Leaders’ Remarks at Thursday, 9 September 2021 Press Conference
Remarks by Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton
Thank you for joining us again today for another press conference.
We issued a press statement this morning acknowledging that a local resident had been admitted to the George Town Hospital Wednesday evening showing potential symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Cabinet and Caucus have been receiving regular updates from the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health Officials, which confirmed that the resident along with another member of the household have been confirmed positive with the virus.
Upon learning that none of the individuals who tested positive had a recent travel history, our immediate concern was the potential impact on the community which we soon learned, thanks to the quick work of Public Health, included school aged children. I wish to commend Public Health’s tireless efforts and rapid response to this evolving situation.
Given the close-knit nature of the neighbourhood and families involved, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has secured the area for everyone’s safety and individuals who have been advised to isolate will be fitted with geo-tracking devices from Travel Cayman and monitored by Public Health. I ask that everyone please respect the privacy of the families involved.
I take this opportunity to again reassure the public that this situation is under control.
Throughout the day, Public Health has been conducting interviews, tracing and tracking the movements of the two positive individuals and testing those who came into contact with them.
While you have heard that two students from Clifton Hunter High School reside in the home, both students were removed from their classes this morning, taken home and tested.
Based on the evidence available, we are confident that the students, teachers and staff and bus drivers at Clifton Hunter are safe. The Hon Minister for Education will speak to the guidance we are providing for our schools shortly.
As is the nature with such matters, public health is still developing the picture of the extent of the contacts. Therefore, we anticipate having a more clear and complete picture of the situation tomorrow and we intend to call for another press briefing then.
Thanks to the efforts of Public Health and other authorities since the incident began, we can assure you that everything is being done to keep everyone safe. Our response to this incident was an opportunity to put into practice our plans to deal with our first cases local transmission of COVID-19. I am proud to say that the results so far prove that effectiveness, efficiency, and resilience of our plans.
While this appears to be an isolated incident, there is going to come a point when COVID-19 is in our community.
This incident has also been a real-life reminder that our local context is and will be changing in the near future. We encourage everyone to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and to help you do so, the following have been put in place:
- Additional COVID-19 testing sites in the Eastern Districts
- Additional vaccination clinics (both locations and hours)
Beyond testing and vaccination, I wish to remind you that the flu and respiratory clinics have been reopened and if you have symptoms, the flu hotline is open 24 hours a day for you to get advice from public health while remaining in your home.
When you venture out of home, especially going into enclosed areas with others such as supermarkets, stores, and restaurants or if are interacting with vulnerable people including the elderly, we encourage you to wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been sharing public health safety information through a range of channels including online, radio, print, TV and high traffic areas we all frequently visit – you can expect to see more of that as we amplify our public health safety and hygiene communications as a constant reminder that we must keep working together to protect ourselves, our community, and limit any spread of COVID-19.
Of course, if you haven’t yet already taken the COVID-19 vaccination, this would be a good time to strongly consider doing so.
Out of abundance of caution while we work to identify the source of the transmission of the virus, I also suggest that people not socialise or attend parties or other large gatherings for at least the next 24 to 48 hours or until we have a more definitive answer.
Care for others and compliance with public health safety measures were essential to getting us through the peak of our COVID-19 response and, indeed due to no evidence of community spread in a very long time, our behaviours have shifted and some of our discipline around community health has lapsed. It is time to return to that community-wide vigilance and compliance as COVID-19 is here and remember that it is Community that builds Country.
People of the Cayman Islands, we are going to be fine. The same team of public health professionals, experts, and advisers that brought us through the initial shock of COVID-19 is the one that is taking us through this next phase and those that follow. I trusted them then, and I trust them now. And you should too.
Today was a test run in with real world implications and we let science guide us in taking the necessary steps to protect the safety of our people because at the end of the day it is our people and our residents that are most precious and most important. This PACT Government will do whatever is needed at all times to protect us from the worst effects of COVID-19 and its variants and we hope you will do your part too. Stay safe, Cayman.
Remarks by Minister for Health Wellness, Hon. Sabrina Turner
Thank you for joining us again today.
In light of the new information we have received, I would like to reiterate and reinforce my message yesterday that the Cayman Islands’ healthcare system is fully prepared and ready for any surge in COVID-19 cases in our Islands.
I outlined yesterday what has been done over the past 18 months to ensure that we as a country are in the best possible position to handle a swift increase in COVID-19 cases, should that eventuality occur – despite our best laid plans to prevent and curtail community spread.
I must once again reiterate that the core element of our protection is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine by the majority of our eligible population. We must remember that public health scourges of the past century have been successfully eradicated by vaccines – most notably smallpox and polio, with hundreds of thousands of lives being saved.
First and foremost, if you haven’t done so yet, please get vaccinated.
That being said, I have more that I can share with you today on our local healthcare infrastructure’s state of readiness with regard to COVID-19 and potential community spread.
In light of yesterday’s positive result(s), Public Health deployed a team to conduct contact tracing shortly after the positive result was returned. Contact tracking is still ongoing at this time.
Staff members who had direct contact with the COVID-19 positive patient(s) were placed in 14-day isolation as a precautionary measure.
For some time ahead of the current positive result(s), the Health Services Authority (HSA) has been preparing any reintroduction of COVID in the community as part of its action plan for the reopening of the Cayman Islands’ borders.
Due to the current positive result(s), these plans have been moved forward and implemented a few weeks ahead of schedule.
As of today, the Flu Hotline is available 24-hours for people to call if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms or have any other concerns. To reach the Flu Hotline, please call:
- 947-3077; or
You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The HSA Flu Clinic is also available starting on Monday, 13 September and will be open every week from Monday through Friday from 8a.m. to 4p.m. specifically for people experiencing flu-like symptoms.
This clinic is located at the Cayman Islands Hospital to the far left of the Accident & Emergency department. People attending are asked to park in the Seventh Day Adventist Church parking lot. Directional signage will be available on site.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Respiratory Care Unit (RCU) at the Cayman Islands Hospital has also been reactivated. This Unit is for moderately symptomatic COVID-19 positive patients who do not require ventilation.
I would like to reassure the public that the HSA has adequate supplies, equipment and therapeutics on hand to manage the present situation.
To further protect patients and staff, the HSA will also be enforcing its visitation policy of one visitor per patient per day.
All visitors should check-in at the main atrium information desk and bring a photo ID and face mask. Accident & Emergency visitors should still use the A&E entrance and must also bring a photo ID and face mask.
As part of this safety and prevention effort, face masks are required at ALL HSA locations and this will be strictly enforced moving forward.
Residents coming to HSA locations are asked to please bring their own masks as we need to ensure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are reserved for our frontline healthcare workers.
As you understand from this list of protocols I have just outlined from the HSA, behavioural change and a dialing back of the easing of some restrictions with regard to daily activities is going to be necessary to curtail and prevent further community transmission of the COVID-19 virus at this time.
We must all recognise that changing our behavior and adhering to COVID-19 suppression protocols will be vital moving forward.
A key part of this will be following proper hand hygiene practices, maintaining social distancing, and the wearing of masks if required, as social distancing and thorough attention to hygiene have been proven to be the best form of defence against the transmission of COVID-19.
The following ways have been documented as the most effective measures in reducing the transmission of COVID-19:
- Frequently cleansing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – remembering that hand sanitisers with more than 60 per cent alcohol content are most effective at killing microbes.
- Cough or sneeze in a tissue and bin it. If a tissue is not available, cough/sneeze into your elbow and not in your hands (with or without a mask).
- Stay at home as much as possible, only leave for essential trips.
- Practise social distancing, which means staying at least three feet away from other people who are not members of your household at all times.
- Masks may be used in public but must be accompanied with the other prevention measures listed previously.
As of Tuesday, 25 August 2020, social distancing is not legally required in public spaces in the Cayman Islands. Individuals may or may not choose to practice social distancing as they judge best.
It is recommended to maintain distancing where possible, especially in public places, and consider the use of masks especially for the vulnerable.
If you are indoors, in a public place, businesses may require you to wear a mask or face covering. Businesses have the authority to require any person who visits their establishment to wear a mask and to refuse entry to any person who refuses to do so.
You are still legally required to wear homemade masks or face coverings in:
- health care facilities
- residential home care facilities
- prisons or places of detention
- taxis or omnibuses; and
- any other place specified by the Medical Officer of Health.
When using a taxi, omnibus or school bus, the driver and all passengers must wear a mask or cloth face covering at all times.
Beyond following these proven suppression practices, it is imperative that we all follow and observe quarantine restrictions to prevent unnecessary spread into our community.
Quarantine in an approved location means they must remain in quarantine and abide by all quarantine requirements for the entire quarantine period.
This includes not allowing any visitors who are not a part of your quarantine group, including but not limited to family, friends, maintenance workers, food delivery personnel etc. to enter your quarantine residence.
This means all residents outside of quarantine must also understand that they cannot breach their friend or family member’s quarantine either.
On July 14 2021, Regulation 6A was added to the Prevention, Control and Suppression of Covid-19 (No.2) Regulations, 2021, in order to prevent the removal or passing of items from a person at a place of quarantine or in isolation to anyone from the outside.
These behaviours are legally seen as a breach of quarantine, and are treated just as those in quarantine breaching their quarantine conditions would be.
Please be reminded that any breach of quarantine may result in fines of up to CI$10,000 and/or up to two years of imprisonment.
These regulations are currently being rigorously enforced, and will continue to be.
For many long months in 2020, we as a community responded so well to the often onerous and difficult requirements of a countrywide lockdown.
To avoid this happening again, I implore that we all do our individual part for the collective good, and work to keep our Islands and our loved ones safe in the midst of this ongoing and exhausting pandemic.
If we all work together, and remain focused on our ultimate goal of safely reopening our borders, we will overcome this time of hardship and once again be a thriving community versus a surviving one.
Thank you for your time, your understanding, and your cooperation.