HSA plans flu clinic to manage coronavirus response

| 03/02/2020 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee at press conference on the coronavirus outbreak

(CNS): The Health Services Authority is preparing a separate flu clinic at the hospital to help it manage and treat any influx of people infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or other respiratory illnesses, as the latest flu-like virus spreads around the world. At a press conference on Monday, officials said Cayman has no confirmed cases so far but is well placed to manage the arrival of any infected individual and has plans to contain any spread locally.

The virus is now spreading very quickly, with the estimated number of people infected increasing to around 17,000 in 25 different countries, including 15 in the US and Canada. It is not clear exactly how many people have died, but China is reporting at least 360 deaths, and one person in the Philippines has become the first to die outside of China.

The death toll has exceeded that of the SARS outbreak in China in 2002, but the rate of morality remains relatively low at under 2%.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee from the health ministry said it is not as serious as past pandemics, but noted that around 15% of people infected do become severely ill.

Although information from the World Health Organization is constantly updated, there are concerns that while the virus is not particularly deadly for people not already suffering from compromised immune systems or with existing respiratory problems, it appears to be spreading very quickly.

Government here has set aside an additional $1 million in the health budget to ensure that it can cope with patients. However, Public Health Medical Officer Dr Samuel Williams said that the hospital is in the middle of flu season and expects that the majority of patients presenting with coronovirus-like symptoms are more likely to have seasonal flu.

While the WHO has declared a worldwide health emergency the death rate remains relatively low. According to WHO, up to 650,000 people die of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year.

Screening and sharing information is seen as the best way to combat the spread. HSA officials are therefore focusing on checking people with travel histories from China arriving in Cayman, and encouraging people to report to the authorities if they feel unwell. Information cards are being handed to every traveller on arrival telling them what to do.

Health Minster Dwayne Seymour said in a statement to the Legislative Assembly on Friday that government would do everything it could to protect the borders and its people and was in communication with regional health experts. He said the National Security Council will meet tomorrow to see if Cayman authorities need to take more protective measures, since some countries, including the US, have closed their border to travellers from China.

For more information visit the HSA website.

See the minister’s address in CNS library.

See press conference below:

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The government needs to take concrete steps now to tell those coming here from Asia or going anywhere where they have outbreaks not to travel to Cayman or to these areas this foolishness about monitoring and asking people to report themselves is pure foolishness. This health care system appears to be I’ll prepared or unable to cope with any kind of crisis from the back and forth wrangling I see. My confidence in those who responsibilities it is to deal with this pandemic is very low there lethargic like efforts and response is alarming and appear to be suffering from It can’t happen sickness!!! Stop playing with people lives and put the travel band in place now!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dwayne Seymour has been given an additional discretionary KYD$1,000,000, for one (1) room at HSA, for the best quarantined contagion in human history, almost non-existent in this continent…that’s 11.1% more than all the money spent annually on inpatient mental health ($900,000).

  3. Anonymous says:

    The latest numbers show over 20,000 cases globally. The ultimate morbidity and mortality rates cannot be known at this stage. So far the disease has run its complete course in approximately 1152 patients. Of those 427 are dead. That is 37% dead not 2%. The government needs to be honest in order to have any credibility. Johns Hopkins University offers a good source of up to date information.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bluntly, you’re cherry picking the info to prove your own argument. How many of the roughly 19,000 cases currently working through the disease are requiring intensive medical intervention? How many of the reported deaths involved other factors, particularly pre-existing conditions? Did the deceased receive any form of proper medical attention before they died? If so how long was it before their treatment commenced and at what level was it? The answer to all those questions is we don’t know and in some ways that’s the scary bit because it’s confusing the picture. About all we can figure out from the available information coming out of China is that it appears the deaths are being caused by treatable conditions like pneumonia rather than the coronavirus itself. If that is the case there is, bearing in mind the issues about the poor levels of health care in Wuhan, a question about whether this is a ‘killer’ disease or simply a very nasty infection that is killing vulnerable people.

      • Anonymous says:

        Simple reason for the lack of reliable info – money. This is now at least the fourth major flu-related infection to come out of China. Their economy is dependent on a multi-million dollar export trade. If the rest of the world puts the country in quarantine that stops and the country will go belly up. What happens then – their corrupt leadership gets kicked out, probably by the military.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bluntly, your post has all of the sensitivity to vulnerable Caymanians and residents with pre-existing conditions that I would expect from someone in government acting in CYA mode. Clearly what has been done by government so far is woefully inadequate at best.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There are now cruise ships with thousands of people on them quarantined in Italy and Japan because infected passengers were asymptomatic when they initially boarded. Cruise ships are incubators for viruses including Norovirus and Coronavirus. Asymptomatic infected persons get on cruise ships and can then infect hundreds if not thousands of others and those infected persons, before their symptoms develop, get off the cruises ship and can spread the disease in every port. Government needs a better plan for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      The stories coming from the Diamond Princess are certainly pretty interesting. My favourite description of cruise ships has always been floating petri dishes. Anyone (and I know there are more than a few living on these islands) who has ever worked on any large vessel knows that it is impossible to thoroughly clean them. That’s apparently one of the reasons retired passenger ships end up in third-world scrap yards – they’re a biohazard.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When is the CI government going to ban all connecting flights from in and around China?

    • Anonymous says:

      Impossible. They could make sure no one has travelled there though.

      • Anonymous says:

        Like staff from a certain accounting firm.

        • Anonymous says:

          Or lawyers. Look lots of people travelled there. Calm down. It’s not a pandemic.

          • Anonymous says:

            WHO definition. pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”.

            Sounds like a pandemic to me.

            • Anonymous says:

              If you choose to read articles instead of talk out of yourself sphincter you would know that the WHO actually came out and said it’s not been categorized as a pandemic yet.

              • Anonymous says:


              • Anonymous says:

                “ “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.”. Hey look – I managed to read an article. I guess I can talk out of my sphincter because I don’t have my head up there like you do.

                • Anonymous says:

                  it’s been sensationalized, calm down it’s not a pandemic it’s something to watch. Please try to be sensible these days because right now everyone is up in hysteria about everything , it’s annoying.

                • Anonymous says:

                  National institute of which country?

                • Anonymous says:

                  One doctor quoted in NYT. He doesn’t work for WHO.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “government would do everything it could to protect the borders and its people”

    Thousands were exposed to toxic fire for 3 days and the government didn’t move a finger to protect its people.

    • Anonymous says:

      “and the government didn’t move a finger” … except to put the fire out.

      • Anonymous says:

        Firefighters did. Remediations, cleanups and inspections for contaminants never took place.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear readers, refresh your memory, please:

    CIG budgets almost $3million for Ebola. http://archive.caymannewsservice.com/2014/11/19/cig-budgets-almost-3million-for-ebola/

    “Officials said government has now spent $1.2M on an EVD-rated Odulair field hospital and another $1.7M has been earmarked for inpatient staffing, EMS premium, training for staff and supplies.

    The field hospital, which is expected to arrive in Cayman soon, has eight beds and will be established on the grounds in the existing staff parking lot it will also include a ventilator, dialysis, monitors, wheelchair, laser thermometer and 36 reusable helmets. A temporary isolation area has been identified and is in the process of being equipped and supplied to be used if a case is detected before the field unit arrives.

    Hospital staff members have also been identified as front-line EVD carers and additional training took place abroad about two weeks ago for select H.S.A staff.”

    WHERE IS IT? 8 beds field hospital is too large to fall through the cracks as well as 36 helmets and other items.
    WHO was trained? WHAT happened to the supplies?

    • Bell says:

      1. “…additional training took place abroad about two weeks ago for select H.S.A staff.”
      2. “… A temporary isolation area has been identified and is in the process of being equipped and supplied” . I WANT to see it. It should be all ready by now to take any patients with contagious diseases.
      3. EMS premium. I assume specially equipped transport. WHERE is it?

      Can you please find out if what they said back in 2014 actually happened? Hospital, equipment and supplies purchased, staff trained, EMS equipped and all was and is ready to take sick people?
      Lotsa money was spend. And now they want to repeat all over again?

    • Anonymous says:

      That was a slight of hand. Pretty much everything was cancelled and not purchased. Some suits and a couple masks perhaps……training….really, that’s hilarious. Never happened.
      While I don’t believe Cayman will be overrun with this b.s. illness if they were they would definitely not be prepared. Maybe as prepared as we were for the earthquake. Bah ha ha ha

      • Anonymous says:

        You know for sure or just guessing?
        They said: “additional training took place abroad about two weeks ago for select H.S.A staff”

    • Anonymous says:

      No Ebola tent was ever purchased. Maybe the EMS bouncy castle could be used??

  8. Anonymous says:

    Was ebola tent ever setup or just purchased? Did epidemiologists have a chance to practice? If so, how regularly? How much medical personnel knows about quarantine and what to do or not to do during quarantine? What if tomorrow cruise ships request evacuation of people who are suspected of being infected? What is some of these people already developed pneumonia and would require immediate treatments? From what I hear, robots provide treatment in the US.

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s the most questions you have asked in a single paragraph.?

    • Anonymous says:

      That probably covered in a good coat of asbestos in a store room at the Glasshouse.

    • Anonymous says:

      “First US patient diagnosed with coronavirus after returning to the states from Wuhan has left the hospitaL”
      “While he was at he hospital, he was kept in a special isolated room that has a separate air filter and had been set up five years prior during the Ebola crisis,..”

      See, the Ebola tent was setup 5 years ago and effectively used today.

      Why in Cayman money were spent on the tent, but it was never set up and maintained in “ready” condition? Now they want another million for another tent or isolation room.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Quarantine at home. Do not visit the hospital. This applies in USA right now for a number of reason, to protect the public from coming into contact with people who may already have compromised immune systems.

  10. Brian Tomlinson says:

    The inaction by CIG is a death threat. Come on guys. Get with the rest of the world and try to protect us from this pandemic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay, I understand the panic over tsunami or earthquakes, but your chances of getting coronavirus are nearly zero. Don’t forget climate, geographical location, sun exposure change how viruses and bacterias behave. It might lose potency significantly or become mild or even harmless.

    • Brian Tomlinson says:

      Hmmm… it’s easy to take cheap shots when you hide behind “Anonymous.” If you had any balls you would sign your name.

    • Anonymous says:

      You sure, I understand it’s already here and some Chinese lady has quarantined herself at home…Not sure if she brought a few sticks of dynamite in her luggage..

    • Anonymous says:

      It has not been declared a pandemic, calm down.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Whereas, CDC estimates that “regular” seasonal flu strains infect between 9 and 45 million people, resulting in between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. Yet no global panic over that reality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Perhaps because regular flu is not fatal in 2% of cases and is well understood.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not seeing them wearing Hazmat suits.
      Cannot be that bad…

    • Anonymous says:

      Check your stats – even worst case – 61000 deaths in 9 million infections – 0.7% fatality rate versus 2%+ for Wuhan corona. And the the lower end – 12000 over 45 million – 1 in 4000 cases. So yeah, slight difference in concern.

      • Anonymous says:

        10:35 You’re not comparing like for like. In Wuhan province people are living in an area that’s not far off third world with limited health care and a range of underlying public health problems. My source on that is someone who spent a year teaching in China. One of the biggest problems they encountered was a lack of basic hygiene, particularly in food handling. Apparently even normal flu strains and outbreaks of things like norovirus have a far greater impact there than they do in North America or Europe – the difference is it isn’t reported. The other issue many Chinese face is paying for health care. Despite the socialist nature of the state, medical treatment isn’t free. During my source’s time out there they heard tales of patients having treatment refused or terminated because they couldn’t pay. Realistically, what the Chinese need to do now is keep the affected areas in lock-down until the infection dies out naturally. As for the rest of the world? If there’s proper health care to deal with side effects like pneumonia, coronavirus shouldn’t be any more of a killer than some other flu strains. What people tend to forget is that in 2003/4 we had a major Fujian flu outbreak in the UK – that is a variation of bird flu and it also came from China. It spreads rapidly and, from personal experience, it is very nasty but I don’t remember any mad rush to introduce screening. Right now the UK is in the middle of the worst flu epidemic in 50 years with just under 250 deaths so far. A report from the USA this morning stated that over 10,000 people have died during the current flu outbreak there. Right now flu of all kinds is killing people all over the world. The real danger seems to be that we’re getting fixated on coronavirus and losing sight of the bigger picture.

        • Anonymous says:

          Everybody knows what Chinese should do. How about finding a straw in your own eyes first.

  12. Anonymous says:

    can we at least lock out arrivals from China, and self quarantine returning residents like the US, Australia and UK? Its not perfect, but better than nothing, and CIG does not even have to worry about the precedent/optics given the actions of major governments. And I cannot imagine it will make a dent in tourist revenues for those more concerned about the dollars. Hell, it will probably comfort tourists from the US, which I suspect outweigh returning residents (and their visitors) by a mile.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Damn, I still recovering from my swine flu, ebola and chikungunya.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This spot is reserved for the crappy CIG regulations so when the virus does come on island the old generations with weakened immune systems will be first to be seen. We can bow are heads and pray for the CIG for making drastic changes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What airport screeners screen for? A fever. Fever is not exhibited during an incubation period. Fever can be brought down by aspirin. There are many ways to fool the screeners.
    So airport screenings are useless, unless someone already shows signs of pneumonia. Before someone got to Cayman, he or she has gone through several screening already.
    Do you have means to isolate a person for 14 days? I seriously doubt.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We always knock Jamaica, but last night upon arrival at KIngston Airport, I was quite impressed with the measures and notices they had in place for this new coronavirus and also Ebola. They have their act together, we seem to be behind the curve.

    Travel is blocked from China. What are we doing?

    • Anonymous says:

      There is counseling available for those with panic disorders. That is what you should be doing.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a crazy and stupid response to a valid observation and concern. Didn’t the WHO classify it as a pandemic only a couple of days ago. I hope you are not a decision maker in our health system.

    • Anonymous says:

      How old were those Ebola notices. Last time I was through there they were very old. (As in, no current Ebola outbreak to panic over.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Based on the health minister we are prepared for the “Outbreak” . Apparently we are sitting and waiting for it to get here. No preventative measures in place cause that would mean we have an efficient and proactive thinking government. “sigh”

  17. Anonymous says:

    Really? Can all suspected cases come in and hang out in close proximity with one another while we work out who is coughing because they have a cold, flu, or a Wuhan virus?

    Will this “flu” clinic have the same air circulating elsewhere?

    Plans for self quarantine?

    Purell stations in building lobbies?

    Surgical masks for anyone exhibiting cold symptoms?

    Border checks and investigations of travel histories?

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no action plan. I personally know of one arrival from China on the 31st of January 2020. She was not screened at the airport and made it to her home where she quarantine herself. She called HSA to advise them and ask them to come and test her. HSA allegedly told her she should have been screened at the airport and now needs to come to emergency to register for testing. We reached out to government officials for help, the first one a member of the current government has to get more information to decide if its good enough to have a meeting and one member of the opposition jumped on the matter right away understanding how greatly serious of the situation.

      • Anonymous says:

        Now that sounds like a crock of ….

      • Anonymous says:

        If what you say is true, whatever health official called for her to leave self imposed quarantine to come to the emergency room to be checked should probably be fired immediately. That appears criminally negligent, and would endanger the whole community.

        • Anonymous says:

          Lol, they don’t even have basic understanding what criminally negligent means.

          • Anonymous says:

            First, do no harm.

            That is their oath.

            Not, first take steps to unnecessarily expose the population to a highly contagious illness.

            If the story is true, heads should roll.

      • Anonymous says:

        If that is true you may want to maybe report some names and document the stuff and maybe send a CNS so they can do an actual article on it instead of replying anonymously….

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