Governor: Quarantine breach prosecutions ‘complex’

From left, Finance Minister Roy McTaggart, Premier Alden McLaughlin and Governor Martyn Roper at the 10 March press conference. - Photo: Alvaro Serey

In the wake of a fresh quarantine breach this week and a lack of convictions for the offence since last year’s high-profile sentencing of Skylar Mack and Vanjae Ramgeet, the governor stressed it was important to let the legal process “run its course”.

Governor Martyn Roper addressed questions in the 10 March press conference relating to quarantine breach prosecutions, the reintroduction of the travel corridor to the UK and the possibility of Cayman obtaining a small number of AstraZeneca vaccines. Photos: Alvaro Serey.

Speaking at Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference, in which it was announced the mandatory quarantine period will be reduced to 10 days from 22 March, Martyn Roper said it was crucial to let the “independent judicial process” play out when it comes to pursuing quarantine breaches in the courts.

“The police will prepare any cases and they will go to the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide if it proceeds to court; we have to let that process operate in an independent way. All I can say is that a lot of these cases are quite complex and you have to have the right information to be able to move forward,” Roper stated.

He added that the lack of community COVID-19 transmission was testament to the efficacy of the “processes and systems to protect people from people coming in from overseas”.

Roper added he believed “if there is clear evidence to prosecute someone, I have every confidence the authorities will do the right thing”.

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The first quarantine prosecution was of a couple who were fined $1,000 each for multiple quarantine violations in November. Since then, several breaches have been investigated, including one on Cayman Brac, although no one has been sentenced since Mack and Ramgeet in December 2020.

Reinstating the travel corridor to the UK

Responding to Compass questions about plans to revisit the travel corridor arrangement between Cayman and the UK, the g overnor said he believed that would again happen, but not “at this particular moment”.

He explained, “It depends on what happens in the UK. The news on that is good at the moment, it’s going in the right direction. I imagine that [reinstating the corridor] will happen, but not at this particular moment”.

Plans for ‘small number’ of alternate vaccines

Announcing the timeline for the arrival of more than 100,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses in total to Cayman, the governor also set out plans for his office to support a small number of persons seeking the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It’s a very small number of people who’ve said they, for medical reasons, would rather have AstraZeneca instead of Pfizer, because they are different types of vaccine, so we will obviously try to support that,” Roper said.

Details of those plans were not available “at this stage,” he added.

The main difference between the two vaccines is in delivery. The Pfizer jab is an mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) vaccine, which uses the genetic sequence for the proteins that make up the spikes on the surface of the virus. These spike proteins are what enable the virus to be transported into the body’s cells. By producing spike proteins that do not contain the virus, the vaccine allows the immune system to produce antibodies and active T-cells to respond to future encounters with spike proteins, including ones that may be transporting the virus.

The AstraZeneca jab uses an adenoviral vector, which uses an altered version of the common cold virus including DNA for the COVID-19 virus. In the body, this produces the spike proteins which trigger a response from the immune system.

Other differences between the two vaccines include cost and storage requirements, with Pfizer supplies requiring storage at -103 degrees Fahrenheit (-75 degrees Celsius), whereas the AstraZeneca vaccine can be maintained at between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit (between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius).

According to the BMJ, the AstraZeneca vaccine also costs less, although this varies from country to country.

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