Civil service locks down, goes remote

| 25/03/2020 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service
Government Administration Building, George Town

(CNS): All but essential workers in the public sector are now observing the ‘shelter in place’ directive, with most offices closed to the public and civil servants working from home where possible. On Wednesday, phones were still being manned and online services being provided remotely, as the government continued its battle with the private sector to follow suit and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The public is urged to visit government websites, such as WORC and the DVDL, email or call government departments in order to access the services they need. With government reducing the public gathering limit to just two people and hoping to get all but the most essential businesses and services to shut, the public sector is leading the charge.

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson sent a memo to all civil servants on Tuesday directing the government’s workforce to remain at home Wednesday and work remotely until 6 April unless they worked in one of the designated essential areas.

The memo details all of these departments and also advised workers who cannot work remotely and are not essential to speak to their supervisors about their availability to be deployed to other areas of the public sector to help plug gaps in capacity, given the current circumstances.

Government has already imposed a curfew to ensure that everyone remains in their homes from 7pm in the evenings to 5am in the morning. But the goal now is to ensure that as many people as possible across the country remain in their homes in an effort to prevent those who are infected but are unaware of it from spreading the virus. Health experts predict that every person carrying this novel coronavirus can infect at least two other people.

Locking down the community will help prevent transmission and allow the virus to work itself through our community while limiting the numbers that are likely to contract the virus, get sick or need hospital treatment, reducing the strain on the Health Services Authority and the number of lives that could be lost.

Statistics from epidemiologists and global health agencies suggest that as much as 60% of people in a given community where the virus has taken hold will be infected. Around 20% of those will get sick and up to 6% needing hospitalization and ventilators to help them breathe.

Mortality rates vary greatly around the world because of a number of variables, such as the age of populations and their state of health. In Italy, which has a elderly population, more than 7% of those infected are dying, but in China, where the pandemic began and where well over 80,000 people were infected, the death rate has averaged out at around 2.3%.

This is very much higher that the average annual mortality rate for flu epidemics, which, coupled with the contagious nature of this particular virus, makes the pandemic so dangerous.

Given that Cayman’s elderly folk make up a significant percentage of the local population, without a lockdown the jurisdiction is at risk of seeing hundreds of deaths.

Speaking at Tuesday afternoon’s press briefing, Premier Alden McLaughlin estimated that Cayman’s population has recently fallen from a high of more than 70,000 before the pandemic struck to around 64,000 now, but it may well be a little less. But based on that figure, according to calculations based on WHO patterns regarding the behaviour of the virus, without concerted action to keep people at home, more than 800 people could die here as a result of COVID-19.

See the civil service memo in the CNS Library

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Category: Government Administration, Health, health and safety, Politics

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Here is some good reading whilst in Corona-Induced quarantine lock down.

    You will be glad to hear that _as predicted_, whats happening now is good for climate change folks! We need to do this more according to the Safe Climate Acolytes

    So they welcome this crash of production, poverty, movement restrictions, lack of food, drive less, no AC, and push to live as uncomfortably as possible. Basically imagine the coronavirus is always around having you in quarantine, and THAT is the way to the utopic dream for clean, predictable, reliable, hurricane free and SAFE climate…

    The coronavirus is literally reversing climate change as we speak and they already measure the effects! That’s how helpful the coronavirus is according to the Safe Climate Advocacy Religion

    In fact they are disappointed that we don’t react to Climate Change the exact same same way and extreme-hysteria as we do with the Corona Virus (sort of caused/influenced by climate change).

    Coronavirus is SAVING LIVES folks!

    But has the coronavirus been CAUSED by climate change? Well very likely yes kinda sorta

  2. Anonymous says:

    The civil service has been on remote for years!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can fully appreciate that different people will have different experiences when it come to dealing with government departments &/or authorities. That said, it has been my experience that many government departments are barely functional when they are fully staffed so I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for the public during these difficult times. Just the other day I sent and email to a supervisor in a government department and got an automated reply saying that they were unavailable and asking that I direct my email to the manager of the department. I then sent my email to the manager only to get an automated reply asking me to send my email to the same supervisor that the email was originally sent to.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am a proud civil who is working from home. in just the last 24 hrs I have answered 45 phone calls and processed 65 applications. I have lost track of the amount of emails i answered. My department business continuty plans have worked. Yes we go paid early….why is that a problem.

    I am Happy that my employer cares about me and my colleagues.

    I am happy that we have a Government that is willing to make the difficult decisions.

    I want to thank my fellow civil servants who can’t work from home and are working to keep us safe.

    CIG rocks!!;

    • Anon says:

      6.03pm I am intrigued, why then don’t you answer your phone at the office. Please do explain exactly what you do, it can’t be the DVDL who do not answer my phone calls and do not respond to my e mails, which admittedly is normal.

    • Anonymous says:

      How’s your side business doing?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wrong! The last census was in 2014.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Headline should be “Civil Service Goes on Staycation and Nobody Notices”

  7. Anonymous says:

    You forgot to add to the headline “after getting their paychecks early this month and on full salaries and job security the rest of the way”

    • Anonymous says:

      You jelly?

    • Anonymous says:

      So your snide comment suggests that people who cannot go to work through no fault of their own should not be paid?

      • Anonymous says:

        I know the concept of work for pay may be an alien concept to many who are in our Island’s largest social programme called the Public Service.

        For many of us not on that log, yes, it is our reality that the island has been shut down (no fault of our own) and we will not get another paycheck until we get back to work delivering the services we are paid to deliver. Reality!!

  8. Anon says:

    I cannot reach the DVDL by phone or by e mail. Even in normal times most C.S departments respond to calls with voice mail and then don’t return messages.

    • Anon says:

      12.32pm e mail CEOL they will give you a link.

      • Anonymous says:

        He has the contact points – they are just not answering. Because they are all “working from home” Except that they dot actually have the means to work from home. Just document your attempts to reach them so if you are stopped by the cops you can demonstrate that you tried.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m having exactly the same experience with Sagicor insurance, 12:32, although I actually got to a human who said she would “look into it” and call me back. Nope. Never called me. It is NOT just government, service in the private sector can be crap too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why are there so many out on the roads? Why are there still marl trucks thundering by and honking their horns? Seems from where I am everybody out there is going about their business as normal during daylight hours.

  10. Anonymous says:

    6% of our 54,000 (est current population) is potentially 3,240 critical care patients for only 32 ventilators. Impaired political decision making and lack of preparation are why mortality rates are high. With an avg of 6.0 ventilators per 100,000, the UK has a third of the ventilator capacity of Italy or Spain.

    Chinese reported are >80,000, with some 60,000 recovered, 3200 dead, and around 15,000 still trying their best to recover. Not sure what kind of revisionist math would arrive at just a 2.3% mortality when their emergency isn’t fully cleared for tabulation. But even at today’s snapshot, it’s >4% of total cases and >5% of those on other side of the fence…

    Stay inside.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for that figure I was wondering what the current estimate was. Based on UN population statistics we had just under 66,000 just over a month ago. That means c.11-12,000 left. More than I thought.

      • Anonymous says:

        The statistics are crap. It is inexcusable that we do not know exactly how many people are here on any day of the week.

        • Anonymous says:

          When was the last census done in the Cayman Islands?

          • Anonymous says:

            2010, but that is irrelevant. All they have to do is marry immigration, passport, and education records – and they would have an exact number and it is not 54,000!

            • Anonymous says:

              You show me a marriage that works, especially with figures. My wife and I can never agree on money matters. She never tells me how much is on her credit card and I never tell her how much I really make

            • Anonymous says:

              All of which means the relevant agencies cannot properly prepare for what is ahead. It is a disgrace, espescially since the issue has been recognized for over a decade.

            • Anonymous says:

              At the CAIS conference in February Joey Hew said 70k. Judging by the traffic, it might be a bit more. Don’t know how many left before the airport shut – maybe 3k?

              • Anonymous says:

                CBC knows exactly how many have left and how many have come in, going back 50 years. The General Registry knows how many have been born and how many have died. This is not brain surgery, but lives may depend on it in a Pandemic. Little late now it seems.

    • Anonymous says:

      On one of the previous press conferences, the Premiere stated that the population of Cayman was probably down from just shy of 70,000 to about 64,000 after everyone left. If 60% got sick (which is the average according to the above article), that would be 38,400 people with Covid-19 of which 4.5% die (which is the current global average according to Johns Hopkins University). That would be 1728 deaths in Cayman and that’s if we’re around the average. If we had the death rate of Italy (about 10%) then it would be more like 3840 deaths!

      We very much HAVE to be quarantined but I agree that this could have been planned out better and I really don’t understand how 2 days is going to make a big difference.

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