The Opposition Leader Speaks on COVID 19 and Border Opening
Hon. Roy McTaggart, Leader of the Opposition
Opposition Leader, Hon Roy McTaggart, speaks to concerns regarding the re-emergence of Covid 19 Community transmission.
Video Link: https://youtu.be/FzEPjPn6uBI
I hope everyone has had an enjoyable weekend despite concerns that COVID 19 has re-emerged in our community. I was at a store on Saturday morning and noticed that many people were wearing masks again and many businesses are encouraging mask wearing. These are early days and we are still to understand the source of the new community spread and indeed how widespread it is. I am pleased that we have not forgotten the lessons that we learned last year as we all worked to eliminate COVID 19 from our Islands, that we are already taking precautions to protect our families, ourselves, and the wider community.
As I said last week the Opposition stand by the Government in supporting the call for those not vaccinated to come forward and be vaccinated as soon as possible. It was therefore gratifying to see the hundreds that turned out at the vaccination clinics over the last few days. I pray that these increased vaccinations will continue.
Today I wish to again highlight several points that I made last week when I addressed the country on Thursday and Friday. Those videos, like all the videos from the Opposition, can be found on the Progressives Website, Facebook page and YouTube Channel.
I have said before the Opposition has an important role in keeping the government transparent and accountable. We also have a responsibility and indeed a duty to help the government to keep the country safe.
Back in June when the Government and the Opposition proposed specific opening dates, the environment was different. The Delta variant, though a concern, was not understood then to be as dangerous as we now know it to be. Three months ago, the United States was having vastly declining levels of COVID 19 but the highly contagious Delta variant has changed that dramatically, and for the worse.
The Wall Street Journal today stated that “COVID 19 deaths in the Delta surge is trending younger in the US” and that while vaccines have protected older people from the worst outcomes, younger people who have not gotten vaccinated are at greater risk.
We also now know that whilst the Pfizer vaccine remains effective against the Delta variant, the protection from the vaccine does start to wane over months. You will still have protection, but increasingly that protection is lessened.
So, I believe that the government need to consider the following:
In June I spoke out against the introduction of a five-day quarantine because this is insufficient time to ensure that the virus is not transmitted in the community. I believe that the government introduced it to encourage more vaccinations. But given the re-emergence of community spread of the virus, it seems obvious to me that such a short quarantine period should be suspended and that we should revert to a minimum of 10 days for those vaccinated. This will help improve our ability to keep what COVID we have now in check.
With vaccinations losing some efficacy over time, there is a great risk that those most vulnerable, including the elderly, who were vaccinated early on will be at risk should we open the borders to tourism next month. And so we need to get a booster shot programme going as soon as we can possibly do so. It was good to hear that boosters will be available for our Islands though we wait to learn when a programme can practically be started.
Lastly, I accept that the statistics reflect that there are very few children who get very sick and need to be hospitalised because of COVID 19, and even fewer who die from it. But when I think of the children in our small Islands, including my own grandchildren, statistics are not what comes to mind. The pain and grief of possibly losing a child is my first concern. And so, as overseas health regulators and others consider the possibility of approving the vaccine for children under the age of 12, there is value in delaying opening up briefly to allow an answer to this to be found. If indeed there is one.
The decision as to how best to open the border lies with our government. They will receive the best advice and at the end of the day the decision will be theirs. I ask that they consider these points that I have raised in their contemplations.
Have a good and safe week ahead Cayman. I pray that God continues to protect and bless our three beautiful Islands
Submitted by: Roy McTaggart, Leader of the Opposition & Political Leader of the Progressives