Three more people have tested positive for COVID in community transmission cases, including an unvaccinated person working in the coronavirus screening service at Doctors Hospital, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee confirmed Tuesday.
This brings to 28 the total number of local cases reported since 9 Sept.
Lee said two of the new local cases involve a household that was already isolating as a primary contact in the first recent community outbreak, which Public Health became aware of on 8 Sept.
The third positive person, who Lee said was also related to that case but had not been isolating because the individual was originally known only to be a secondary contact, was isolated Monday.
“This person is not vaccinated and had begun working at Doctors Hospital in the screening service for SARS-CoV-2 around a month ago. The person did not have any symptoms and was screened as part of a weekly programme,” Lee said.
He noted that the Doctors Hospital screenings are run separately to the inpatient and outpatient services, so “it is felt that there is very little risk to any member of the public from the work-related event”.
“In addition, the person would have been wearing full personal protective equipment with any dealings with the public,” he said.
Doctors Hospital is working closely with Public Health to assist with contact tracing and undergoing a risk assessment for the various services it provides, Lee said.
“To me, this really stresses the importance of compliance with Public Health requests to isolate, where people can pop up from where you are not expecting them to be and potentially spread [COVID-19],” he said. “Please do comply with Public Health, not only with when they ask you to isolate but also when they are asking you for information when gathering information around any contact tracing process.”
Doctors Hospital response
In a statement issued later on Tuesday afternoon, Doctors Hospital said the team member who had tested positive had “worked at this one particular testing facility in full personal protective equipment, has not entered the main hospital, nor did they have any contact with core hospital employees”.
The hospital said Public Health was immediately engaged and that contact tracing was completed.
“The team member is in isolation until receiving the all-clear from Public Health,” the statement noted.
It added, “This case indicates that our testing procedures have been working. All of our strictly enforced safety precautions and infection control measures to minimize COVID-19 transmission risk remain in place, including regular, frequent COVID testing for ALL team members regardless of vaccination status or role.”
Doctors Hospital said its COVID testing programme remains uninterrupted.
Addressing the issue of having an unvaccinated employee screening for COVID-19, the hospital in its statement responded that it was “very much supportive of having all staff vaccinated, however, in Cayman, it is not currently mandated by the public health authorities”.
Lee also gave an update on the booster situation, saying that it was having a “soft start” and that Public Health was calling forward “by personal invitation” individuals who are severely at risk.
Next week, he said, he would advise on the rolling out of the larger booster programme, which will initially be aimed at those over the age of 50, and people who are immuno-compromised or otherwise considered vulnerable.
A Government Information Services spokesperson said members of the public should not reach out to the Health Services Authority directly to request boosters, but to wait to be contacted.
The spokesperson added that only people whose second dose of the vaccine was more than six months ago are eligible for a booster shot.