Test shortage poses growing problem

| 23/03/2020 | 78 Comments
Cayman News Service
CMO Dr John Lee at Monday’s press briefing

(CNS): Cayman continues to be in the dark about the potential impact of COVID-19 in the community as a result of the inability of the public authorities to test anywhere near enough people to paint an accurate picture of infection rates. Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee made it clear Monday that this was because we do not have enough testing kits, and until we can source approved rapid kits, the situation will not change.

Globally, it has become clear that where countries have tested widely and early, they have been able to better manage resources and limit fatalities resulting from COVID-19. While Cayman was relatively quick to impose restrictions after we had our first imported fatal case, we have still only tested around 100 people and continue to follow the very restrictive, and many believe now outdated, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) testing criteria.

Cayman’s ignorance about infection levels was highlighted today by news from Honduras that a person who returned to that country in the last few days, who had been a resident in Cayman for many years, has died from the disease. Dr Lee said that his department had not confirmed that he was positive for COVID-19 but said that public health officials were in the process of tracking back this man’s contacts.

Hundreds of local people who presented last month and early this month with respiratory illness were not tested because they had no travel history to a country where there had been COVID-19 cases, even though it is clear that people would only need to travel to George Town Harbour to have risked exposure before the port was closed on Monday 16 March.

Dr Lee had little more news about the current tally of positive cases Monday. Although some test results were completed, public officials had not had time to analyse the tests results and disseminate the details publicly, he said, but confirmed that another two tests from the group of samples sent from Health City Cayman Islands were positive, though those people have been in isolation since the 13 March.

Dr Lee also refused to comment on the student who was taken to hospital this weekend from the isolation hotel suspected of suffering from a “viral infection” and would not say if that patient had been tested for COVID-19.

With just 200 test kits in Cayman and a global shortage of the reagent needed for the tests, Cayman’s ability to measure the progress of this virus within our community remains grim.

In the absence of testing and a lack of realistic statistics, Premier Alden McLaughlin has throughout taken the position that the virus is likely to be in the community. He has continued to warn people about the potential dangers of rapid spread. But despite imploring the community to act as though the virus is here, he said today that people were still acting irresponsibly, congregating in large groups and not following social distancing protocols.


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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (78)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Even Prince Charles has the Coronavirus as reported on TV today. Not even power or wealth can exclude you!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have been thinking that there is a doctor trained in epidemiology at HSA – why is he not out explaining this as I see in other countries? This is an infectious decease and he should be at the forefront.

    I’m also worried that enough testing are not taking place and we might not know the full scale of the problem with community contact.

    Clearly, there is an urgent need to get more test kits and do rigorous testing.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t people get it? There are not enough tests on Island. There are not enough tests in the USA and UK either. We will not be getting them for a long time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman has typically followed the “if you can’t or don’t test for it, it doesn’t exist” rule. This school of thought now has us in a right pickle. As of last week everyone who has had recent contact (last 2 months) with anyone from overseas is too be considered infected. These test kits can’t come fast enough, and this is why most likely there will be a full 24/7 full lockdown coming imminently.

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      • Anonymous says:

        24/7? Aren’t people going to starve? Don’t assume everyone has food at home. 10 days is a long period to go without food.

        CNS: People will still be able to go to the supermarkets, but not during curfew. I think you’ll manage.

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        • Anonymous says:

          CN – how is that any different from the current situation? Surely 24/7 means no movement other than essential services.

          CNS: Here’s the article we published after the governor announced the curfew. The video of the full press briefing is at the end. This article posted last night explains more.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “But he warned he would impose a radical 24/7 full curfew if they did not support the ‘shelter in place’ order tomorrow.”

            Isn’t full curfew means no one goes outside their houses 24/7?

            CNS: “If” means it hasn’t been imposed yet, and if it happens the rules have not been defined. No one is going to be locked in their house and left to starve.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Here in a the ‘greatest country in the world, ever’ when we have a shortage of supplies like masks, and test kits we have a giant orange inflatable we use. Supporters blow up this inflatable’s butt hole until it is really, really inflated. Then this gasbag is placed in front of any scientifically trained mere mortals, and it tells us lies about companies making websites for test and other companies that are making the much needed masks “right now”
    We feel much better hearing the fake good news, and about getting to help the gasbag by blowing up his butt. Carry on leaders, your people need and love you.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And in November, tens of millions of stupid Americans will rush to the polls to vote for this immoral, bigoted, compulsive liar because they believe the alternative is much worse. Make no mistake, people deserve the leadership they get in a democracy and America deserves what is is getting.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Trump said on FOX today that Governors will have to be nice to him, and being nice will determine how much support and health materials they get from Washington.

        WE ARE ENTERING THE WORLD OF INSANITY IN AMERICA.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Incredible that NYC and New Jersey still do not have enough masks, ventilators and test kits. Now 700 deaths in one week and 52,000 cases. And Trump says everything is “excellent”. What world is this guy living in? The man is totally DELUSIONAL.

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      • Anonymous says:

        What’s amazing is Trump keeps saying America is the greatest country in the world with the greatest health system, however, doctors and nurses lack medical masks, ventilators for hospitals and test kits but Trump keeps lying saying everything is excellent. Today he said “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel”. Doctors and nurses in NYC, New Jersey, Seattle and California don’t see the light. They put their health on the line every day due to the virus.

        What is wrong with Americans not being able to see through the ultimate con man?

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        • Anonymous says:

          We have, in fact the majority do not support him. It was the idiotic electoral college rule that elected agent orange. That and the never Hillary super delusional Bernie supporters.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The biggest shortage the people are going to face is MONEY by far! As the economy is utterly devastated.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    In other news – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/23/cdc-coronavirus-survived-in-princess-cruise-cabins-up-to-17-days-after-passengers-left.html

    Similar stories also claim that half the passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic.

    I think we’re still taking ‘baby steps’ when it comes to sorting out what this disease is and how it spreads.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    We are on lock down here in the UK because people did not listen….as per usual!! They were acting as if everything is normal and out and about like a summer vacation!! Such idiots!! Now, we aren’t allowed outside the door only to get necessary food and medicines infrequently, not daily. We can’t even see our children. This can be for months! However, this is the safest and a small price to pay to save lives. No point in having a curfew because that’s not going to save lives as you’ll be in contact with people. Carry on and you’ll be facing the same as the U.K…..it’s coming Cayman so be prepared!

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I read a story yesterday where someone in New York originally from a Caribbean island tested positive and immediately reverted to her knowledge of home remedies. She made and drank a huge amount of tea containing moringa leaves,garlic ,ginger and cayenne pepper. She has recovered and waiting another week to do the test again as her confirmation. I will start drinking the brew as a safe guard to boost my immune system.

    CNS: The vast majority of people who are positive for COVID-19 have no or only mild symptoms, so there’s a very good chance that, even if this story is true, this lady fell into that category. I don’t think that those home remedies will hurt and may well help alleviate symptoms or boost immune system.

    However, (I’m sure you know this and this is not necessarily for you) I have to add for the sake of anyone reading this comment that it is very dangerous to the population to convey that this, or anything else that you read, is a cure or prevention. The only way to truly prevent the spread is not to come into contact with the virus. So whatever home remedies you use, also follow the recommendations set out by health experts.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well, it probably won’t hurt you, but I wouldn’t rely on it as a cure. That said, I’m taking vitamins to help support a strong immune system. We all should do things (vitamins, proper sleep, no smoking, etc.) to support a strong immune system so that our bodies can fight the disease better if we get it, and maybe limit it to a mild case.

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    • Anonymous says:

      From BBC:

      “An Arizona man has died and his wife is in a critical condition after both ingested chloroquine phosphate in an apparent effort to stave off Covid-19. President Donald Trump has touted the medication form of chloroquine as a possible treatment for the virus.
      But the toxic ingredient taken by the Phoenix couple was a chemical commonly used to clean fish tanks.
      Shortly after ingestion, the couple fell ill, said Arizona-based hospital system Banner Health.
      The couple were both in their 60s.
      The woman told NBC News she had seen a televised briefing in which Mr Trump discussed the potential benefits of chloroquine as a treatment Covid-19.”

      I’ll stick with actual doctor’s orders. And self isolate!!!

  8. Mervyn Cumber says:

    A worldwide survey on the BBC shows Cayman as having 5 cases of the Corona virus. I have heard of one death and two new cases identified. Whoa haappinin?

    CNS: There is a press briefing this morning.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yes we had 3 before and two more we confirmed yesterday which makes five

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      • Anonymous says:

        Now 6 surely; the Italian who died, the first 2 Health City staff that were diagnosed, the 2 additional Health City staff announced yesterday (even though they previously said the other staff had been tested and were negative) and the community transmission case announced today. Oh, and of course the returning student in isolation in hospital for a “viral” illness who DR Lee doesn’t want to talk about for some reason – not even as to whether he has been tested or not – so 6 confirmed, maybe 7. If of course you believe them given the various contradictory stories we had on the Costa Luminosa episode, the Health City staff testing and now this. Maybe WAY more than that, although given we only have 200 test kits not sure how we would know. .

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’v always wondered why its a requirement to have come in contact with someone who was confirmed to have the disease or to have traveled to a country with an outbreak in order to be tested. It seemed to me like it was designed purposely to keep the numbers of confirmed cases low by not testing. As another comment said, we just needed to travel to George Town. Also, Alden himself said that he knew business people who traveled, arrived back on island and went directly to work. I just don’t get it. If you want to be ahead of this thing you NEED to know. Acting like we don’t have it when you refuse to test people is a dangerous approach. You don’t need to have a confirmed test to have HSA flooded with people. He wants us to take this seriously but the refusal to open the testing requirements will have some people acting big and bold like they don’t have it. Just look how people are ignoring the warnings from our leaders and also ignoring the warnings from other countries.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You see Alden didn’t want to tell us we only had 200 test kits. Cant test without the kit. Perhaps they can fly some more in on the Governors rainbow “air bridge”!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Dr Lee also pushed the theory that it cannot be transferred if you’re asymptomatic which is not what the CDC are saying.

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    • Anonymous says:

      See 7:09.

    • Tamara says:

      From CDC
      How Coronavirus Spreads
      Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
      People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
      Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The fact is, if we have limited tests we have to be selective in who we test. Pretty simple really

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  12. Anonymous says:

    how can we not have enough testing kits??? we have known about this for 2 months!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Trump and his senior health officials did not order tests after they found out about the virus from the WHO on December 30th. Why do we assume in the dinky Cayman Islands that we are ahead of the Americans with our health wisdom?

      Don’t blame Dr. Lee, he is doing his best with what he has to work with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because no country has enough kits. How are they going to ship to Cayman what they dont have!

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    • Anonymous says:

      How can NYC, New Jersey, California, Louisiana and Seattle not have enough testing kits? They knew about it 2 months ago too. Don’t blame the CIG medical fraternity.

  13. Brown Freeman says:

    What i have -Epidemiologically and Medically Speaking- stressed from day one?

    Once and again, the CMO Dr. Lee (an Anesthesiologist, period) and the Public Health Officer Dr. Samuel Williams Rodriguez (a GP from Cuba without) ARE NOT EPIDEMIOLOGIST let alone a experienced one. They are not INFECTOLOGISTS, neither IMMUNOLOGIST or VIROLOGISTS those are what this Health Crisis warrants.

    This is a new mutated Coronavirus (Special Pathogen, BL 4, probably mutating as we speak), highly contagious, quickly spreading, and AS I HAVE REMARKED from day 1 causing a mild Acute Respiratory Infection disease (nose and T) in 90% of the infected, having a high percentage of asymptomatic carriers spreading the load of virus all over, rapid and acelerated transmission (invisible chain).

    They missed important milestones -NOT RECOVERABLE- in the containment, dignosis-identification of all or as much infected people as possible to do -AS PRESCRIBED- in a highly contagious disease, MANDATORY ISOLATION because the lethality of SARS-CoVID2 such bolf actions demands, they missed what should be an aggressive break of the chain of transmission.

    They contradicted the WHO Medical Director begging to pls TESTS, TESTS and TESTS, just seeing and following the Pandemic, it was clear for anyone with Epidemiological knowledge that it was one of the kind (rate of transmission spoke loud and clear before the WHO declared it), instead of Dr. Rodriguez being relying on CARPHA (him and CARPHA, CARPHA and him) …[instead of] giving straight, clear, and strong scientifically based instructions to the the political authorities and HSA to procure TESTS KITS and ventilators, supplies, field hospital, ISOLATION facilities in place, personel, and a more credible lab back up, with enough time in order to have a contigence plan, and not a damage control one.

    But, again, lack of knowledge. I have no doubt that premier Alden and MinsterJ.J Seymour are sincere, but they know nothing about Epidemics and its break and control. Dr. Rodriguez missed the point -to on record demand the closing of borders and schools on time. Worse but worse, have instructed the GPs at the HSA Clinics and Hospital to labell the more than 400 cases that we have had since early March with Acute Infectious Respiratory Syndrome as “Common Flu”.

    Why a swab for Influenza type A and B was not done to all these patients as a way of ruling out it and said suspicion of other Coronaviru is on? What are they hidding from us? Have u listened the evasion to answer of the CMO today?The Hospital has capability to TEST for A and B plenty. My advice, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the worse is coming, a massive outbreak in 2-3 weeks time, we are un-prepared. Rate of mortality??

    Come on Cayman, we have the resources and we can do better (in our very small population), Government, get a real Epidemiologist, a Virologist Infectologist, at least 3 seasoned ICU specialist, buy at least 20,000 Kits of quick inmunological TESTS for quick (15 to 30 minutes) result from Pinnacle Biolab in USA or the one from Oxford in England, and start (late but usefull) aggresive testing and isolation to BREAK the chain of transmission.

    CIG, you have a number of Medical Doctors living in the community, fairly young, and Cubans Specialist not practising here because political dystopia, monopoly obstacles etc, contact them, you CIG know how, sit down and discuss amicable to get them on board, most probably you might need them. Do not wait until the last minute like Italy. UK is thousands of miles away, with a serious climbing Epidemic, with late actions, Commanders and Pilots could get infected at last minute, listen CIG count on your resources, make your own provisions, the world is closed and affraid.

    Brace for impact.

    I have said,

    Brown Freeman (MD)

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    • Anonymous says:

      Please get your facts straight. Dr Williams-Rodriguez does have a Master’s in Epidemiology. It’s very unhelpful to lie to the public in your efforts to discredit those who are in fact doing their best for the island. How about you contact and speak to him directly if you have such a problem. I assure he’s not gonna be reading this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You sound quite bitter in the way you describe the doctors. Trying to discredit trained professionals (one of who is actually an Epidemiologist, you’re wrong) and fear mongering is not what our island needs. You’re not on the front lines, nor are you doing anything worthwhile other than sitting on your butt and writing unhelpful commentary online.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No fear mongering in his comment. Just facts. They blew it. They covered it up. They have no idea how to handle an epidemic. Hospitals including Health City blew it. All people with acute respiratory symptoms must have been met by fully protected medical staff in hazmat suites away from the public and it should have been assumed they are COVID positive unless proven otherwise. Not the other way around.

        Masters in epidemiology? What about experience as an epidemiologist? It is like MDs that teach at your medical school that have not practiced medicine a single day.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Grand or Prince Hall?
      It too shall pass eh?
      Thanks for your insights.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who should be tested
      Not everyone needs to be tested for COVID-19. Here is some information that might help in making decisions about seeking care or testing.

      Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home.
      There is no treatment specifically approved for this virus.
      Testing results may be helpful to inform decision-making about who you come in contact with.
      CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brown Freeman, you really sound quite bitter. Are you really MD? Have you ever faced a pandemic like this? As far as I know, it is a new and highly contagious virus that is challenging even the most experienced epidemiologists.

    • Anonymous says:

      Brown Freeman, you really sound very bitter. Are you really MD? Have you ever faced a pandemic like this? As far as I know, it is a new and highly contagious virus that is challenging even the most experienced epidemiologists.

    • Anonymous says:

      This virus is new and even the most expert are learning from it. Public health and HSA personnel are following guidelines established by the most specialized in the subject. There are many who are working very hard to minimize the number of infected people in the country. According to your comments, malicious, by the way, “you are an expert in pandemic management”

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dr Lee nd er said that the Honduran man died from covid-19. That is simply your opinion.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The death certificate reads very clear.

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      • Anonymous says:

        He did not have it. Confirmed
        Death certificate said suspected

        • Anonymous says:

          Confirmed by who? And BTW there are 2 versions of the death certificate. Once says Covid. The other says suspected Covid. Its not clear which came first, although CMR alleges the suspected classification was added to a later certifcate.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    If we are to act as though the virus is here, why are we not locked down? Why take the risk?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey John, where’s the Ebola tent? The people want to know.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Lee seemed very nervous and unconvincing in his stuttered speech while talking about the lack of testing kits and the condition of the overseas student who was transported to Hospital on Friday. Is it because he is fearing the worse of the coronavirus in our community? Time will tell but not a good showing by Dr. Lee today.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He should be nervous. 480 Testing Kits? They obviously had no intentions of testing. WHO has been advising every country to test, test. There is no other way of knowing what you are dealing with. We need to take all the necessary precautions to protect ourselves, as we can not depend on these morons for protection.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He has been out of his depth for a while.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dr Lee has probably not slept for days arranging to keep your ungrateful backside safe.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He is not acting like a CMO. Unprepared, don’t know the responses to most questions. Very unimpressed.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Not a single person on that Panel everyday looks calm or under control, They first few The Premier was clearly overwhelmed and rightfully so. They have not been perfect, but compared to many larger bigger countries they are doing extremely well. Hell look at a The UK and USA they are completely out of control and first line personal have barely any equipment, and I have friends in major cities that work that field and are very impressed CIG moved as quickly as they have. WE have more ventilator beds than any city our size in the USA by two times. Stop fear mongering, as it is creating people to panic shop and we will not recover from this anytime soon if we do not get ourselves home and stay there! And let me be clear, NO ONE alive right now has every dealt with what we are dealing with now, so back off and just do as you are told!! If you are not nervous or scared you are a fool, but now is the time to help each other out and do as we are asked, our lives depend on it!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Today you basically have the Governor of New York State begging on TV for medical supplies from Washington.

        And people think we have major problems here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          NYC is the canary in the coal mine. It’s going to hit the rest of America in the next 2 or 3 weeks like a massive tsunami. Going to get much worst as Trump is sitting on his ass not listening to the medical experts and scientists.

          He is a “subtle genius”. Who needs science when one is a genius?

          Get ready, we are in for a lot of pain.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I was out today in ALT and Paramount.
    Both had implemented sensible social distancing and people were obliging. Everyone was happy.
    There is no need for draconian bullshit.
    We need the press to be responsible in their reporting and stick to proven facts, unlike other sources that shall not be named that like to promote sensationalism in exchange for Facebook likes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You won’t say that if you catch it. I bet if that happens you’ll be screaming that too little was done to stop the virus.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And i saw people crowding around several bank entrances today when no social distancing. Its obvious people still don’t gwt it! Bring on the Draconian measures please!!!! Better safe than dead.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Lock us down Alden! It is far better we be overcautious at this stage!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Completely agreed. Better to be safe than sorry. Our government should have taken stronger measures before such as stopping cruise ships but hindsight is 20/20 vision. Now let us do like Trinidad and completely close the borders.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We have closed our borders. Now we need to close our streets!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Why don’t get just ban everything that can pose us danger, just to be better safe than sorry?

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        • Anonymous says:

          Yes lets ban stupid people from posting and going out among us. Smart people will follow rules and not do dumb things like buying all the toilet paper they can afford and going out amongst the crowds.

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