Participants in Cayman’s test run of its electronic monitoring and geofencing technology are being subjected to 24/7 monitoring and regular random check-ins, officials have confirmed.

Tasha Ebanks-Garcia, deputy chief advisor in the Office of the Deputy Governor, speaking at Friday’s COVID-19 briefing, explained that monitoring and random check-ins are part of government’s testing and assessing of the iMSafe technology to be used for the phased border reopening which starts 1 Oct.

She said an eight-member team, headed by Customs and Border Control, is monitoring the 29 passengers from the British Airways flight who were selected for the trial run of the home-isolation initiative last Thursday. Those passengers were given wristband monitors upon departure at the airport.

“This testing over the next couple of weeks is to determine what level of resourcing we need and also to give us some time to acquire that resourcing. This team is testing out the protocols that have been developed and the processes that have been developed. In addition to responding to alerts, they’re doing random checks of homes to check in with families,” she said.

The check-ins will serve as a compliance mechanism, and will also to offer support to participants.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said Friday that Cayman will be using PCR testing of arriving passengers, which is still the most effective detection of the coronavirus.

He explained that electronic dashboards have been set up for each electronic device, which are being monitored by the surveillance team.

Ebanks-Gracia said the 911 call centre is also a component of the monitoring regime.

A team of mobile compliance officers will respond to any non-law-enforcement-related alerts from those being monitored, while police will respond to law enforcement alerts, she said.

Last week, coupled with the launch of the testing phase, government issued new regulations for home isolations that included a criminal offence for quarantiners allowing guests/visitors. The offence attracts a $1,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment.

The surveillance team, Lee said, is not medical and will be monitoring the output from the electronic wristbands through the dashboard. Public-health officials will also be doing checks.

He said training on the COVID protocols is also being done for all those who will be involved in the reopening procedures. Only contactless delivery of food or supplies will be allowed for those home isolating.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said a traveller support team will check in with participants via phone and are standing by to receive calls from travellers should they have any questions or problems.

“In addition to conducting testing with travellers off the 17 Sept. BA flight, testing of the interaction of the iMSafe device with the alert-handling infrastructure is also being conducted with participants who are not travellers, i.e., civil servants and others working with the September testing team,” he said.

A variety of types and locations of accommodations was chosen to help test how robust the technology is under different circumstances, he said.

Ebanks-Garcia said the actual geofencing of locations were done onsite upon arrival at the isolation accommodation.

While some properties may have beach access, they would not be permitted to go there, but pool access is allowed.

The test phase process

McLaughlin outlined what the process involved Thursday for the electronic monitoring trial run passengers. He explained that pre-selected participants were identified based on established criteria, from travellers approved by Travel Time to travel on the BA Flight.

Once they had been processed at the airport, all those selected for the home-isolation trial left Owen Roberts International Airport for their approved home isolation in authorised taxis.

“Taxi drivers were given the location of the isolation and were advised to take travellers directly to their location, making no stops on the way. All travellers reached their home isolation location, the monitoring team was alerted and the geofence was established. The monitoring team is alerted if someone leaves their isolation location,” he said.

McLaughlin said the iMSafe technology solution, developed by Tracesafe, has been procured for the testing programme and the October pilot.

“iMSafe is marketed as a complete, intuitive solution for self-quarantine management and has been used in Hong Kong as part of their COVID-19 strategy,” he said.

This includes a light-weight hypoallergenic hospital grade wristband, a mobile application for users, and a web dashboard for the monitoring station.

It provides automatic location monitoring and reporting, giving alerts and notifications to authorities for efficient quarantine management.

Some of the key components of the iMSafe system includes a smart wristband that wirelessly communicates over Bluetooth low energy and associates the traveller to the custom mobile application; a HUB, an Android or IOS phone, that transmits information from the smart wristband to the mobile phone and then to servers which continuously analyses data received and triggers alerts and notifications; and a monitoring station where alerts are received via the web dashboard and processed in accordance with established protocols.

The home-isolation participants are required to wear an iMSafe smart wristband, quarantine in residential or other accommodations approved by the medical officer of health and undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival and again on day 15.

They are to remain in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Once a negative test result is received after that period and is signed off by the medical officer of health, they will be cleared to go out into the community.

The participants were also provided with an information pack that included Quarantine at Residence general information; food, medication and essential supplies purchase and delivery guidelines; useful contacts (e.g., Travel Support Team, flu hotline, prescription refills, supermarkets and restaurant directory; isolation guidelines; information on managing mental health for young adults; and a pen, notepad, thermometer and first aid kit.

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

Subscribe now