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HE the Governor’s remarks at Press Conference – 9 September

My first thoughts on hearing the news that we have local transmission of Covid was of course concern for the people who have tested positive for this very nasty virus. I wish them a very speedy recovery and send them thoughts and prayers from Lissie and me. I want to thank everyone involved in our response from all of the healthcare professionals and emergency responders, but also from the Civil Service who quickly acted to ensure the necessary protocols were followed immediately.

We all expected community transmission at some point, but of those tested so far all contacts of the two positives were negative which is encouraging and reassuring.

As we’ve heard, a thorough investigation is now underway to pinpoint the route of transmission. I want to thank the Police Commissioner for his update on suspected quarantine breaches. It is clear that many of these involved  members of our community visiting friends and family – visiting travellers in quarantine, rather than travellers themselves deliberately leaving quarantine.  However it has come about this should be a wake-up call to us all, that whilst quarantine measures remain in place, and as we try to get as many people as possible double jabbed, everyone please must respect the rules. There are cases coming to court next week. Breaches will be prosecuted where there is evidence.

Now though, as we accept the reality that Covid has returned, we need to remind ourselves of the simple steps we must all take to minimise the risk of us catching or spreading the virus. Getting vaccinated is the number one priority. Please get your jab. It may not stop you getting Covid but it will for the large majority of people stop you getting seriously ill or dying. We only have vaccines left for 3000 people. They expire at the end of October so now is the time to come forward for your vaccine.

We should all continue to practice regular handwashing, not touching our faces, and wearing face coverings where appropriate, as well as maintaining social distancing. For the next 24 hours or so, it may be best to avoid large gatherings. 

I know that many of you who came forward for your vaccine early in our rollout programme are eagerly awaiting news on if and when we will be offering you a booster. It is excellent news that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has today granted emergency approval for Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines to be used as booster shots. We hope to get a green light very soon from the UK Government to start a booster programme.

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation recommended last week that those with weakened immune systems should be offered a third jab. They were meeting again today to consider all of the available scientific evidence to inform their decision on whether there should be a broader booster programme and if so how widespread that should be. The British Government is expecting to receive their advice in the coming days. I’ve said before that we would be given sufficient vaccine for a matching booster programme, but that we may push to go even further given our very low levels of community transmission and the immunity that infection brings.

Despite the worrying news of community transmission I want to reassure you all that, thanks to the vaccine, Cayman is in as safe a position as anywhere in the world, with a good level of vaccine uptake, coupled with excellent medical facilities and surge capacity if we need it. So let us not panic. Our response to this news needs to be calm and measured. But for those of you still choosing not to be vaccinated I implore you now to rethink. For your wellbeing and for the sake of others that care about you. Every life is precious and we want you to have the best possible chance of surviving should you become infected.