COVID-19 testing to step up

| 14/04/2020 | 48 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): By the end of this week health officials will be ramping up the testing for many more people across Cayman as part of government’s strategy to manage its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation and mass testing are the most important elements in curtailing community spread, reducing the loss of life and cutting the pressure on health service providers.

Premier Alden McLaughlin acted quickly to close Cayman down and has stuck with the relatively strict curfew conditions, helping to slow the spread of the virus. But testing in Cayman has been very limited, largely because of the global shortage of test kits, supporting supplies and the necessary machinery required to increase testing to significant levels. As a result, we still do not really know how widespread the virus currently is in our community or the kind of experience we are likely to go through as the number of positive cases grows.

Until now, the HSA has also stuck with the very restricted testing criteria recommended by the World Health Organization, which has meant that the only people who were tested were those who presented at the hospital with symptoms of the virus who had a travel history or a connection to someone with a travel history. The only others tested have been those with direct contacts of those two groups.

But now, with 100,000 test kits from South Korea and more of the other necessary parts to the process, by the end of this week many more people will be tested. This will allow people to be isolated and ensure those on the front line are not positive.

According to a statement read by Health Minister Dwayne Seymour at the COVID briefing on Monday, a group of health professionals have been working on changing the testing protocols.

“The testing groups have been talking through the challenges of increasing testing capacity. This is not as simple as it might first seem because there are a lot of steps involved in testing for COVID-19,” Seymour stated. “The swab needs to be taken, the sample needs to be processed, the RNA (which is the genetic material of any virus) needs to be extracted and finally the PCR machine needs to be operated to look for evidence of viral particles.”

With specialists and supplies needed for each step, the public health professionals have been working to maximise the output of the testing facilities by combining the strengths of all the three hospital laboratories in Cayman. Seymour said that once testing is increased, front-line groups, such as hospital workers, as well as inpatients in the hospitals and a wider category of people who present with any respiratory symptoms will be the first to be tested.

But Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee has also said that other groups that will be a priority for testing will be those who may have been exposed to existing positive patients that have not yet been tested and essential workers.

Meanwhile, as the number of positive cases grows, the inevitability of more people getting sick also has to be managed, and again all of Cayman’s hospitals will be playing a part. Health City Cayman Islands can provide extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which provides essential oxygen to the blood, giving the lungs a chance to heal when they are most challenged. 

The HSA clinical management group said patients will “flow” through the system, and it already has overflow facilities being developed in the John Gray High School gym, Jasmine Hospice, the Aston Rutty Centre on Cayman Brac and others if needed. They have also been sharing the latest scientific knowledge about treatment protocols for the best management and care of patients.

So far, there are five positive COVID-19 patients in hospital and just one on a ventilator. Two are in Health City with no symptoms but unrelated health care issues.

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Category: Health, Medical

Comments (48)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What’s the rush to be open for? Unless tourists are coming, who is really making any money? The hardware store, clothing, shoes, beauty parlors, construction, repairmen, fishermen etc.? Tourism and banking is the people who move the economy. Stock market is dropping and we have no tourists. Until the USA and Europe start making money we are $#%^U@. Do you all understand this? Yeah Government has money for now but if you all don’t stay home it will run out. Enjoy being together, walk around the neighborhood, Get up early and listen to nature, go plant a tree (mango, breadfruit, naseberry) drink a glass of wine before going to bed. Wait it will soon be over

  2. Anonymous says:

    I respect Dr. Lee but he is not God. We have to be very careful and not just rely on one man to tell us that we need. What if this spirals out of control. The kits are good for up to one year, why not hang on to them for a few more weeks? Florida and in fact the entire USA as well as other countries around the world are in dire need of these. The factories can’t keep up..I believe this decision is wrong at this time. I have nothing against giving some of them away but I think it is just too early.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ve drank enough rum that I am not gonna get the rona.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Test everyone, Then it will make a difference! Have a drive through or group of medical personnel go through the islands like what they did when they did a census! BRACKA!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Trump defunded WHO today!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, you have to blame someone, WHO, “Jyna”, individual states and their Governors, Obama, Italy, Biden, the Democratic Party, but never admit that the President screwed up royally in January and did absolutely nothing in February.

      Never, never accept accountability.

      What a pathetic President. Very sad times for America with nearly 30,000 deaths today.

      The nightmare known as Trump never ends.

    • Anonymous says:

      For good reason. Well beyond your ability to understand.

    • Anonymous says:

      The mandatory US contribution to the WHO budget is about $ 120 million, or 22 percent of all accrued payments. American foundations and other nongovernmental organizations are WHO’s largest voluntary donors. On the other hand, the United States remains the main non-payer – their debt to WHO is about $ 200 million.

      The United States largely determines the work of the Organization and should not relieve itself of responsibility. Americans are widely represented in all parts of the Secretariat, including the highest echelon, as well as in expert committees, including the Committee on Emergency Situations in the Field of Health. Therefore, it’s ridiculous to say that WHO hid something from the United States.

    • Anonymous says:

      Be thankful Caymanians, if you lived in Trump’s home county in Floriduh, Palm County, you would have an extremely difficult time getting a test for the coronavirus today.

      Without widespread testing, America will not be able to open up until a vaccine is developed. Trump does not want a national testing which FEMA could coordinate and do but now states such as New York State and New Jersey are going to have no choice but set up their own testing networks.

      A total dereliction of duty by Washington.

      Cayman, you have it better than you may realize.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where is Who anyway? Gone in to hiding? Afraid of the ‘rona?

  6. Anonymous says:

    If we can go 2-4 weeks beyond existing case resolutions without any new infections, we won’t need any mass testing, and we can hold the biggest Batabano/CayMas/StPatrick’s Day party ever before resuming our local resident lives. Dart should donate a soft provisional booking for the Kaboo facility as a carrot for everyone to behave, so we can get there.

  7. Anonymous says:

    To all the pessimist naysayers who rail about the impossibility: Greenland tested 912, had 11 cases, and all of those have now clinically resolved, making it the first place on Earth to have successfully beat their first wave of Covid infections. The lesson is that on an island with no incoming travel, it is possible with effective isolation, to starve out the virus so that there are no longer any transmitted cases.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Inspirational, isn’t it? We could do that same with cooperation. Their population, while more spread out, is not so far away from ours.

      • Anonymous says:

        The significant difference is that Greenland does not have millions of tourists every year. Really not comparable.

    • Anonymous says:

      cayman is not greenland.

  8. Hurts to ask says:

    Are any private sector labs joining in or is this testing goal of 500-600 per day to being handled by CIG labs alone? I can’t see the goal being met any time soon unless the private sector is involved.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you watch the press briefings on YouTube, Dr Lee describes the chain of lab process. It includes all the best people and equipment that we’ve got – to whom we owe much respect havIng worked without break to hold the virus in the containable/beatable infection cluster category. Let’s stay home so we can get there ASAP.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Iceland has two testing systems:

    One is run by the healthcare system, targeting individuals with severe symptoms or at high risk based on contact with infected individuals or travel to high risk areas.
    The second is run by the company deCODE Genetics and is voluntary and open to anyone not under quarantine and not tested by the healthcare system.
    Iceland’s health care systems’s guidelines are similar to CDC guidelines. So, the researchers estimated who gets missed by CDC guidelines based on who gets missed by Iceland’s health care system but gets picked up by deCODE.

    The deCODE testers were not a random sample of the population. In fact, 44% had symptoms of cold and flu, which is much higher than would be expected. As a result, the people who volunteered for testing were probably more likely to have COVID-19.

    They dealt with this by performing several analyses, including one that excluded anyone with symptoms. When they did this, they estimated that at least 88.7% of COVID-19 cases go undetected by CDC criteria. When they included the people with cold and flu symptoms, they estimated that 92.5% of COVID-19 cases go undetected by CDC criteria.

    These are similar to results published earlier from Wuhan suggesting CDC criteria would miss at least 85% of cases.

    Overall these results suggest that only about one in ten cases of COVID-19 get detected in the United States.

    Of course, the true rate would require testing in a random sample of the population. Such testing is underway in Iceland, Germany, and Norway.

    • Anonymous says:

      Currently in New York State, New Jersey and large parts of the U.S. like Floriduh, it is very difficult, nearly impossible, to get a test because Washington (Trump) does not know or want to get a handle on the testing situation.

      Now 608,000 plus cases and well over 25,000 deaths in U.S. with no end in sight.

      Cayman Islands, you may think things are rough but you are doing much better than the U.S.

      You have lots to be thankful about. My suggestion is hang in there and keep your distance. Your problems can be managed.

      Short term pain for long term gain.

    • Anonymous says:

      In other words more than 80% of those who get Covid will not even know they have it because they do not even get sick. What does that tell you? Think about it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    yep..another soon-come update from cig…zzzzzzzzzz

  11. Anonymous says:

    Different countries are pursuing very different strategies when it comes to testing for COVID-19.

    Antibody tests being rolled out can broadly survey who hascleared an infection with the new coronavirus without knowing it.

    Keep in mind you don’t want a lot of non-sick people coming to health facilities and risking contagion.

    RNA-based diagnostic tests now being given by the tens of thousands look for the presence of viral genes in a nose or throat swab, a sign of an active infection. But scientists also need to test a person’s blood for antibodies to the new virus.
    Such tests can detect active infections, too, but more importantly, they can tell whether a person has been infected in the past because the body retains antibodies against pathogens it has already overcome.

    Now, when there is enough tests for an active virus ( still not being utilized though), are step being taken to proceed to antibodies testing?

    With new developments in testing, many purchased CoVID19 kits might remain unused, at this time at least. But they might come handy when(if) second wave hits. Proper storage at minus 20C is critical. Who is in charge of that?

  12. Anonymous says:

    500/600 tests per day? When? When it becomes useless?

    Challenges, challenges, challenges…more challenges…it has been how long already? Enough time to iron those wrinkles…. The tests are here for several days already….hope they are properly stored at minus 20C. at least.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop moaning. Think yourself lucky that you live here where we have enough tests for everyone and then some. Did you seriously think they could do 60,000 tests in one day?

      • Anonymous says:

        Is true that Gov is continuining to sell or donate test kits? 20,000 to Barbados but to who else and how many please?

        We need to be able to test the same person 2 or 3 times. Or test for antibodies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey 9:29, it takes in Atlanta, Georgia 10 days to get test results. So be patient and relax. The Cayman Islands situation is better than large parts of the U.S. and UK.

  13. Anonymous says:

    My family and I will not be subject to this oppressive regime. We will not be tested.

    • Anonymous says:

      My family does not wish to be anywhere near your family. When out and about please hang a sign around your neck showing you refuse to be tested.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe people who’ve been tested should be getting an all clear government letter and they’re allowed to roam free but those that haven’t can’t leave their home. So it’s fine choose not to get tested but just stay at home.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a boat that can arrange for you and your family to get to Cuba. Can arrange political refugee status for all of you. Don’t want you to be oppressed any longer.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for more testing: its the only way to get a grip on what is truly happening. But, does everyone understand that this means we’ll be on lock-down for at least another 3 months, probably a year? More testing means more positives, which means more lock-down per our Premier. He will not consider lifting curfew until we go 14 days without a positive. I’m not sure most have wrapped their head around this…..not sure I have.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just watch Cnn and wait for the New York and California open. When they open you’ll see how the game goes and who calls the shots.

    • Anonymous says:

      Follow what is happening in NYC and New Jersey. As long as 1,000 people are dying every day there, nothing is going to open up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s great that we have over 100k test kits, but if you can only run 500/600 tests a day you would be testing for the next 100 days to get through the population…if that’s the plan.

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