, and the immunoglobulin (IgG) test that determines whether a person has had COVID-19 in the past and now has antibodies against the virus.

Both tests are available to members of the public at the HSA, free of cost. Anyone can register to be tested for COVID-19 or IgG antibodies as part of the ongoing national screening programme.

A woman has a blood sample taken at the George Town General Practice Clinic as part of an IgG test to determine if she has antibodies that show if she has ever had coronavirus. This test, as well as PCR screening, is now available to all members of the public free of charge and can be booked via the Health Services Authority online. – Photo: HSA

PCR tests are done via a nasal swab, while the IgG antibody test requires a small blood sample.

Widespread PCR testing has been carried out in Cayman since March, and all frontline workers and essential personnel who worked during the lockdown period were tested as a priority. All teachers returning to schools when the new term begins are being tested at the moment.

Testing is now being extended to any member of the public who requests it.

The HSA, in its release, stated that it is also offering onsite IgG antibody testing to organisations with at least 20 persons.

“You could have had COVID-19 and not be aware of it because not everyone who gets the virus shows symptoms. The antibody test will give health officials a better idea of how common the virus has been in Cayman and will provide valuable information for informed decisions,” Simmons said.

Since March, when the first COVID-19 case was recorded, 203 people have tested positive for the virus in Cayman. All have recovered, apart from one man – a cruise ship passenger who died soon after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

There are currently no recorded active cases of the virus in the Cayman Islands.

To self-register for the COVID-19 screening, book an appointment online at www.hsa.ky/Appointment/. To register for antibody testing, email [email protected].

How to book an appointment for a COVID-19 screening:

  • Visit hsa.ky/Appointment/ or click on the COVID-19 Info link on the website
  • Choose the date and time you would like to come in for your test. Appointments must be made at least 48 hours in advance and are available Monday – Friday. The HSA is not accepting walk-ins at this time.
  • Enter your information as all persons need to be pre-registered.
  • You will receive an email confirming the date, time and location of your appointment.
  • The HSA is requesting that persons show up for their appointment on time. The screening process only takes a few minutes.
  • Test results will be emailed to the patient approximately 24 hours after test.
  • Results will also be posted to the patient’s free MyHSA Patient Portal account. For more information on the portal, visit hsa.ky/our-services/patient-portal-info/.

Do I need to be tested?

While testing is not mandatory, it is encouraged, the HSA stated in its release.

“There is still so much we do not know about COVID-19. The more information we can gather on COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands the better prepared we can be. It is important to continue testing as most persons with COVID-19 did not present symptoms, therefore there is potential of them spreading the virus without knowing,” the release noted.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now