- All 23 new test results tested negative for COVID-19 infection.
- All returning residents are now required to self-isolate or else will be breaching the Public Health Law and are liable for action under Section 24 of that law.
- Rubis cuts prices of fuel by 40 cents while Cayman Water Company offers three-month payment holiday of outstanding bills.
Grand Cayman (GIS) – At today’s daily press conference Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Lee announced that 23 new test results received today came back negative for the COVID-19 infection.
At last count, results were outstanding for 12 tests still underway. Eighty-eight persons have been tested so far, he said.
The CMO announced that a new dashboard on www.gov.ky will provide regular updates on the numbers of cases tested and their outcomes so that people can track the results.
Dr. Lee announced that from today he, as the Chief Medical Officer of the Cayman Islands, requires all returning residents to strictly practice self-isolation at home, or in a government provided facility. If they do not, they will be breaking the law and attracting penalties under Section 24 of the Public Health Law.
Section 24 reads: Whoever refuses or neglects to comply with any direction given by a Medical Officer of Health having as its purpose the prevention, control or suppression of infectious disease, or enters a hospital or other place used for the reception of carriers or persons suffering from an infectious disease, or leaves such hospital or place without the permission of such an officer, or refuses or neglects to comply with any of the requirements or conditions of observation, isolation or surveillance is guilty of an offence.
The penalties are either a maximum of six months’ imprisonment or a fine of $1,000 or both.
He advised those considering flouting the law to be aware of these penalties and follow prescribed protocols by maintaining social distance of three to six feet and more importantly strictly following the need for self-isolation for 14 days, from the day of return to the Cayman Islands from overseas.
Dr. Lee also acknowledged that the drug hydroxychloroquine, currently used to treat malaria, is being looked at by world health authorities as a possible treatment for COVID-19 serious infections. As such, he urged all medical personnel in the Cayman Islands to be responsible when prescribing the drug to ensure it continues to be available and that supplies in the Cayman Islands are not depleted unnecessarily.
He also announced that, in accordance with world health guidelines, pets are not transmitters of COVID-19.
Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin noted the positive news of no new cases coming from China and underscored that stringent measures put in place there to combat the spread of the virus had worked, including restricting people’s movement.
Unfortunately, Italy was now in a worse position with 631 deaths in one day and total fatalities of over 4,000 so far, which is now already higher than seen in the whole of China since December 2019.
Regarding the Cayman Islands, Mr. McLaughlin said “So far, so good! but this has a long way to go and a long way to run. As I’ve said the sheer number of visitors that we have in the course of any week, although all visitors are now prohibited as of yesterday, and the number of returning residents, we are still at real risk for the community spread of this virus. That is why I’ve asked the Chief Medical Officer to refer everyone to that particular provision of the Public Health Law to ensure that everyone who has returned recently takes seriously their obligation to isolate.”
Sharing some good news, he thanked fuel company Rubis for cutting the price of gasoline by 40 cents per imperial gallon and for asking their retailers to pass that on at the pump. This decision was made following conversations with Government and represents support by Rubis to the Cayman community under the current pandemic circumstances.
Mr. McLaughlin thanked Cayman National Bank for offering a three-month payment holiday for those who are struggling with outstanding loan payments.
Additionally, Mr. McLaughlin also thanked Cayman Water Company for agreeing, as the Water Authority has also done, not to disconnect persons with outstanding unpaid bills.
These measures will genuinely help people in the difficult economic times that are likely to run into the foreseeable future, he said, notably self-employed and small local businesses facing a serious downturn in earnings.
He announced that next week he would have a special meeting to hold discussions with Cabinet, and Caucus to which Opposition members would be invited. The aim was to discuss the broad economic issues the Cayman Islands are now facing and how to grapple with them. All are well aware that the global economy will take much longer to reach better times, possibly the end of the year, he added.
While Government is currently well placed with finances due to fiscal prudence practised over the past seven years, he underscored that tourism is in tatters, providing no income and financial services are likely to be affected over time.
So Government needs to plan to make sure that Government is in a position to pay bills and salaries as well as “to do what is necessary to help our people just survive in this difficult time”.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper noted that in the UK, efforts are actively underway to develop a home testing kit for the virus.
After this weekend once commercial flights stop, arrangements might have to be put into place to deal with persons who might have to leave for medical or some other emergency, the Governor said.
Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, Hon. Juliana O’Connor- Connolly outlined a number of measures for students, parents and agriculture practitioners as well as those taken by the Water Authority. (See separate release).
Minister for Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour acknowledged people in the Cayman Islands are not used to such measures that are now in place, including the challenge of online learning. At the same time Mr Seymour stressed that all must follow the restrictions in place to ensure that the Cayman Islands returns to normalcy as soon as possible.
He also announced a new mental health hotline: 1-800-534-6463. There is also a prescription WhatsApp number – 925-6534. This allows patients seeking refills from the hospital pharmacy to take a picture of their prescription bottle or package and send the photo to the above number and pick up the prescription the next day at the pharmacy.
Mr. Seymour announced for persons wishing to access the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) to take the needs test for stipends related to the impact of COVID-19, the numbers to use are 946-0024 on Grand Cayman and 948-8758 on Cayman Brac. Persons could be interviewed over the phone to complete their means test. The NAU can also be reached by email on NAUinfo@gov.ky.
Today’s press conference included sign language interpreter, Ms Carolyn Powell, translating for the hearing impaired.
Premier, Hon. Alden McLaughlin addresses the press conference, Friday, 20 March 2020.