One of the two people reported as COVID-19 positive on Wednesday was released from quarantine and later had to be recalled into isolation after finding out she tested positive, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee has confirmed.
Lee, in an emailed response to queries from the Cayman Compass on the incident which happened Tuesday, explained, “Due to a miscommunication between interested parties, one person in quarantine left isolation and was subsequently recontacted to make arrangements to continue her isolation, along with all relevant contacts.”
The patient, the Compass understands, was allowed to leave after being tested at the end of her 14-day quarantine, but before the results were received.
Her PCR test later came back positive and she had to return to isolation.
The time period she was out of isolation remains unclear; however, the Compass understands it was for several hours.
“The PCR test in question had revealed a very low level of viral material, and as we now know, these very low levels are of doubtful clinical significance, but we treat them with caution because of the status Cayman currently enjoys,” Lee said.
On Wednesday, the chief medical officer, speaking at the government COVID-19 briefing, confirmed those two coronavirus cases, Cayman’s first in three weeks. Both are travellers who flew into Cayman last month, and they are asymptomatic.
He said the cases were among 86 tests carried out since Tuesday.
Lee, in his response to the Compass on the early release of the traveller, said, “The standards we have in Cayman for releasing our returning travellers are far more stringent than most other countries in the world, and this affords us a great deal of comfort.”
He pointed out that there is no longer any recommendation from the Pan American Health Organization to perform a PCR test after a traveller has undergone a 14-day quarantine period.
“As we understand, this is partially driven by a capacity issue (which Cayman does not currently have), so we have continued to employ this safety net,” he said.
Public Health, in an emailed response to the Compass on the incident, said that it “has done the necessary tracing and whoever needs to be in insolation due to this matter currently is”.
At Wednesday’s briefing, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced that government’s policy for travellers will be isolation for 14 days and testing at the end of that period.
He said government has opted not to pursue the use of BioButtons for Cayman’s phased reopening, which commences 1 Oct.
He said the technology has moved on from those devices and government has decided to use electronic monitoring bands instead, coupled with geo-fencing technology. It will be a device similar to what is used in Hong Kong. A shipment of devices arrived Wednesday, the premier said.
This change in policy will allow incoming travellers to isolate at a venue of their choice, for example at their home once they agree to use the device. If they opt not to wear the band, they will have to quarantine at a government facility, he said.
McLaughlin set a modest target of 800 arrivals for October, and stated that commercial flights will not be allowed – only flights from Cayman Airways and British Airways.