CMO warns of ‘clusters’ of COVID-19

| 02/04/2020 | 70 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee

(CNS): With five more positive samples of COVID-19 from people who have had direct contact with previous patients who tested positive, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee warned Thursday that clusters of the virus are developing in specific households. But there is still hope that the spread of the virus can be contained, so government plans to extend the curfews and massively increase testing after ordering 200,000 kits from South Korea.

At the regular daily COVID-19 press briefing, Premier Alden McLaughlin said that while they had been ordered, he could not say when this massive number of kits, which will allow everyone in Cayman to be tested, would get here.

Governor Martyn Roper said he had hoped that they would be on the British Airways flight coming next week but this will not be possible.

“Moving anything around the world at the moment is incredibly challenging,” he noted, explaining that there was not enough time to get the kits from South Korea on the BA flight and they now had to work out how to get them here. However, when they do arrive, it could prove a game changer for how Cayman manages the coronavirus outbreak here.

However, another 1,700 kits are expected from the UK on the BA flight next week, which will enable public health to begin testing health workers, other front-line government personnel and essential workers, such as supermarket staff.

Dr Lee confirmed that CTMH Doctors Hospital is expected to begin COVID-19 testing soon, having secured a testing machine, which is bigger that the one acquired by HSA so it will be able to do even more tests than the government hospital.

Given the ongoing shortage of test kits, which government officials say they are desperate to address, only 265 people have been tested so far. Of those, 28 samples have been confirmed as positive. This includes the first sample of a suspected community transmission here, which has finally been confirmed as positive by CARPHA, after the testing here was inconclusive.

Three more were also community transmissions, but Doctor Lee said this still not widespread because these transmissions are largely confined to people in the same families and households. He said that four of the five new cases reported Thursday all came from the same household where the virus was first detected in someone who had previously been overseas.

Nevertheless, Dr Lee warned that travel history was increasingly less relevant. Urging everyone to stay home, he stressed that the only way to curtail further spread is for people to keep apart from each other, practice social distancing and maintaining scrupulous hygiene.

Of those that have contracted COVID-19, only one is in hospital. Dr Lee said that 15 people have fully recovered from the virus while the remaining twelve have only been recently tested. He said these people are in the early stages of the disease and their clinical condition is still hard to confirm.

While all those who have tested positive are in self-isolation at home, with public health checking on these individuals regularly, they are not being formally quarantined.

Government plans to place anyone returning from the UK on next week’s anticipated air-bridge into a strict lawful quarantine in a government managed facility, which is expected to be around 60 people. But no government official, including Dr Lee, has answered questions about why those who tested positive but have not yet recovered have not been formally quarantined.

Nevertheless, the message to all residents across Cayman is that the only way to prevent spreading or contracting COVID-19 is to stay at home.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (70)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if anyone else has seen and are concerned about the many used gloves thrown around the grocery stores after customers use them. I was at Costuless yesterday stepped out of my car right on to one. This caused me to look around and throughout the parking lot they were everyone..Absolutely disgusting! Why do people feel it is okay to leave there germ infested gloves on the ground for other people to come in contact with them..

  2. Anonymous says:

    I want to donate blood. Where do I go? Thank you CNS for your advice. I have emailed GIG, and the Red Cross, both have just sent automated responses to call them. But no one answers. How can we help with no directions?

    CNS: This came up in the press briefing today in the segment with the health minister. I expect there will be more on this but you can watch the video of today’s press briefing in the meantime.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Seymour should do us all a favor and follow Bernie Bush’s example.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How do we volunteer to donate blood? What is the contact number or website? I am O negative.

  5. Anonymous says:

    More like clusters of BS.

  6. Anon says:

    A recent UK newspaper article states that some 6000 doctors worldwide have related some success with the drug Hydroxychloroquine saying it was the most effective in a number of cases. This is a drug which is already FDA approved. Can anyone tell me if its is being used here and if not why not?

    • Anonymous says:

      Watch the news. Check via the internet. Look at FAQ’s.

    • Anon says:

      Of course I did not mean it had been FDA approved specifically for the treatment of COVID-19 but it has been approved for the treatment of other infectious diseases and has no negative implications when used on COVID-19 sufferers. It has proved effective in some cases!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not approved for use in covid.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let’s not lose sight of what’s emerging that seem to be significant failures to isolate and control the movements of those identified with the virus that has resulted in this increasing spike and not far behind Jamaica but with a significant difference in population size.

    It’s clear that while the returning students and few adults were literally placed in a forced quarantine with security guards for almost two weeks, persons with COVID-19 were told to voluntarily-self-isolate; thus putting other family members and the community at risk hence we have this growing community spread.

    What was painted as a rosy picture now requires hard questions and from an infectious decease specialist!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Inspirational story for your morning coffee.

    Too much to lose.’ Why a Miami man moved into a backyard tent during coronavirus crisis.

  9. Donnie says:

    Kudos to the government for the measures that they have taken so far to contain the spread of Covid-19.
    ‘Emergency management’ calls for making tough decisions and accepting that not everyone will agree with you at the time. I recall a veteran emergency manger in Florida years ago at a hurricane conference saying “You know that you did a good job when you get lots of complaints after. They survived. It’s when you don’t get any complaints that you know you screwed up”. I commend the government for its bravery in the face of the complaints.
    I was pleased when the ‘community split’ was introduced to address the congestion at the supermarkets; I believe that it has been effective. And I’m pleased to see that ‘community split’ will be more generally applied. ‘On-foot travel’ for exercise would be the only exception that I would condone.

    Having listened to yesterday’s briefing, I think Wendy from CNS nailed the new ‘elephant-in-the-room’ question and, unfortunately, she didn’t get the type of answer that her question warranted. While Dr Lee may not have had a definitive answer at his fingertips, a simple “We’ll need to look at that more closely” was warranted.
    The recent results and the circumstances explained by Dr Lee point to either of two scenarios:
    1. A person who tested positive was allowed to ‘self-isolate’ without due consideration to how many persons shared the individual’s household and would in turn be exposed; or
    2. The individual who tested positive mislead the authorities in agreeing to ‘self-isolate’ knowing that he/she would have numerous others within his/her household.
    I admit that I have never subscribed to the concept of ‘self-isolation’. Yes, I accept that there are a percentage of persons who genuinely get it and would keep to themselves for the isolation period but I believe, admittedly without any data, that that percentage isn’t one that I would want to bet on!
    The mission that the government is committed to, and is asking us to commit to, calls for measures that have as high a level of effectiveness as we can really hope to achieve; nothing less. In this case, I believe that we have to transition as soon as possible to a regime where:
    • any person who meets the criteria for being tested is automatically subject to a ‘mandatory quarantine’;
    • tracing of potential contacts commences immediately following the individual qualifying for testing; and
    • a positive test result automatically makes established contacts also subject to ‘mandatory quarantine’.
    If we’re in this to win, we have to continue to make the tough calls. I say dispense with ‘voluntary isolation’ and introduce ‘mandatory quarantine’ with the appropriate rules and penalties.
    The logistics of accommodation and management are easily within our capabilities and do not warrant addressing here.

    • Anonymous says:

      The person tested positive AFTER they returned and self-isolated with their family. They ALL had to know the possibilities. The questions is did they ALL really do the self-solation properly. So that they have not taken it outside the household?

  10. Anonymous says:

    BVI is shutting down 24/7 starting Sunday for 10 days…They have given their people notice to buy 14 days worth of groceries and stay indoors..

    We are small enough to do this and get ahead of this thing..For those that don’t want to comply, arrest them, let them see what a jail looks like for a night. This foolishness about being warned for prosecution isn’t working. We don’t even have a clue when the courts will re-open..

    We have to stop bending rules for everyone or we will never get out in front of this..

    • Anonymous says:

      Go to BVI then.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cop on a Thursday: What are you doing out when your last name starts with E?
        Guy: I’m going to get food.

        Cop to another guy on a Thursday: What are you doing out when your last name starts with E?
        Guy: That’s my father’s name. I go by my mother’s name. Ask anyone.

        Cop to a lady on a Thursday: What are you doing out when your last name starts with E?
        Lady: Oh, sorry, wrong idea. Here take my driver’s licence. My married name starts with R.

        Cop to another lady on a Thursday: What are you doing out when your last name starts with E?
        Lady: Do you know who my husband is?

        What could possibly go wrong with this current system?

  11. M McLaughlin says:

    The latest from our neighbor the US today, Dr. Fauci, the “Expert of experts” said that the US “can start to relax social distancing once there are “no new cases, no deaths.”

    Did I hear correctly, he’s an expert or quack, that’s just completely insane. This virus will mutate in different variants for years to come, they all do!

    My concern is that the CI government maybe making decisions based on this crap.

    If it’s left to this nut we would be kept locked away many more years, I guess it never crossed his expert mind that the virus might becomes endemic, then what, lock us away forever.

    How can anyone take seriously what these people are saying?

    Come clean!

    • Anonymous says:

      Instead of wasting your precious time posting about that Fauchi fool, you should get in touch with Cambridge University. I hear that they are still looking for someone to teach Stephen Hawking’s class.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mr Dart can charter plane to Korea…where are you now… LOL

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably not as far fetched as you might think – and Ken Dart doesn’t need to charter a plane.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Supermarkets should be delivery only. 2 splits in names? Ridiculous. We need 6 surname splits to cut down on lines if the shops can’t keep up with deliveries. Or maybe they should hire more to help?!

  14. Anonymous says:

    One thing is for certain, Alden has created a giant cluster.

  15. Anonymous says:

    There was a lot if traffic today, it resembled a normal pre-covid day!! What happened to the roadblocks, there were police at Hurley’s roundabout but they were in their cars, not doing anything?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Coronavirus: Why death and mortality rates differ

    Large article that requires some attention and intelligence. I copied and pasted one paragraph that is particularly interesting to me.

    “Heneghan suspects that one factor at play in Italy’s high figures could be not to do with the virus itself, but with bacteria. The country has the highest numbers of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance in the EU – in fact, a third of all EU deaths from antimicrobial resistance happen in Italy. While antibiotics do precisely nothing to tackle a virus, a viral infection can often open the way for secondary infections or complications like bacterial pneumonia. If that then can’t be treated properly with antibiotics because the bacteria is resistant, then this can be what kills the patient, not the virus itself.
    “This is an incredibly important part of the whole story,” says Heneghan. “And it is particularly prevalent in the elderly.”

  17. Anonymous says:

    Fosters airport needs to get a serious warning. This afternoon there was social distancing outside the store, but once inside, the customers clustered together, employees standing shoulder to shoulder with customers and gossiping, absolutely no concept of social distancing!
    Police please issue a warning and check the premises at intervals or shut the store down!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m not getting tested. Any attempt to force me will cost them the fortune they no longer have.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Andrew says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorance knows no bounds, smh.

    • Anonymous says:

      7.28 Your refusal should count as a positive test and you should be quarantined for 14 months not 14 days. That should be your reward.

    • Anonymous says:

      ET call home.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wish I could get tested. I was on a flight from Miami to Dallas in January with a Chinese National with a persistent dry cough. I spoke with her, she was going to a convention in Arizona. At that time little was known about the virus. I felt crappy about a week later, no cough, but just really tired. Not normal for me. I figured I just caught a cold. And maybe I did. But if we had testing, we could allow some people back into the work force to assist.

      When will antibody tests be available on island? Maybe it would help. Then those of us already exposed could perform some services without spreading the virus.

    • Anonymous says:

      The test to see if you have a brain is essential. I’m afraid you might fail.

  19. Anonymous says:

    200,000 kits. According to this article Korean companies are currently marketing PCR kits at $1232 a pop. Ouch.

    • Anonymous says:

      Money grows on trees here. They paid near a million for Ebola test which mysteriously disappeared.

    • Anonymous says:

      7.07pm Actually the link takes us to a site that says some kits cost US$132. each.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:07, Please work on your reading skills. Read again and discover it is no where near $1232 a pop.

  20. Anonymous says:

    How about utilizing the white elephant Cayman Airways to help get the kits from Korea. Air freight them from Korea to LA or Vancouver or even Miami then go pick them up with CALs 737-800. Not that hard.

    After all were always told by government the justification for keeping CAL alive is for emergencies. Think this qualifies as an emergency.

    • Anonymous says:

      How much is it going to cost? Probably doesn’t matter?

      • Anonymous says:

        A lot less than it will eventually cost not to do it!

      • Anonymous says:

        Of course not! $1,000 a kit, $10,000 a piece who cares! Just like jobs, we can throw those away like they are going out of style. Easy come, easy go!

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right. If this isn’t an emergency then what is? Go get the tests!!

    • Anonymous says:

      only problem is Cayman Airways doesn’t have an 737-800. If they did they could pick them up on the West Coast..

  21. Anonymous says:

    I hope it was worth it to allow a few high income people freedoms that the masses have been denied. There is no other logical explanation for the decisions that were made. Other then just idiocy. And Alden is not an idiot. Okay Seymour is a total joke, but this is a money issue.

    Who has it, who wields it.

    Hopefully wiser persons will be at the helm soon, because this is no joke.

    • Anonymous says:

      If someone took Seymour’s phone off him I think he’d have a meltdown. All he does is play with the damn thing. Sit up and pay attention man. This is your portfolio. At last pretend to be interested.

    • Anonymous says:

      @6.24 Pure made up stuff. The names were not released so you are only guessing and putting your own bias on things

  22. Anonymous says:

    I would also really like to see government acquire the antibody test. This will allow people who may already have the antibody to return to their regular life.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Selfish people, you mean, who don’t particularly care if they are still shedding virus? Nobody yet knows whether those who have recovered are finished with Covid-19. In Japan there is an (approximate) 15% that are either reinfected or the virus was so dormant that testing couldn’t quantify it. Neither option are good, right?

      It is WAY too soon to say this or that person is free to move about the island. We have a chance, right now, to possibly contain it. That means total dedication to the protocols by everyone. The behaviour I see around me…. I doubt we can contain it; we are going down the same road as other places that didn’t change until it was upon them. I have hope, but it is dwindling. Be safe and stay home everybody. We’ve had weeks now to stock up.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, pleeeeaaase! You are a real moron! The only guarantee in this life is that each and everyone would die.
        Stay home, but make sure you won’t slip on a banana peel.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is still being developed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    CNS question was valid and it was brushed off.

    • Jotnar says:

      It was brushed off because there is no rational reply. Lets face it, if there hadn’t been a storm of protest over the BA flight the [premier wouldn’t have changed his position fro self isolation for them to government quarantine either.

    • Anon says:

      6.02pm Exactly right. Why are we all suffering increasing lockdowns when the ever increasing clusters of the virus are only in “self quarantine” without proper monitoring. Why are the BA passengers being locked away under police guard when these extended families with the disease are not treated the same?.

      • Anonymous says:

        To 7.02pm They are trying to keep them (and you) from starting their very own clusters.

        • Anon says:

          1.50am Please explain who “they” are and exactly what they are doing to keep these cluster people at home and prevent them from having visitors. Why the contrast in treatment between the “clusters” and the arrivals from the UK. Does ethnicity play a part?

      • Anonymous says:

        To 7.02 The reason for the different treatment is simple: the BA passengers will not have been in contact with anyone locally and if anyone of them develops Covid 19, .community spread can be contained by keeping them quarantined. Those local cases have more than likely already contaminated family members hence they are isolated at home.( in other words community spread has probably already occurred). I do however hope that some sort of control is put in place to keep home isos at home.

        • Anon says:

          2.28pm Your last sentence is the key, without control of these people we are all wasting our time sitting at home all day.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Keep up the good work and just charter a plane to bring the kits from Korea.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Well done to all involved in getting the test kits. I remain very impressed with the Cayman response to the threat of Covid-19 from our political leaders down to those who minimize social interaction by respecting the shelter at home policy. I am confident Cayman can get through this with very few deaths. I think I read Cayman has 40 ventilators but this seems like a very high number for such as small population: is this correct?

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