COVID-19 positives grow but test numbers still low

| 20/04/2020 | 104 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Four out of the five latest positive results for COVID-19 were samples from people with no travel history or contacts to other positive cases, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee said Monday, as he revealed the results of 76 tests taken over a three-day period. But as government leaders focus on ramping up testing to get a picture of how prevalent the virus is in the community, the HSA still appears to be averaging only around 30 tests per day, despite claims that increased testing has begun.

The fact that another four people have acquired COVID-19 within the community is a reminder that Cayman is seeing local transmission beyond ‘cluster spread’ but we don’t yet know if it is on the verge of progressing to ‘sustained spread’ or if it has been curtailed.

Hospital admissions remain low, with just five patients in the George Town hospital; 29 patients who tested positive are showing symptoms but are managing at home and another 20 are asymptomatic.

According to Medical Officer of Health Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, the flu hotline is still taking around 40 calls a day from people reporting coronavirus-like symptoms, though it is evident from the daily test report numbers that not all of those people are being tested.

The battle to ramp up testing remains a serious impediment for the authorities because without more widespread and random test results from the community, government cannot manage its policy regarding the virus and cannot be sure its goal of elimination is still possible.

It is now more than twelve days since 165,000 test kits that Cayman purchased from South Korea arrived on island. While some have been earmarked for sale to other regional countries, the local government has confirmed that it is retaining at least 100,000 kits, enough to test all front-line workers, those who continue to show symptoms and many more people in the coming weeks and months.

But a variety of issues seem to be preventing the Health Services Authority from ramping up the testing to any kind of level that will give government an idea of how widespread this virus is in the community anytime soon. And until a significant number of results from people who don’t have symptoms start to come in, government cannot begin to think about an exit strategy from the curfews and economic lockdown.

Dr Lee has said that when testing begins in earnest, it will be a collective effort, with the Health City Cayman Islands helping with laboratory work and additional tests being done by the CTMH Doctors Hospital, the only facility other than the Cayman Islands Hospital that has a PCR machine and laboratory support to test for COVID-19.

Doctors Hospital has been preparing for almost a month to begin testing. Dr Yaron Rado, the hospital board’s chairman and chief of Radiology, told CNS on Monday that the hospital had been “waiting to be allowed to start for a while now. Hopefully, today this should be solved.”

However, Dr Lee said at the daily briefing on Monday that this was extremely unlikely. He said he knew “they are raring to go” but there were still issues, including legal ones, to be resolved before this hospital, which could take as many as 650 tests per day, can begin to test anyone.

It remains unclear when there will be a noticeable increase in testing and the details of the testing policy have not been released, beyond the fact that healthcare staff will be the first group of people to be tested who do not show symptoms of COVID-19.

However, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said other front-line workers, such as emergency service personnel, will be tested and the governor said that prison officers and inmates will be added to the list. But it is not clear when supermarket employees or food delivery staff will join the line, though given their widespread exposure to the community, they will be an extremely important group to test.

What is clear, however, is that both Premier Alden McLaughlin and Governor Martyn Roper have placed increased testing at the centre of government’s strategy for managing the COVID-19 pandemic and leading the country out of the current curfew measures.

On Monday McLaughlin reiterated his position that going forward testing would be critical. A significant number of people carrying COVID-19 are asymptomatic and therefore unaware they have the virus, and those are the ones who are “the most dangerous in terms of spreading it”, he said.

He said that “testing is absolutely critical to whatever we do going forward” when it came to relaxing restrictions and opening the economy.

See the full press briefing on CIGTV below:


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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (104)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So sorry Forbes ever published that article last month, clearly it went to someone’s head.

    Looking at data we are not doing well with this plan as compared to our neighbors. Jamaica has approximately 3 million people, Cayman has approximately 60k. That means Jamaica has about 50 times as many people. We have 66 cases, they have 233. They are doing a better job than we are doing, and with far less draconian measures. If Jamaica was at our level they would have 66x 50 cases, or 3300 cases. True testing may account for some of this, but we basically have done no significant testing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it interesting that Johns Hopkins can track covid-19 cases, a new virus, real time?What about other illnesses for a comparison?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Testing the jail inmates before the grocery store workers? So it’s all about friends and family first? The public (non Caymanians) will catch it from the stores before they catch it from prisoners. Your big plan makes expats redundant to Caymans survival. At least now we know. Thanks. We would all like to go home now.

  4. Anonymous says:

    See how a Nasopharyngeal and Oropharyngeal Swab is done.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syXd7kgLSN8

    Another video that explains Examplar Covid 19 – Test procedure using ExAmplar system.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc_Vd_Gwf2E

  5. Anonymous says:

    Risking be labeled as either “rude or narcissistic”, I think it’s important to keep those in charge of managing this crisis accountable. The Premier says that he believes it is an achievable goal that we can “eradicate” this virus. He believes this can be accomplished through “testing, testing, testing.” Lofty goal but ok, let’s take a logical look at this. One of the main components of eradicating this virus would be to isolate those who have tested positive, along with all of their immediate family members and/or housemates, who would then need to be tested and quarantined away from the rest of the community until they can be sure to clear of the virus. These people would likely need multiple tests at various times to ensure this to be true. Then an extensive contact and tracing program would need to begin for the contacts of all of the individuals mentioned (or at least those who have tested positive, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic). And any of those identified and testing as positive would need to undergo a similar protocol. Unfortunately this has been managed, up to this point, in such a manner as those who have tested positive have simply been allowed to return to their families and communities and put on the “Scout’s honor system”. Very porous strategy that is obviously not working.
    Another more logical and comprehensive way of identifying positive individuals and achieving the goal of “eradication” of the virus would be to do Blanket Testing of the entire population, allowing a more complete and thorough investigation, followed of course by strict quarantine of those individuals testing positive in either a government facility or hotels with supervision (like was done with the U.K. students). Apparently the government is not set up, nor may ever be set up to handle this type of strategy based on their slow response so far and excuse after excuse as to why testing has not been ramped up by now on a massive scale.
    The other problem with this strategy would be the fact that our government has already given away half of the 200,000 test kits that they so proudly procured from South Korea. Blanket testing of the entire population wouldn’t logically be just a one off thing. The entire population would need to be tested, and then re-tested again at a later date to ensure that the identification and isolation protocols were working.. Furthermore, all individuals who did test positive (and there would be sure to be a lot more identified if this strategy were to be employed), may need to be re-tested more than once. Surely the 100,000 test kits left at our disposal will not be enough to achieve this. It would be interesting to know then, exactly what the strategy is that the powers-that-be have in mind to achieve their ambitious goal of “eradication”, not only how they plan to achieve this, but also, how they plan to prove it!
    Lastly, cannot the beaches be re-opened to the 90% of us law-abiding citizens who desperately need them to exercise ourselves and our children? Cannot the minority of people who elect to break the law and congregate with alcoholic beverages on the beach be given a $1000 fine and risk of jail time. Surely that would be a more reasonable solution to this that doesn’t punish us all. Stay safe Cayman

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lets stop calling people names and put a plan together…..we need to get on with it. 2 more weeks is not working.

    • Anonymous says:

      Could Wendy please ask Dr. Lee, if those testing positive for the virus, had previously taken the flu vacine? This is important to know, as they are saying that the coronavirus is also in the flu vacine. Thanks.

      • Doctor Aybolit says:

        You misunderstood the whole thing. Also, no one anywhere in the world is ‘asking” people if they had flu vaccination this season.
        I believe that scientists had missed the one and only chance to obtain valuable information on virus interference. If the data was collected in each and every country it would have provided enormous, unquestionable value in the field of vaccine development and its safety.

        Here it is :

        There was a study “Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017-2018 influenza season.” [US]

        PURPOSE:
        Receiving influenza vaccination may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, a phenomenon known as virus interference…This study aimed to investigate virus interference by comparing respiratory virus status among Department of Defense personnel based on their influenza vaccination status. Furthermore, individual respiratory viruses and their association with influenza vaccination were examined.

        CONCLUSIONS:
        Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population. Examining virus interference by specific respiratory viruses showed mixed results. Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus and human metapneumovirus; however, significant protection with vaccination was associated not only with most influenza viruses, but also parainfluenza, RSV, and non-influenza virus coinfections.

      • Anonymous says:

        By “they”, whom do you mean?

      • Anonymous says:

        Flu shots and the risk of coronavirus infections
        https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m810/rr-0

        “To investigate this possibility, a case-control study is in order as we study and care for the victims of covid-19. Influenza vaccines have become sacred cows in some quarters, but they shouldn’t be.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    We have the testing kits, CTMH is ready to go, we need the testing to beat this thing into submission and…..nada. WTF Alden? You are fast spending all the political capital you gained at the beginning. WHATEVER is causing the delay, deal with it! Today! If it is red tape and legal nonsense just cut it! You’re in charge remember? There is literally nothing more important, or infuriating.

    “Some come” won’t cut it this time.

  8. Anonymous says:

    New data suggests the case death rate for Covid19 may be as low as .01, meaning it’s no more deadly than the flu and a vast majority have no symptoms wharsoever? https://abcnews.go.com/Health/results-antibody-test-study-reveal-covid-19-cases/story?id=70249753

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you. Being blown way out of proportion.

    • Anonymous says:

      Depends on who you read. Average year flu deaths are said to be 60-70,000. We not only have that now, but already some 140,000 additional deaths.

      • Anonymous says:

        And exactly where did you read that 60-70k people die of flu? In 2019 WHO wrote there is an estimated 1 billion cases, 3-5 million severe cases and 290k to 650k influenza respiratory deaths worldwide. Ironically, the WHO paper goes on to say, In this interconnected world, the next influenza pandemic is a matter of when, not if, and a severe pandemic is believed by many experts to be potentially the most devastating global health event with far reaching consequences. (What a bunch of useless academics.) Any by the way, 60-70k plus 140k equals 200-210k. Global deaths are 176,404.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m quite sure you can find new data to support whatever angle suits your own feelings right now. We are just in Kindergarten stage at this point maybe this time next year we’ll have a much better angle on this and yet to emerge super viruses

    • Anonymous says:

      But in contrast, 90% of the peoples employment will be wrecked as a result.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Until we can test for antibodies to see who has had it and who hasn’t we will have no idea the actual statistics with the death rate.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the meantime a politician prepares for judgment day

  9. Anonymous says:

    They are working as hard as possible on this. And fixing the dump. And fixing the Bush problem. And trying to get reelected. And making the Frank Sound school functional. Etc.
    Does that make you feel any better?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The odea there are a significant number of carriers out there is a stretch. If so we would have a 100 cases. You’re looking for a needle in a haystack and with a handful of tests per day you will never find the needle
    The plan so far did work but the time has come for plan B. Lay out the rules for openings starting in early May follow South Korea’s rules its the only country that has a handle on it
    This as a long term plan will fail, its falling apart now and the police can’t stop it. More and more breaches of curfew, crime will rise
    We need plan B

    • Anonymous says:

      There could easily be 100 cases or more. We won’t know until we can test…..

    • Anonymous says:

      No country has a handle on it right now and some reinfections cannot be explained. Till the researchers know more it’s a stretch to throw caution to the wind and jump head first into the unknown.

    • Anonymous says:

      Open up the country, enough is enough. We have had one, flipping one, death from this virus. Home many will die from lack of XRT needed in Miami for cancer? Bet it is more than one.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think we are even remotely close to re opening especially with such a low testing capacity and close to no equipement being on the way. let’s face it we are not returning to normal for at least the next 6 months and I am not speaking about tourism, hotels restaurants and bars that in all likelyhood will not see the light at the end of the tunnel until a vaccine is readily available. All the more so that new strains of the virus are starting to appear, making a vaccine all the more difficult.

    • Anonymous says:

      i will never accept this.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you are correct. Not because we need to be closed that long, but because we have persons in charge who are unwise, uneducated, and unwilling to admit that they need to re-evaluate the situation given changing data.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The government needs to stop talking about the importance of testing and get going with the actual testing. It is the failure to get this testing off the ground in a timely manner that will contribute significantly to sustained community spread. Also, let’s dispense with the typical government excuses and delays and do what is necessary to allow Doctors Hospital to start their testing.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What would be useful in one of these press briefing is for someone to confirm where are the local transmissions be caught. This should be easy to narrow it down. It is either the supermarkets, gas stations, liquor stores, banks or from the delivery guys from the various restaurants. If we had this information then one could make a decision on whether I really need that extra roll of toilet paper. An informative community means people can make wise and sound decisions.

  14. Anonymous says:

    During the 1918 Pandemic the doctors prescribed spending time outdoors as a method to avoid contracting the virus and as a way to stay away from being close to others.

    • Anonymous says:

      How in the world can you seriously compare the 1918 society with 2020??? Social distancing was a normal way of life then due to the much smaller and less frequent gatherings. In today’s world, almost no days go by without us being in groups of people either at work, shopping, or just socially. You are comparing apples to oranges!

      • Anonymous says:

        He is right. Human anatomy and physiology hasn’t changed. Sun, sea air and barefoot beach walking were, are and always will be essential for humans to maintain health.
        Ever thought why retirees flock to Florida during winter time? They did it in 1918 and will be doing it 100 from now. Innate wisdom. Without connection to nature humans don’t thrive.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah , there was a lot of social distancing going on the the trenches in France and on the troop carriers coming over from the US.

      • Anonymous says:

        7:28 have you ever read history do you know what city’s are made of and how long they have been with us?

      • Anonymous says:

        History is our greatest teacher. Like Covid-19 the Spanish flu was originally concealed. In 1918 it was because of WWI, in 2020 it was because of a communist government, non the less it spread due to the folly of selfishness. It multiplied in the tight quarters of the enlisted. Much like those of our low wage earners. From there it spread across the globe with the movements of war time troops. For us it spread with global commerce fueled by high travel for the Lunar new year. Not that different at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      In 1918 we had no social distancing, we didn’t even have penicillin for bacterial infections. We didn’t even know what a virus was. Yet we managed to win WWI without Draconian shutdown measures. And Spanish flu was far more deadly and contagious then Covid-19. History 101.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why are British troops necessary?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. I think they are going to keep us locked down for a long time and they are expecting some serious unrest, as there should be. I had faith in gvt in the beginning, now it seems they are clueless.

      • Anonymous says:

        The British armed forces are the best in the world but I don’t think 12 members are going to quash mass civil disturbance!

        • Anonymous says:

          You overestimate the threat of the people who would be protesting – if someone yells at them loudly while holding a weapon, they’ll probably wet their pants and run away screaming for mama.

    • Anonymous says:

      See 7:49pm

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! What is really going on?

    • Juliue Caesar says:

      Hopefully to deal with the idiots who post on CNS

    • Anonymous says:

      To control us even more. Get ready for police state.

    • Anon says:

      The answer is follow the Leader and in Alden’s case that’s Xi Jinping.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lots of workers here with no work. Caymanians, Jamaicans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, etc. and they can not leave this island of no work. What do you think will soon start happening? Not letting them work is causing a bigger problem than catching and getting over the virus for most people. Until this starts causing problems for Aldans tribe of paid and happy voters this is whats in store for the rest of us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cos tings are goin to get ruff. Especially, after the upcoming hurricane.

    • Bertie : B . says:

      They are sending troops to protect the money in banks and gold bars stashed in Cayman / not to mention Diamonds and all other hard assets . Not to assist any citizens . .

  16. Anonymous says:

    One condition of selling test kits should be the buyer opens their airports to their people who are stuck here and want to go home. No people, no kits.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Why is Ecaytrade still not being reported and closed down. People are advertising junk and suggesting people go out on their allotted days’ to go look at it.

    • Anonymous says:

      They need money since Alden won’t do a soft opening of certain businesses. Who cares anymore!!!!

      The real issue here is we aren’t being told if anyone that tested positive was at any of the few open shops. We aren’t being told if these people were out anywhere! Or a district where this is happening.

      All smoke and mirrors from CIG.

    • Anonymous says:

      I check it twice a day . What is your problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you want to buy a car. I have not used it for a while.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure what this article is saying! We all want this nightmare to end as soon as possible. If testing is the fastest way out simply tell us when and where! Don’t blame us!

    • Anonymous says:

      We only have one testing machine and 2 or 3 people trained to use it..We should have been way ahead of this by now..We have all of the test kits but doing a couple of test a day is ridiculous. Buy some more testing machines and train up some more personnel. We closed or borders on March 22 that means that since then we have only tested 25 on average per day…We have 200,000 test kits sitting there!!!!WTF

      I’m sorry but Dr. Lee is fast losing my support…

    • Nunya says:

      I think it’s saying that there are obstacles that THEY need to sort out before testing can be opened up to facilities like CTMH. It’s hard but we just need to be patient so that things can be done the right way. No point rushing and then being faced with a worse situation that what we started with.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The blind leading the blind

  20. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, I am growing really tired of the excuses. First it was test kits, then it was trained personnel, then it was lack of swabs now today it is something else..We need to get whatever is needed to get this done otherwise this will go on forever. We are probably the only place in the world that can test all of their population and since early March we have only managed to test 778..We should be testing more than that per day..

    I am hoping that we get the private hospitals like HCCI and CTMH doing the testing soon as I strongly believe the HSA are out of their depth on this and whenever you put government departments to do anything they have proven time and time again that they are not the most effective.

    What makes absolutely no sense at all is that we bought 200k of test kits but only bought one machine..One would think that by now we could have sourced even one more..Lord forbid that this one breaks down.

    Come on CIG, let’s start using these test kits and for God’s sake don’t give away anymore of them. We don’t know about the resurgence of this virus and we will be left empty handed. Jamaica, Honduras and the like are willing to take our test kits but won’t even accept their own citizens..They should be the very last ones to ask and we should not give them anything. We most likely will need to feed, house and clothe their citizens not to mention do their tests before they open their borders again..In fact, if we do decide that we send them some of these test kits we should demand they open their airports for us to return their citizens otherwise offer them at a premium to cover the costs for taking care of their citizens..

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m afraid you have no idea what you’re talking about. Try sourcing supplies that the rest of the world want, good luck.

  21. Anon says:

    On a different note. I note that the Premier stated that the TB license fees are to be waived. Which by definition means forgone or abandoned. Then I read that they are only being deferred. A totally different proposition. Which is it? More slight of hand perhaps?

  22. Anon says:

    Of course “they” do want testing to start quickly and efficiently, it would mean we would be out of quarantine that much quicker and that is not what the draconian leaders want! While we are preoccupied with the effects of the virus we have become a malleable mass easily controlled! It would also possibly point out that the quarantine has not really helped as much as is hyped.

    • Anonymous says:

      You have no idea of knowing if that’s true. That’s like saying that after taking prescribed medication you didn”t feel sick, so you wonder why you bothered taking the medicine in the first place!

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s explore your comments.

      What would be the benefit of keeping people under quarantine for a couple of dozen leaders on the island?
      Do they want the value of their properties to decline and the economy decline heavily? Do they want their own families to be unable to earn a living or get an education? What would their end game be? Do they want to cause deep suffering to the people they care and love in their community?

      Is what you are thinking a sensical motivation for the leaders?

      If no, then what may be a more realistic reasoning for why they have opted to ‘control’ society for a period of time?

  23. Anonymous says:

    I hope the testing in not mandatory for anyone.

    • Anonymous says:

      My family and I will not be partaking.

      • Anonymous says:

        You are probably one of the curfew breakers…ugh!

      • Anonymous says:

        Neither will I.

      • Anonymous says:

        8.27pm I hope that they set it in the regulations that a refusal equates to a positive test with immediate quarantine at the culprits expense.

        • Anonymous says:

          You would do anything the TV tells you to. Good for you.
          Human rights count for something. Can’t force anyone to test.

          Just like the people who have AIDS around the world nobody is forced to test and if you have it then stay home. No. Human rights.

          You can’t make this shit up. People are sheep!

      • Anonymous says:

        Fine, then stay quarantined. Do not allow your children to go to school where they could infect other children and God forbid their elderly relatives.

  24. Anonymous says:

    And meantime the homeless and mentally ill in Cayman have never had a voice. Great Job Jon Jon and Alden. You all, every MLA, have proven to us Caymanians, paper or born, that you have an iron fist toward what is good for you and yours but the every day person that really needs your help, daily, good or bad economy, will never get it. We challenge you now, including Dr John Lee and Dr Lockhart, to move the Mental Health Facility forward now more than ever! We need it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Civil disobedience has begun, civil unrest is not far behind. Roper knows it and has called in the troops. Too late.

    • Anonymous says:

      Foods’ short as well, have you noticed some of the shops keeping shelves looking full but it’s just duplicate items that appear elsewhere in the stores. Dressing up. Cost u Less prime example, where canned goods and noodles used to be, its more flavored water to make the shop look full.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:40 please stop spreading fake news. These sort of stupid comments are what cause panic buying and create problems where none should exist.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes and the Priced Right enormous quantities of low quality paper towel and toilet paper nobody wants.

    • Anonymous says:

      I checked CML and didn’t see a video. What you talking about Willis?

    • Anonymous says:

      Nine soldiers is not an army. But then again too small a number to make much of a difference to the current logistics operation. So why are they coming. Advance party/ contingency planning for a bigger deployment? But if you are going to worry about it I would worry about the 3 civilians that the governor says are also here for security purposes!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Well written article CNS, now lets see how many of the Liberal Left, Western European Liberals and Canadians blame this on Trump and not the Chinese.

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