Governor Martyn Roper has joined the growing chorus of concerned voices as numbers continue to drop in Cayman’s national vaccination programme.

Roper, speaking on Compass Media’s Gold radio 94.9FM morning show with Doug Dodds, lamented the drop in numbers.

“I think we only had 160, 170 people coming forward for the first dose after we got the resupply from the UK,” he said, as he stressed the importance of dealing with the decline in jabs.

Last week Premier Wayne Panton urged residents to get vaccinated.

Cayman, Roper said on Tuesday, is in a very good place because 68% of people have come forward for a first dose which “if you compare that internationally, that is a very high rate.”

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However, Roper said the numbers are dropping and that is not a good sign for any reopening plan the government has in mind.

Governor Martyn Roper. Photo: GIS

“I think it has really slowed down, which is a concern. I was hugely grateful to the government who launched a huge campaign when we had the concerns about wasting some of the supplies from the UK previously, we managed to resolve all that. But I do think we’re going to need a renewed effort now to get more jabs in arms,” Roper said.

Cayman is set to receive another shipment of vaccines next week from the UK.

Vaccination key to reopening

The governor said government is working on its reopening plan and he said it may be released later this week.

However, he said for any plan to work, a sufficient number of the population has to be vaccinated.

“The absolute key is to get more jabs into arms and the closer we can get to 80% of the entire population the sort of more confidence we can have that we can open up safely. That is the key thing now… for everyone in the community is for those that haven’t come forward for those jabs to please come forward to protect yourself and to protect everyone in the community,” the governor said.

One positive case remains hospitalised

On Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee, reported that 685 COVID-19 tests were carried out since his last report on Friday and one returned a positive result.

That positive case was found in a traveller. Cayman’s overall confirmed COVID-19 cases now stand at 615, 609 of which are fully recovered.

Four cases remain active, one of whom remains hospitalised. The three others are asymptomatic.

To date, 94,093 COVID-19 vaccinations have been given in total in the Cayman Islands of these, 48,665 (68% of an estimated 71,100) had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and approximately 64% have completed the two-dose course.

Roper acknowledged there is continuing scepticism by some in the community about vaccinations, but he pointed out that over three billion people have been vaccinated around the world.

“There is a huge body of evidence now that these vaccines are safe, these vaccines protect you from serious illness and death,” the governor said, adding it may not stop contracting the virus totally but as shown in the UK the vaccines “have broken that link between serious illness and the virus”.

Roper said he hopes very soon Cayman will be able to verify vaccines from the US, European countries and Canada as there is work underway on that.

“But eventually we want to be able to remove quarantine because that’s the way we will some sort of tourism back, but again, the key on that is the vaccine. Because if we get can get as close as possible to 80%, the government can take those measures and take them with the confidence that people are going to be safe,” Roper said.

Government, Roper said, is absolutely focused on ensuring the health of everyone on the island is uppermost in their minds, “but we have to move forward.”

He said he supports, if government chooses to mandate it, work permit holders being required to vaccinate against the virus.

“I think that’s perfectly reasonable. We have to protect the people of the Cayman Islands and we need to ensure that people coming in have been vaccinated,” he said.

The governor said there is a discussion underway about whether government should insist on vaccinations for work permit renewals.

“Personally I would support that,” Roper said, adding, “we have to recognise that if people are invited to Cayman to work then they also have a responsibility to protect the wider community and if the vaccine is the way to protect the wider community, then it’s absolutely fair and reasonable that everybody have the vaccine.”

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