The COVID-19 Delta variant has been detected through genomic sequencing in the samples of two travellers currently in quarantine in the Cayman Islands, the Health Ministry said.

“Given the prevalence of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom, it was only a matter of time before it was detected in the Cayman Islands,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said in a statement issued Thursday.

He pointed out that it will also be of concern that both these people were fully vaccinated.

”I can report that one is asymptomatic, and the other has only mild symptoms.  They both remain in isolation under the care of Public Health,” Lee said.

The statement added that the unrelated travellers had both been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Health Services Authority earlier this year.

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Delta is the name for the B.1.617.2 variant, a SARS-CoV-2 mutation that was first detected in India in December 2020 and has spread to become the dominant strain in new infections in the United Kingdom and the US.

Lee said for him this announcement “reiterates and reinforces the need to be vaccinated to benefit from protection against serious illness and death, even with these more infectious variants”.

Lee, in his daily COVID-19 results report, also stated three individuals tested positive for the coronavirus, out of 233 tests carried out since this was last reported on Wednesday. The three positive cases were travellers. The statement did not specify if any of these positives were connected to the confirmed Delta cases.

He also stated, in his report, that there have been 96,439 COVID-19 vaccinations given in total in the Cayman Islands. Of these, 49,444 (70% of 71,106) have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 46,995 (66%) have completed the two-dose course.

More on the Delta variant finding

Studies focussed on vaccine efficacy against the Delta variant have found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 88% effective against symptomatic disease, whereas it is 94% effective against the Alpha variant, the ministry statement said.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been offered on a limited basis in the Cayman Islands, was found to be 60% effective against symptomatic disease and 93% effective against hospitalisation.

The studies tracked participants in the UK who were fully vaccinated with both recommended doses.

The chief medical officer said he remains reassured that the Cayman Islands’ testing and quarantine processes greatly reduce the risk of community transmission of all variants of the COVID-19 virus, so there is little risk of the Delta variant spreading to the local community at present.

He outlined precautionary measures that people can take, as the Cayman Islands moves forward, under a phased plan, to safely reopen borders and restart the tourism industry.

“Again, I would say that first and foremost, if you are eligible then you should get vaccinated. Secondly, you can follow the basic precautions against transmission of COVID-19 as recommended by the World Health Organisation including proper hand hygiene, social distancing, limiting your attendance at large gatherings, and wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces,” he said.

Minister of Health Sabrina Turner echoed Lee’s comments.

”I would like to support Dr. Lee’s comments and implore that everyone eligible get vaccinated as a matter of urgency. There are several reasons why it is vitally important that as many Cayman Islands residents as possible get vaccinated, but first and foremost is to ensure their own personal safety against contracting the disease, and also to protect the safety and health of their families and loved ones – as well as the community as a whole.”

Turner emphasised that the border entry restrictions and quarantine measures currently in place are protecting against community spread, but the level of public risk will rise as phased reopening begins.

“We are preparing to gradually reopen our borders beginning in mid-September. While the Government is committed to reopening as safely as possible, there is an element of risk of community spread involved. Guarding against this risk through vaccination is our best preparation ahead of time, and following community health mandates at every step of the way will be essential,” Turner added.

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics remain operational throughout the Cayman Islands, the statement said.

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  1. Why is this worthy of a ‘breaking news’ story? UK cases are rising exponentially but hospitalisation are not anywhere near previous levels- this has been attributed almost uniquely to the Delta Variant and the success of vaccine, respectively.

    I’m not sure what % of incoming arrivals in Cayman per fortnight arrive from UK (on a much bigger plane than CAL 737) but it must be significant given the only other options are Kingston, Miami and La Ceiba.

    So basically 2 travellers from the UK have been found to have been positive…..end of story. Stop scaremongering .

  2. So what about the other people on this flight who pass the swab test but only have to quarantine for 5 days? This is not long enough for them to show symptoms if they were exposed. I never got it that people flying from the UK were exempt from the 10 day quarantine as that is one of the worst countries for the virus. How did they get on the flight in the first place? There needs to be more security in place for people coming from the UK.

  3. Once the two Delta cases test negative, is there any data to indicate they can still pass the Delta strain to uninfected persons who have received both Pfizer vaccinations, and what is the risk level in the case of unvaccinated persons?.

  4. To quote Dr. Lee:
    He pointed out that it will also be of concern that both these people were fully vaccinated.

    ”I can report that one is asymptomatic, and the other has only mild symptoms. They both remain in isolation under the care of Public Health,” Lee said.

    So basically the virus is doing what virus’ do, they mutate and become weaker. The common cold is actually a coronovirus, hence, Covid-19. This is just another excuse of scaring people. what is sad is this will just become an excuse not to re-open to the world. You can see government control on full display. SCARE SCARE SCARE is their motto. Its sad.