COVID-19 tests still too few to help

| 26/03/2020 | 65 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee at Coronavirus update, 25 March 2020

(CNS): Cayman has tested less than 150 people for COVID-19 because it doesn’t have enough tests. Despite the ability to test locally, a false negative has made the authorities even more reliant on the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the long time-lines for confirmation to inform us of transmission rates and whether positives are travel related cases or community spread. This means that tests cannot help us manage the pandemic here.

With more than 50 samples outstanding and over a hundred negative cases, nine people in Cayman have so far tested positive.

Six of those, including ‘patient zero’, the first person to die as a result of COVID-19 related complications, are all samples from Health City Cayman Islands. Two were from members of the community, both of whom had travel histories to countries with confirmed COVID-19 cases, including the patient with the false negative, and one related to a community transmission which has not yet been verified by CARPHA.

In theory, Cayman could also have a tenth case after a long-term resident here recently returned to his native Honduras, where he had tested positive for the virus and died. The authorities say they have not yet confirmed the details of that case but have made contact with his family to trace his possible contacts in the Cayman community.

Speaking at the press briefing Wednesday about Cayman’s inability to test and the danger that exposes us to, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee welcomed news that the CTMH Doctors Hospital was also going to begin testing. But with a worldwide shortage of the reagent and only around 150 tests available here, he said he was not sure if the hospital would be able to source the materials for the tests, especially these reagents which Dr Lee said the HSA is struggling to find.

It is becoming increasingly clear now that Cayman will not be able to manage its response to this dangerous virus through testing.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said this was why his government was trying to manage the pandemic by curtailing social interaction. He noted that around the world experts are “urging testing, testing, testing”, but given that Cayman is simply not able to test to any meaningful level, it has to act as though the virus is already in the community.

He said the need to lock people down to limit the spread and avoid what he has warned could be hundreds of deaths was crucial. The premier believes that the next ten days are a very risky time, referring to the hundreds of residents who have just returned to the island from places where the pandemic is raging.

But McLaughlin said that if people stay at home, obey the curfew and stop gathering together anywhere for the next ten days, there is still a possibility that the spread of the virus can be limited and largely contained. If that happens, many of the restrictions that have been imposed could be lifted, and while the borders remained closed, residents could still enjoy a slightly more normal life.


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Comments (65)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know a little more about the testing. Dr Lee said the screening test is far more sensitive than the confirmatory test. If that is the case why not just use the screening test?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can we work on grocery delivery? I am on day six of self quarantine. I do not want to have to go to the grocery store and reset to day one!

  3. Anonymous says:

    It looks like the sasputchies and the punkerels have taken over this site and are now pushing their political agendas again – go back under your rocks!

    Most of us are tired of the political crap and are just trying to stay alive.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    If the health minister cannot contribute anything except song lyrics and bible verses can he please stay home and let the grown ups handle the press briefings. Clearly out of his depth. I cringe every time he speaks. Caymanian!

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  5. Gun but no bullets says:

    Poor is we, HSA has a shiny new machine to preform COVID-19 analyses but no reagents. CARPHA’s lab must be swamped, can their lab spare us any reagents?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I knew it wouldn’t belong before the cat was let out of the bag. These are the kind of elitist vermin that our leaders rub shoulders with at Chatham House. I’ll bet Tony Blair wanted to make this announcement, but his credibility is precipitously low right now.
    From the Guardian. Enjoy.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/26/gordon-brown-calls-for-global-government-to-tackle-coronavirus

    People, please stay awake, do not be bullied, insist on documented facts, obey the law and ask loads of questions. Don’t be lemmings. This juggernaut is going somewhere and it wants to take us all with it.

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    • Fox Mulder says:

      OMG!!! You are SO RIGHT. How clever of you to notice. I had no idea this was all a leftist plot to take over the world but now my eyes are OPENED. But you missed one thing. People have been stocking up on toilet paper and Clorox and missing the BIG DANGER. All this time they should have been buying up all the tin foil they possibly can because they will need it soon to make hats out of before the elitist vermin try to TAKE OVER OUR MINDS!!! Luckily, you have apparently lost yours so there’s nothing to worry about.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Okay, so we watched other countries get caught off guard (like the UK and USA) and scramble for equipment and test, but our government left our boarders open to tourist and travel until the virus was brought here knowing that WE WERE NOT PREPARED at any level to take on this virus on our shores….

    WHERE ARE THE TESTS and MEDICAL SUPPLIES?
    It is hard to find every where but other countries are hunting down resources and lobbying for more supplies preparing for the worst, while our representatives from the UK have us sitting like cows waiting to get infected and our GOV. hoping on a whim we stay home and don’t get sick. LOOK HOW THAT IS WORKING FOR THE UK and US right now!
    If there was a mass breakout we WOULD NOT be able to take care of our people so curfew is great and will save lives, but not slow an outbreak without the combination of testing.

    We are not ready to take care of 500-1000 infected people. Where are the plans for extra bed spaces? Are we getting additional respiratory equipment and PPE supplies?
    THERE ARE NO ANSWERS to any of these questions from government.
    An outbreak can happen from anything at this point even with a curfew.
    Knowing we don’t have enough test for even 500 people out of a population of 64,000 on island is irresponsible and our government should be doing more with the UK to fill this gap immediately while we are under lockdown.

    DR. LEE needs to come prepared to give hard numbers. How many beds in hospitals on island? How many ventilators on island? What are projections for community spread based on the 9 infected patients? What districts are these infected people located?

    An Air Bridge to the UK… they can start by sending more TESTS!

    P.S. MR. Seymour, if you have nothing useful to say can we give your seat to someone else like maybe Mr. Foster who can give us updates on toilet paper and bleach stocks. Or at least go make some calls to suppliers and stop waiting on the UK for everything!

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    • Anonymous says:

      if you followed international news you would see the UK has no tests or equipment because their new government is willfully incompetent, and is about to go into meltdown with a soaring death rate.

      The whole world wants tests/reagents and is finding them wherever they can. Some countries have even started to make their own, but suspect we are too small to do that. That you are also focused on toilet paper and bleach stocks says more about your ability to listen and read than anything else. Try it out, that reading and listening stuff, you might stop sprouting crap if you did.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, give them a break dude. And frankly, if Seymour wants to read aloud song lyrics, I’m all for it. Hopefully tomorrow it’ll be some early L’ll Wayne stuff.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Really don’t see why Seymour should be given a break. With the big dollars he gets,paid yearly, he should be performing in his job directly related to the health sector. We don’t need a comedian and lyricist as Health Minister.

        Too many people on the gravy train and should be pulled off for non performance.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Testing and targeting is the key. Hopefully they’ll solve that problem very soon or an effective treatment is established very soon. Ideally both. The current strategy is the best they can do under the circumstances but won’t work long term for a variety of reasons. We wait and hope for now.

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    • Anonymous says:

      With just 32 ventilators, stopping the community transmission of Covid-19 is absolutely paramount to avoid deaths. There were 200 test kits and we’ve chewed through 150 plus error-loss in our first “real” week of vigilance. Previous weeks of sustained blindness and typical stupid greedy policy brought us here. Bus loads of Europeans were invited to circulate in our community right up until last week, and Moses was boasting about Unity regime’s success in doing so. Now we have to cross our fingers and hope they haven’t signed death warrants as a result.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There will be no testing soon. The test kits as they are produced are going to be used first in the UK and in the USA. If NYC cannot get enough test kits and medical supplies in a city where 1,000 people are dying a day from the virus, we better hunker down and practice social distancing ASAP or we are in for big problems health wise.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You may find this hard to believe, but there are other countries apart from UK and USA and many are sourcing factories to make reagents and other needed supplies in huge numbers. We will find all we need.

      • Anonymous says:

        1.21pm, really do try to be better informed before you write something. In total so far 1,100 have sadly dies in the US. As of today the US has the worst numbers in terms of confirmed cases globally. There are (so far) not 1,000 people dying daily, so stop putting false info out there. In addition many other countries produce tests and equipment, so just calm down and try to write fact, not fiction.

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        • Anonymous says:

          No you are wrong 5:14. There are currently 25,251 deaths from the virus and yes, over 1,000 people did die yesterday. Just go to the Johns Hopkins Medical University site and see the stats for yourself. Try to inform yourself better.

          Furthermore, stop watching Fox News and the rosy situation they are trying to make of the situation like their hero Trump. Things are not “excellent” as Trump said yesterday at his press conference.

          Hospitals in NYC are now at full capacity with many people dying by the hour there in hospitals. There are refrigeration trucks parked now in the streets of Queens in front of the hospital there with hundreds of dead bodies inside.

          Also note that many countries produce tests and equipment but because Trump is determined not to take federal control over the allocation of tests and equipment, there is a free market free for all underway. Bidding wars for medical supplies are underway and we in the Cayman Islands are not in that war. That is the reason that it will be some time before we get new medical resources.

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          • Anonymous says:

            What the hell are you talking about? There are not 1000 deaths per day in NYC nor all of the U.S. for that matter. Today the death toll for the entire U.S. for all deaths to date sits tragically at 1500. No need to spread more lies, there’s plenty out there.

            • Anonymous says:

              Think the 2 of you both seem to agree on the same thing. Lots of people are dying in the U.S. and around the world.

              Not sure what lies are being told. The health situation is very bad.
              The Johns Hopkins death stats are very concerning.

  9. Anon says:

    The virus is able to spread 48 hours prior to symptoms and only 24 to 48 hours after symptoms are visible. I don’t understand why they are playing around with a 58 hour lockdown as they should have extended it to 5am Monday morning (which may still happen as they might be trying to soften the blow, first 58 hours then 98 hours etc.). I myself am in 14 day isolation due to a family member flying but the CMO is out of his depth and doesn’t need to be doing mental calculations at a press conference – he should know the figures and present them accurately and fairly.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is a medical officer, not a show man. Would you rather have someone competent at the head or someone like Trump?

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    • Anonymous says:

      He’s probably not slept in 3 weeks and is operating with 2 hands tied behind his back. I think he should be Knighted after this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lock down should be until Monday at the earliest. Should have quarantined every returning passenger last week. Maybe the average citizen didn’t know the severity of this virus, but government did, and they were slow to act: despite calls for real quarantines, they did nothing. This is on governments hands.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    It would appear that McLaughlin and Lee need to catch up on the news.
    The UK Government has recently downgraded the status of COVID-19.
    It is no longer classified in the HCID category. (High consequence infectious diseases.)
    The official link is here:
    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/high-consequence-infectious-diseases-hcid#status-of-covid-19

    To McLaughlin and Lee, it has been painful to watch the extreme incompetence of your press conferences which have been high in conjecture, low in fact and quite frankly of a bullying nature.
    It was laughable when the Health Minister tried to play the God card with a public prayer.
    The governor has been incredibly weak throughout this whole debacle and between you all, you have managed to strike an unnecessary level of fear into a decent and trusting population.
    Your heavy handed draconian tactics without any intelligent forethought have wrought havoc and distrust in our communities and I am sincerely hoping that you can rectify this in a mature and constructive fashion.

    In the meantime, I will catch up on much needed rest.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Look at how the UK is unable to control the cases there. You are not making sense. We are limited in Cayman in comparison to Italy, Spain, UK and USA, yet they are quaking with all those deaths and unable to cope. If you have to increase the lockdown Alden, do it. At the press conference later or tomorrow, just extend the lockdown 24/7 if you deem it necessary. Thank you.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Did you actually follow the link? A 4-inch brush is very messy when a 1-inch will do. Please pay attention. Thanks.

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      • Wegan says:

        The response from the government is really poor. Personally I support the lock-down because it’s necessary but the problem is how it’s administered. We had the luxury of having a front seat view to the profession of the CoronaVirus we should have learned our lessons from the multiple evidence in the other countries. Simple put it… we knew it was coming. Our first lock-down was a Chaos: at 3:45pm it was announced they there will be a 24hrs lock-down. This resulted in long lines at the supermarkets, pharmacy, gas station etc. I am sure many of us were not even able to get some crucial supplies because they was at work. Just stop for a moment and think about the elderly and mothers with young babies. These individuals who are administering our country has lost touch with fabric of our country.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I live here but am British and can tell you that listening to anything that Bojo says or does will guarantee you a death warrant. The man is completely incompetent and refuses to listen to experts. A result of that is predicted to be thousands of unnecessary deaths. I would much rather be here..

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      • Anonymous says:

        An obviously visceral hatred for Boris Johnson is of no help to anyone at this time 12:18. Brexit is over…at least the first stage….so move on.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Oooh, obviously hit a nerve 1.29pm. Where did you see brexit mentioned? Nowhere, just in your paronoid mind. The post is clearly about the virus and the absolute ineptitude of BJ to handle it, plus the lies he continues to spout about it. He had a 9 week warning of what was coming and did nothing apart from spout a totally debunked theory about herd immunity, ignoring the fact that not smoothing the spike would, and now will overwhelm the health service, as it has in Italy, Spain and now NYC. Whilst he has now started to move, he still has not done enough. At least here they are trying hard to get it right and doing a good job too. I have a visceral hatred for stupidity, and you are right up there…

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      • Anonymous says:

        I would have agreed with you about Bojo a month ago, however, after having seen 5 press conferences with Trump the past few days Bojo appears to be the subtle genius. Obviously Bojo is listening to the medical pros in the UK while Trump is only interested in spinning things to support his election in November.

        Painful watching the American medical professionals diplomatically contradicting their boss, the President.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Trump’s lunacy today is that he is considering counties, yes friggin counties, giving them the sole right and power to have lock downs and social distancing.

          All power would be taken from individual states.

          Certain no medical professional in America would support this view.

          November cannot come fast enough. Just hope most of us survive with some medical experts talking about 2 to 2.5 million deaths in a years time in America.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Have come to believe over the past month, that both Bojo and Trump are leadership disasters. Both have totally screwed up on the handling of the overall conoravirus situation in their countries.

    • Anonymous says:

      10:12, You working for Fox News in Cayman? The U.K. has had 10,000 cases identified in the past week and 500 deaths. Glad you are not concerned. Keep relaxing.

      Practice social distancing Bobo, and get a lot of rest.

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    • Cayman Mon says:

      You are a Covidiot!

  11. Anonymous says:

    CNS – what is your source in relation to the case in Honduras? Curious how you are noting that he had tested positive when the only “news” sources I can find making that claim are you and Cayman Marl Road. I think that probably speaks for itself…

    CNS: It was repeated at the press briefing, where they said he was believed to have tested positive but it had not been confirmed by CARPHA. So they are treating it in the same way as they treat positive cases here, as unconfirmed positive until CARPHA confirms. However, CARPHA is taking over a week for test results to come back.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I sincerely hope the public hasn’t been served flim-flam by the Govt & Dr Lee. So a machine arrived to do on Island testing which began 10 days ago, there’s not enough tests available, nobody seems to have confidence in its results, there’ an inability to obtain reagent for its function anyway and so its back to CARPHA and lengthy turn around times if they decide to test. Despite ongoing reassurances from Govt and HSA of being well positioned to deal with COVID 19 we now find ourselves in near to a worst position possible with no real time testing as cases potentially ramp up. No wonder Alden is panicking with curfews being put in place and extended, we’re flying blind. If someone presents with symptoms to that of COVID 19 it has to be assumed they’ll initially be admitted to hospital and cared for in isolation taking limited beds and resources even if negative, carers just won’t know. Someone clear this up at todays news conference please.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Look I understand where you’re coming from and the fear that everyone has but the problem is no one really knows how to deal with this. I think they’re doing the best they can with what resources they have. The world is ill-equipped, not just Cayman. Stay home, don’t panic, enjoy your family if you’re lucky enough to be with them physically.

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      • Anonymous says:

        fear & panic aren’t necessarily part of the equation, – imposition by virtue of revelation in narrative is something else.

        thank you for an alternative perspective however, – sincerely noted

      • Anonymous says:

        No, there is a way of dealing with this problem as has been proven in China and South Korea. SOCIAL DISTANCING. The situation in China and South Korea has improved dramatically the past week. The number of cases is finally dropping.

        If Italy had acted earlier on social distancing, the situation would not be as bad as now. The authorities did not enforce social distancing last month, and now they are paying the ultimate price.

        Learn Cayman.

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  13. Yaaa or Naaa says:

    Hello. But I always thought that as a BOT the UK was supposed to assist the Cayman Islands in times like these.

    Why is it so hard to get the reagents needed.

    The FCO was touting the fact that Cayman was to be the Bridge between the UK and it BOT’s in the Carribean.

    I mean its serious. Were they just paying lip service or are they stepping up to the plate around here.

    If its lip service then Cayman should take this as a sign of any future incidents an learn that when the tough gets going the UK WILL NOT BE AROUND FOR CAYMAN.

    So Govenor I ask again, which is it. Yaaa…… or Naaa………

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do you see whats going on in the UK? I doubt they have enough for themselves at the moment.

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    • Anon says:

      8.44am The UK can’t get enough test kits for their own citizens. There are 7.8 billion people on this planet and at least half need testing, get that through your atrophied brain.
      Why not ask the Speaker one of your own, to use his Chinese contacts where most of the reagents come from.

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    • Anonymous says:

      England in incapable of managing her own situation, so it would be stupid to think we would be receiving any assistance from that direction at this time. The only thing coming to Cayman from UK are infected persons who are not being tested upon entry. Stay home, take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and family.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Governor can do nothing unless a State of Emergency is Declared. Then he can suspend the Constitution and get tings done. That is what happened after Ivan, and the Private Sector were brought in to deal with issues, quickly and effectively, and get things fixed. They did an amazing job.

      The Governor will not declare a state of emergency and take over unless Alden asks him to.

      What do you think the prospect of that is?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Good heavens, some people are so stupid. The UK is in a far worse position and is having issues, (as all countries are) getting reagent and other medical supplies. Educate yourself instead of indulging in self pity, pathetic nationalism and xenophobia. If you want to blame anyone, blame yourselves for electing incompetent and politicians who can barely find their way around basic legislation and human rights, let alone the complex issue of public health, especially with a dodo for a Minister.
      You elected dumb dumbs who wanted to spend millions on a doomed cruise dock, and still want to spend millions on an appeal, money that is desperately needed to support your destroyed tourism product and services industry. You are to blame for those who place self interest, religious dogma and potential votes ahead of your commitment to human rights and sadly you will soon learn that Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate against sexuality as your bigoted politicians and so called community leaders do. This situation is a long overdue correction for Cayman, now the real world has arrived on your doorstep you’re suddenly realising that you are no longer invulnerable to the big wide world and that money goes as quickly as it comes.
      I wish you well, but you need to understand that Cayman needs to change after this horror is over. You need to educate your people to world class standards, you need intelligent and capable representatives, you need to join the world and stop being a black listed pariah, and most of all you need to think of more than the quick buck without planning for the future.
      Stay well my friends.

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    • Anonymous says:

      So you just don’t understand what the phrase WORLDWIDE SHORTAGE means?

    • Anonymous says:

      The U.K. has to save itself first before it can look after the children.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Governor has been stripped of his power the past 10 years by the Legislature.
      His powers are now limited to Defence and Foreign Affairs.

      A mistake by our people who wanted more power.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, we’d feel much more confident if managing this health crisis policy were completely decentralized to CMO Dr. Lee with support of the Premier, not the other way around. So tired of Alden and his sneaky coalition politicizing that they were elected as our authoritarian rulers. Dr. Lee has the patience and restraint of a saint and is the only person qualified in that room to offer this direction. He should chair these emergency briefings and Alden, governor and Dwayne (!) should listen quietly from the wing seats, echoing their support.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Right now, all you need to do is stay safe and keep the politics out of it. Compared to what is going on in the UK and USA, the guys here are doing brilliantly.

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  15. Gwendelyn B says:

    In my opinion, the government and the public health department are working hard and doing everything possible to prevent a massive infestation in our community. We do not need pessimistic comments, it is time to support each other to overcome this overwhelming situation that is affecting the entire world

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly!

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    • Anon says:

      8.10am If it’s an infestation maybe Pestkil can help.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The infestation was approved by Mac. Different story.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And one only a bigot like you would tell at a time like this, moron.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Realist, bro, realist. The problem is that most of the people whom I’ve see putting us at risk are from Jam rock. No social distancing, partying, the usual bs.

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    • Anonymous says:

      What exactly are they doing? Be specific.

      Ordering isolation is not doing, it is giving orders for others to do something.

      Under the circumstances doing would be:

      Ensuring panic is not being spread
      Ensuring hate speech is not present in social media.
      Ensuring enough food in supermarkets
      Ensuring no stampede would take place at supermarkets once they reopen
      Ensuring acutely and chronically ill, disabled and elderly won’t have to stay in lines under hot sun to buy groceries
      Ensuring food supplies will continue coming from overseas should regular suppliers cancel contracts.
      Ensuring assistance is available for mental crisis, child and family abuse cases
      Working on obtaining tests, personal protection equipment for medical staff. Buy directly from China.
      Ensuring exposed medical personnel is isolated from their families. Hotels perhaps?
      Ensuring medical waste is properly disposed of.
      Ensuring essential functions workers are properly protected.
      Ensuring replacement is available for emergency and essential functions workers should they become exposed and would require a quarantine,
      Ensuring public places are in a proper sanitary state.
      Many people would probably want to leave the island once air travel resumes. Make sure emergency and essential functions workers don’t plan on doing so. If they had enouy and would want to leave, may be consider paying them double rates.

      The territory is in for a long rough ride. Not 58 hours, not 10 days, 14 days or 3 weeks as many seem to believe. Living on a stamp size rock mid ocean presents challenges that continental countries don’t have, or have at a lesser degree.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Earlier and more dynamic vigilance would have kept it out entirely. This has been exacerbated by a negligent Unity Regime that was comfortable allowing bus loads of asymptomatic infected to circulate our community just a week and a bit ago…and they bragged about their success in keeping the ships coming. There is a reason Alden is worried about community transmission, and it’s their lax policy in the face of what were known European realities (already unfolding) that put us squarely where we are.

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We have created a new system to help us address questions we receive from the public for the press briefings. We are getting hundreds every day and it’s impossible to read and deal with them while the PB is in process as there are a lot of moving parts to being able to do the Zoom meeting, take notes and respond to their info in real time.

So we are asking people to send their questions each day BEFORE NOON to: covid-questions@caymannewsservice.com

This will give us a chance to read, sort and consolidate the questions so that we get to the issues that people are most concerned about.

Thanks for your help. In the meantime the ones you have sent will be sorted and collated.