Traveller isolation staying till year-end

| 14/09/2021 | 366 Comments
Cayman News Service
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee at Tuesday’s press briefing

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government will not be lifting quarantine measures until toward the end of the year and in the short term will be extending the isolation period for vaccinated travellers from five to seven days. Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee revealed that three more adults and two more children had tested positive today and there were now seven separate households where someone has the virus in what looks to be three unrelated separate incidences of community transmission.

The first person who tested positive remains in hospital but is doing well, as is the symptomatic student from George Town Primary School. The other two positive children are asymptomatic and contact tracing and testing is continuing at the school. Tracing and testing continues on the three additional adult cases, two of which are connected to the first community outbreak.

Cayman is now in a period of low level community transmission, according to Dr Lee, who noted that this leak into the community is relatively recent, based on the viral loads that are emerging in the testing process of those who are infected.

He said that for all of these months, testing of local residents going out as well as front-line workers has been going on and there has not been one positive case in those screen tests until last Wednesday. This further suggests that the virus, which is largely the Delta variant, has only recently arrived.

As he explained the thinking behind the decision to pause the current opening plans in the current Phase 3 and leave Phase 4 until the end of the year, Premier Wayne Panton said he believed the leak was likely as a result of quarantine breaches. Given the levels of anxiety and the concerns about the country’s level of preparation for a community outbreak sooner than anticipated, he said it was decided that the plan to lift isolation requirements would be delayed.

He said these were “very challenging times” for everyone, as we have not had to deal with these concerns for some time. “But we knew this day was going to come,” he said.

However, the day has come sooner than expected and he said government wants to further increase vaccine numbers, start the booster programme and implement mask mandates, social distancing protocols and reduce crowd numbers via the regulations to get the current spread under control before opening up any further.

He said the quarantine was to be extended to seven days to offer additional time for incubation, and the geo-tags would also be reintroduced when new regulations are rolled out later this week. He also spoke about the need to build a wall of vaccination around the vulnerable and children, as he begged more people to get vaccinated.

Panton added, “We need to be cautious and carefully consider how we address community spread.”

Governor Martyn Roper said that the virus could also have arrived illegally as a result of criminal activity. Without spelling it out, Roper implied those smuggling drugs, guns and people could also be the source of the return of COVID-19.

But however it arrived, it was now here, he said, and Public Health England had set out clear points for government to consider before moving toward further reopening. The health service must be properly resourced, the vaccination rate of those under 30 needs to be as high as possible and the situation regarding infection rates in feeder countries must be factored in.

In all three considerations Cayman needs more time. While the HSA is ready to treat patients, the staffing levels for public health are lower than the minister said was needed. While efforts are underway to recruit people from other sectors of the healthcare profession into the vaccination work, as well as tracing and testing, healthcare workers are in short supply the world over. The level of vaccination among the under thirties is still relatively low and Cayman’s feeder countries are all battling huge issues with the virus, especially Jamaica and the USA.

Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly also confirmed that GTPS will remain closed on Wednesday as testing continues at the school but noted that students had transitioned to online learning.

Technical difficulties interrupted the CIGTV YouTube broadcast of the press briefing below but the audio continues throughout. The Q&A part of the broadcast was recorded and will be available later.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (366)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Country already ruined.
    Plus half our beach is now gone.
    Dump is always on fire.
    Mass shootings are happening.
    Sure, can have a nice day at the beach once in a while and enjoy the runoff from all the pesticides (we don’t measure the pollution of the water here) – but that’s about it. The rest is spent in traffic.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is disappointing to hear Cayman referred to as Alcatraz. As a US property owner we have been unable to visit since border closure. Not willing to quarantine for 2 weeks or risk getting jailed if we step onto our porch! This is so unrealistic as COVID has to run it’s course and you cannot hide and be fearful forever. If you are vaccinated you will do OK so go and get the jab and resume life. You are ruining your country 🙁

  3. Anonymous says:

    Trying to shift the blame for community spread to illegal immigration is unhelpful. There is no evidence for this. An inappropriate 5-day quarantine period for travelers, along with lenience towards the dangerously irresponsible morons that breach quarantine regulations (what punishments have these people received to deter further offences?) are more likely causes of our current predicament.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Symptoms of Covid-19 MAY take up to 14-days to show. 5-days quarantine is not enough to ensure +ve travelers do not get into the community, and whoever advised this protocol should go back to the published research. Cayman is the only country in the world that has a 5-day quarantine? 14-day quarantine period must be reintroduced.

    Also, work permit holders found guilty of breaching quarantine regulations should be sent packing after their court appearance and maximum fine — no questions asked. That degree of civic disrespect does not belong in Cayman.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Travel changes for Britain upcoming:

    Abolish expensive PCR testing , to travel
    Accepting Lateral Flow testing to travel
    Doing away with quarantine to double jabbed
    Traffic Light system to change

  6. mantadancer says:

    opening uHmm … I was very pr0oud of the measures taken when the pandemic showed in the Caymans under the prior administration; yes the kicked the line in he sand a little more out and managed the influx of those people allowed to come back; residents, homeowners and some tourist.

    Now, I believe, the flood gates are opening, and we are seeing the results these decisions.

    I understand the economics of lost revenue In the tourism sector.

    Now, since the announcement of more restrictions, there is a lot of noise from that segment.

    seems like they willing to test us, and have very little concern for the general population, and it sound like the government is willing to risk this.

    People like Dart, Tibbits and im sure there are more
    are willing to risk it for profit.

    Cayman kind … my ass. Seems the people mentioned above didn’t get tha email.

    • Anonymous says:

      “ Now, I believe, the flood gates are opening, and we are seeing the results these decisions.”

      Except the floodgates haven’t opened – this has occurred BEFORE the airport reopened. This is either leakage from the same system we have had in place for a while, which is understandable given the breaches and the sheer number of people exposed to quarantined travellers who are not quarantine s themselves , or down to illegal travellers. Either way you may stop this outbreak, but it will reoccur irrespective of whether quarantine is maintained or increased. We had a good run being a mini New Zealand, but reality has set n.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can’t stay closed forever, the only way forward is vaccinations. Isolation from the world has failed in all of the countries that have tried it, Covid is coming to Cayman whether you lockdown or not.
      Get vaccinated and re-open, you can’t afford not to.

  7. anon says:

    we are fast becoming the islands the world forgot about

  8. Anonymous says:

    Given that most breaches involved visitors going inside travelers quarantine facilities, extending the quarantine and adding a tracker costs more yet solves nothing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Even assuming it was breaches that are the cause of the outbreak and not transmission to those that routinely come in contact with travellers or illegal entrants.

  9. And so on says:

    Does anyone remember the Faberge Organics shampoo ads from the 80s? Well Delta is this times 10. Ain’t no stopping it now. It’s on the move.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Here is my take on this..The majority are still suffering for the minority…Covid is here and here to stay. We will have to learn to live with it but there are things that we can do to mitigate the most adverse cases.

    Although this extension to the end of the year gives us a breather to hopefully get to the point where there is an approved vaccine for children under 12, the Government needs to take a hard stance and start implementing vaccine mandates/and or weekly testing to all front line workers, including all of those at the Port and airport, restaurants, supermarkets, hotel staff, civil servants, hospital personnel etc. This will drive our numbers up and get us closer to a better number, that even though we know that there will be break through cases they will either be asymptomatic or most likely if symptomatic not necessary to be hospitalized.

    Furthermore, unless you are Caymanian, no person unvaccinated should be allowed to land here. Any unvaccinated Caymanians should have to quarantine in a government facility at cost, not at home so as to avoid breaches.

    Thirdly, a mandate should be put in place that all work permit holders must be vaccinated within 60 days or be tested weekly at their own cost. If they don’t want to do either then their permits will be terminated and the employer given the right to employ someone else if there are no qualified Caymanians available to fill that role.

    We have the majority of people here vaccinated and we are just waiting on the vaccine for our children. If we do all, I have suggested and most importantly have a vaccine in place for our children before the end of the year we will be in a good position to move forward and manage covid cases as we reopen.

    • Dave says:

      Bring in other vaccines and more the more reliable saliva tests and home kits

    • Anonymous says:

      WP holders are already vaccinated. What is the next nonsense demand going to be? Ppl like you behaving as if wp holders aren’t the ones lining up for the jab.

  11. Annie says:

    Mr. Cat is out of the bag. Cannot put the puss back in.

  12. V says:

    This government is garbage. You work for us. Remember that.

  13. Anonymous says:

    A few more – try bringing in different vaccines such as sinopharm which is an inactive virus vaccine and thus less experimental and with less side effects. Also bring in more test kits for at home. If saliva test kits were available a lot more people would test

  14. Anonymous says:

    Plenty knee jerk reaction but again remain in no plan. So what’s happening with BA flights? Government paying costs of cancelled/full flights and compensation for the upset and total heart wrenching caused to families because of a few ‘expected’ cases?? HSA not ready for nobody being ‘sick’, imagine if they were sick! Pathetic is an understatement. Put on the extra BA flights and let people go see family after two years! Stop the other ‘essential’ travel of people going partying as has been allowed for two years! Travel time/Government, past and present … You have been found wanting.

  15. Anonymous says:

    No courage to open up and no courage to say we won’t open until we have a cure. Hell of a mess we’re in.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have a cure – it’s called the vaccine, yet they still won’t open up. Tired if being held hostage here.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I think it all points to HSA readiness. Appears they aren’t ready to handle more than a handful of covid patient that is why they’re in a panic state.

    One would think that by now all cayman hospitals:
    -Recruited (or trained and certified the existing staff) licensed and experienced respiratory technicians, therapists, doctors, nurses.
    – Recruited (or trained and certified the existing staff) certified and experienced respiratory equipment technicians who would maintain and service it.
    -Have purchased the latest technology respiratory equipment
    -Have enough Supplies, medication and PPE on hand

    One would think that fully equipped and staffed field hospital could be ready to take its first covid patient in 24 hours, should stationary hospitals run out of space. In 18 months they had plenty of time to practice.

    If the answer is no, none of the above has been done, that would explain backtracking.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I know that this was difficult a difficult decision for the government since, as with many other issues these days, people have become very polarized.

    People either seem to think that we are crazy not to open up and learn to live with covid, and there are others that are equally adamant that it would be crazy to open up given that we are certainly condemning some number of people to serious illness and possibly death.

    The reality is that no one decision is absolutely right or wrong. Despite claims by CITA that this means the end of tourism and catastrophic damage, the economy has proven resilient and will certainly be ok for another few months. Can some businesses survive an entire busy season closed, only time will tell. People outside the tourism industry also understand that lockdowns and home schooling will cause very serious damage to the economy (and frankly, with all due respect to the tourism industry, a lot more material economic damage). Anyone who thinks we would have made it more than 3 or 4 weeks under the original plan before everything was brought to a grinding halt is absolutely kidding themselves.

    We have a unique ability to limit covid in a way that other countries don’t, so to blindly suggest that we must act like other places isn’t necessarily true. Equally, as it becomes clear that covid is endemic and the vaccinations, while very helpful, are not the silver bullet people had hoped, it is apparent that at some point we had to bite the bullet and reopen since this strategy is not sustainable forever.

    A few things that I would suggest to the government to avoid pissing people off more than is necessary:

    1. Get your messaging straight. Dr. Lee bragging about how he was traipsing around London going to restaurants and other places *without a mask* is not helpful when you are reintroducing mask mandates. I appreciate he was trying to say that life goes on with covid, which is true, but this is the opposite message to
    “be responsible and wear masks when you are around people whether it’s required or not.”

    2. The fifty breaches. Thanks to Sabrina Turner, this has been a disaster. I have heard many, many people recount how people are not observing quarantine. Although Derek Byrne made it clear later in the press conference that they hadn’t seen people leaving residence and the investigations were regarding visitors, this has led to a cry to reinstate the GPS trackers, which will have no effect on this “problem”.

    And the knock-on effect of that no-one is thinking about is that this gives the government the excuse, or good reason, depending on your point of view, to limit flights, since they don’t have enough hardware to watch the people in quarantine. I know plenty of people who don’t mind quarantining if they must because they have to leave for various reasons, but the lack of ability to come and go because there are no flights is unacceptable and hurts the economy and people’s personal lives more than is necessary. People need to travel for various personal and business reasons and we are far beyond the emergency justification for trapping us here.

    3. Governor Roper. What a joke that the Premier is encouraging people not to speculate and rumor-monger on social media with wild conspiracy theories, and then HE the Gov jumps in with a suggestion that the virus maybe came from illegal boats from Jamaica! Maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. But unless you’re going to say for certain, what possible purpose did that achieve other than riling up all of the people that love to hate on Jamaicans? Talk about encouraging discord in the community for no good reason! The reality is that nobody knows whether it was quarantine breaches, drug-runners, or just incubation periods or maybe a combination of all three. No reason to throw that comment in there. None.

    I would suggest to the Hon Premier Panton that he spend less time letting his ministers ramble on and keep things brief. Press BRIEFING. Announce the new rules, take some questions and be done.

    Finally: if you’re going to continue pay all of these tourism employees to not work require them to register with WORC and ensure they are actually looking for a job. Why not find ways to put them to work, even on clean-up duty or even give them jobs at travel time. Perhaps they will then be able to clear people a week in advance instead of 24 hours before their flights.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is refreshing to read a post devoid of emotion and polarization. My workplace is now toxic with ‘medical bullying’. I’m am tired of hearing about covid and the abundance of experts on this forum. I have had the same thoughts in reference to us being in a unique position and we have never been like the ‘rest of the world’. You are right there is no solution that will please everyone. My thoughts are that this pandemic will pass just like all those before this one, with or without man’s intervention. We live in an age of rage, air rage, car rage, rage against anything that spoils our selfish lives, patience needs to be re-learned. Quality of life may be inconvenienced, but most still have a life. My reduced salary doesn’t go as far as it used to, one has to make adjustments. I hate telling my kids they can no longer have this or that because we cannot afford it, but adjustments just have to be made.

    • Anonymous says:

      Excellent post. Thank you for this and especially calling out Mr. Roper about his inexcusable rumor mongering.

    • Anonymous says:

      3 The elephant in the room that lots of people don’t want anyone to even talk about. I wonder why.

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