Public Health still struggling to cope

| 19/11/2021 | 126 Comments
Cayman News Service
Health Minister Sabrina Turner at Thursday’s press briefing

(CNS): Tasked with dealing with the fallout from the worsening local outbreak of COVID-19, the Public Health Department is still short handed and the health ministry is continuing to shuffle staff and resources to enable the department to cope with its workload. From manning the Flu Hotline and PCR testing to reporting the numbers and administering vaccines, Public Health has a major role in all of the aspects of the pandemic.

Fifty-two temporary positions have already been added to cope with the COVID response across the health service and the PHD. But with more than 5,000 people in isolation, over 3,550 of whom are positive but dealing with the virus locked down at home, and a surge in demand for booster shots, Public Health is stretched to the limits. 

Health Minister Sabrina Turner accepted that not everything has been going as smoothly as people would want in managing the surge in cases, but speaking at the press briefing on Thursday, she said much was being done to improve matters.

Turner said that the Flu Hotline has been expanded with additional staff and is operating from a new location, though she admitted that waiting time for callers is still up to five minutes given the high demand. 

As she listed some of the changes and developments that officials hope will make a difference, the minister said the Health Services Authority plans to expand the operating hours of its dedicated Flu Clinic soon. And with an increase in demand for the vaccine, administrative staff are being redeployed to help there as well as the HSA juggles resources to cover what Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee has officer described as a “crisis”.

The self-reporting of positive cases from lateral flow testing to Public Health has now been automated, which the minister said will make it easier for people to securely inform the PHD of their COVID positive status, a legal obligation under the Public Health Act. 

Meanwhile, Turner said that work is underway to address the backlog of isolation letters. A new isolation request and release form is expected to be implemented within a few days to speed up the process. Anyone who tests positive following a PCR test can use the letter for an employer or to request the government stipend and for release after a negative test.

The battle to get people tested at the end of their isolation period continues, given the significant numbers of people who are positive or in quarantine with someone who is. Public Health is contacting people the day before their isolation is due to end, as they can now attend the PCR Exit Testing Centres that have been established in the districts. Anyone unable to get to the centres can still arrange to be tested at home.

Public Health is dealing with all the needs for around 3,700 people infected with the virus who are at home, either asymptomatic or suffering only very mild symptoms. The hospitals are currently dealing with just 20 hospitalized patients. 

But as the number of those infected increases, more people are likely to be admitted to hospital, putting pressure on services, so in an effort to be prepared the HSA is now recruiting staff for the field hospital. Over 30 nurses will be starting in the next two months with more job offers and interviews in progress.

The hospital has set aside additional isolation rooms in the Accident and Emergency Department to isolate and safely manage the care of positive people away from other negative patients. The hospital has also converted significant portions of in-patient rooms to negative pressure for the safe management of COVID admissions.

Meanwhile, the stand-up field hospital at the Family Life Centre is expected to be operational within the next few weeks. This facility has the capacity for 80 beds, but will be set-up in phases, with initial beds ready by mid-December. This will facilitate the care of less severe COVID patients and enable the HSA to continue its elective work without interruptions.

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Category: Health, Medical, Politics

Comments (126)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why has Public Health not publicized the change in exit testing that a negative PCR is no longer required to end isolation. You now just need a COVID score over 32 after 10 days isolation. The Public Health nurse even commented that no where else requires a negative test, you just end isolation after 10 days.

    • Anonymous says:

      3.43pm How do you know your score without a PCR test? That’s why it is still required.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A few weeks ago they said they were prepared??????

  3. Anonymous says:

    Get vaxxed and give up the nanny state

    • Anonymous says:

      An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes concepts with opposing meanings within a word or phrase that creates an ostensible self-contradiction

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m covid postive on pcr test but on the flow test I’m NEGATIVE. I DID BOTH TEST TWICE, LAST WED&FRI=SCARRY! PAC LISTEN CAREFULLY!!! BRACKA.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you say so. The PCR is the more reliable, and once that is positive, you don’t get to be released by LFT.

    • Anonymous says:

      You did the LFT, someone else did the PCR. Failure to follow instructions properly is the most likely cause of your LFT not returning a positive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pcr tests positive early in infection while lft tests positive at later stage as thevtesting mechanism diff.
      Pcr will be positive even with limited virus as the test is done for 50 multiolications.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pcr positive lft negative means very low load of virus and you may not become sick

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the Government make the booster shot available now to all fully vaccinated for 6 months or more regardless of age. They started the booster rollout on 21 Sep and 3 months later you still have to be 50 or over to get the booster next week.

    It’s time for the Premier and rest of the elected government to show more leadership where it matters. The borders are open and the new variants are infecting all age groups. Time to accelerate the booster rollout and introduce at least requirement for patrons to be vaccinated at in door restaurants,bars, cinemas and other indoor gatherings where mask wearing and social distancing is not practical… And get the vaccine for the younger kids… And put more pressure on the Governor and DG to enforce the vaccine mandate for expatriate civil servants like they said they would and is already the case for the private sector.

    Let the Government’s actions lead by example and cut the blah – blah – blah at the community updates!

  6. Anonymous says:

    If we had merit based pay for our MPs they would now be paying us. Instead we are paying them to F-things up.

  7. Patient says:

    Sabrina, what happened to all the valuable staff the hospital got rid off because they didn’t want the vaccine? Where did that help go? Are they still fired?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The lack of planning for this surge in cases together with the government’s failure to do anything to slow the spread of the virus are resulting in the inadequate systems that are in place breaking down. We are where other countries have already been but government refuses to learn from their failures and is determined to repeat them. Even Gibraltar which has a far higher vaccination rate than we have is experiencing another wave.

    There is an interesting article explaining our failings here:

    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously?!! It’s mostly the locals that refused to get vaccinated in the beginning, they are slowly realizing they need to now to protect themselves. Government has been asking from the very start for people to get vaccinated. It’s the unvaccinated, lazy locals that you can blame, not the government!! All they want to do is be locked down at home, forever!! Truth!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Everyone from Cayman in my office is vaccinated. The unvaccinated are largely from elsewhere in the region.

      • Anonymous says:

        Define “local”? And as a vaccinated person that caught Covid from another vaccinated person… please cease the unvaccinated bull. Most of unvaccinated people here happen to be from neighboring island and in a particular industry, look up the vaccination rates for those neighboring islands/countries! Statistically, in Cayman, the vaccinated are spreading it more coupled with the fact the people don’t want to be isolated for 15+ days and miss pay. Not everyone on this island gets paid a salary, most have to show up to work to receive pay. If these are the “locals” you are referring to, then you have a point, but I highly doubt that, as your comment leans to imply generational Caymanian.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The vaccines aren’t working, covid is spreading.

    • Anonymous says:

      20% of the population (unvaccinated) are accounting for 70% of the cases.

      If the vaccines weren’t working, you would expect to see 20% of the unvaccinated population account for also about 20% of the cases..

      • Anonymous says:

        The majority of the adult cases are vaccinated. The outbreak would have been parabolic even with 100% vaccination coverage.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s spreading because people are not isolating They are not reporting that they are positive from home lateral tests either.

      People need to be prosecuted because people are taking this for a joke.

      • Anonymous says:

        Will never happen. We are in the bad place now and it’s going to get worse despite all the balling and dancing distractions

    • Anonymous says:

      A much lower percent of vaccinated people are getting very sick and being hospitalized. The vaccine is clearly working.

    • Anonymous says:

      3550 positive cases and only 20 in hospital – the vaccines are working.

    • Anonymous says:

      I found it guys!!!

      the commenter that doesn’t know google and research exists and that they could simply look up with vaccines actually do!
      Or even look for the definition of “vaccine” vs “cure”

      happy monday boo please do some reading today.

  10. World Class Parliament (salaries). says:

    Surely our hard working M.P’s should award themselves another payrise before Christmas, the cost of everything has gone up.

  11. anonymou says:

    Dozens of temporary staff who help work Public Health with Covid programmes this year were send back a few months ago. so this is why now short staff. they should have prefer to made those people staff permanent instead.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Testing, reporting, administrating etc etc. So ‘struggling to cope’ due to the (worldwide) overreaction to COVID, rather than due to having to treat people who are actually ill with it

  13. Anonymous says:

    She needs to talk to Kenny. He knows thousands of unemployed Caymanians. They just need training…..

  14. Anonymous says:

    STOP the exit PCR tests!!! No one is contagious after 14 days. Isolation should be reduced to 10 and it you get a negative LFT administered by yourself at home you are now free to live your life again. This is madness and effectively a prison sentence. There are so many instances of people testing positive at their exit test due to Cayman running the machine at WAY too high of a sensitivity level and picking up on DORMANT virus. This would free up significant public health resources and treat people with some more decency than these quarantine prison sentences.

    • Anonymous says:

      @5:50 stop the common sense talk, it’s too complicated. Lol

    • Anonymous says:

      Then if people are still showing positive they should stay home. There’s many other showing negative. So why are the positives on exit positive?

    • Anonymous says:

      People wouldn’t stay home for 14 days or 10 days if they can self release. People are already breaching the isolation because the majority are not being honest.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve had no symptoms for 10 days, took the LFT test, it showed negative. Went to get my exit test and it showed positive. I have no symptoms, not even a nasal congestion. So, I don’t know what’s going on?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Similar to other countries we have reached the peak of daily detection,it may continue one or two months and will decline.
    As most of us are vaccinated current clinical picture will continue. If more cases need hospitalisation, it may be better for all elective admissions postooned or consider leasing Doctors hospital for that for those two months rather than recruiting nurses now to come in two months time is a waste as the decline phase will start by then and no need of field hospital.
    We have to think and plan.
    The tourists will not be a problem to us. Instead local untested cases will be a problem to them as they are vaccinated and pcr negative.
    We need to come out of panic and manage methodically.
    Some one should lead .Democratic management will fail. It should be participatory managent by a leader . It appears either the leader is unable to lead or the Team is not together or some guidance is needed.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wayne and Sabrina need to have a chat then, because they claim we are ready !

  17. Anonymous says:

    I ask again, does the HSA have the capability of producing oxygen on site or are we still importing ?

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe it is produced on-island, but not at HSA.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank God!

      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t think so. I looked for a local supplier for my mother who has chronic lung disease and was told that it is all imported from the US.

        • Anonymous says:

          21 @ 2:48pm – there is a supplier of compressed commercial gases (PM Gas) on Seymour Road near National Concrete compound. Not sure if they produce medical-grade oxygen though.

  18. Anonymous says:

    All this umemployment and they having staff issues. Who is in charge of hiring?

    • Anonymous says:

      Just proves what many have been saying all along. Those Caymanian ‘unemployed’ are either:
      1 – unwilling to work when they can get handouts for free anyway
      2 – unemployable because they don’t have the skills/intelligence to carry out even basic tasks after training
      All this shouting that Caymanians are not working because expats are stealing their jobs really isn’t true, is it.

  19. Chet says:

    I have absolutely no confidence in this ministry im so sorry.
    I deal with them at every level and they have no clue.
    Last week hsa was under control they said now they cant cope and this thing hasnt even started yet, numbers and cases will rise and no plan is working for such a tiny island.
    Most of them are allegedly working from home? Hehe.
    Contracts of people need renewing yet nothing is happening and they are now working without a contract in gov, why? Incompetence , simple
    Please dont run if you cant manage the work

    • Anonymous says:

      In all fairness, Most of the people running were probably not expecting to “work”, and rather to follow in the example of the great Who-gene of West Bay, the great JuJu and others like them who only want to take up a seat in the cushy chairs of our Parliament and collect a pension after serving just 1 term and scold anyone who forgets that they are now Honorable.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Testing, reporting, administering….etc etc. So overwhelmed due to the ridiculous (worldwide) overreaction to COVID, rather than actually treating ill people.

  21. Anonymous says:

    It’s obvious from our case rates and spread that:

    a) too many people are unvaccinated (I saw 2 comments on here earlier this week from a teacher, and another from a hospital nurse, saying they are not vaccinated – that is a disgrace).

    b) People are not following basic COVID rules outside of their homes.

    Bit late now for these unvaxed idiots, first does then 2nd 3 weeks later then takes a few more weeks to take effect.

    At this stage boosters for all the sensible people who got vaxed 6 months + ago should be the priority.

    And why are people raging about the border opening tomorrow? Won’t have any impart – they will all be double or triple jabbed, negative PCR tested and avoiding crowded places.

    • Anonymous says:

      And shockingly not all residents at The Pines had shots!

      • Anonymous says:

        The divinely-protected pastors and missionaries that frequent often aren’t. They hold and shake hands, rant verses, hug and kiss as they execute their mission fundraising. They are like Bumble bees visiting every flower in the meadow. Vaxed or not, doesn’t matter when these guys are welcomed in, and protocols are waived for them.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if you get immunity by infection, it is NOT SAFE to right away get the vaccine. Because the chances of you getting a adverse reaction increases.

  22. Anonymous says:

    The last time I heard from the Health Minister everything was in order and going according to plan. How things can change in such a short period of time.

    • Anonymous says:

      18 months talking about how there was a plan in place.

    • Anonymous says:

      19 @ 5:19pm – What plan? That’s the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      “No lockdown means no lockdown” is kind “leave means leave.”

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh she only says what she is told to say, incapable of independent thought

    • Anonymous says:

      The Cayman Islands have had a long list of clueless “Ministers of Health”.

      My God, Jon Jon was the bottom of the barrel but most times this lady looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

      Cayman, health is a serious subject especially as a larger proportion of our population ages – stop dishing this subject out to people that are not equipped.

      Being a nurse “back in the day” or whatever is one thing but minister of health is another level.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, when you don’t have a plan that’s a easy statement to make…

    • Say it like it is. says:

      5.19pm Could it be something to do with the runaway spread of the Delta variant?.

      • Anonymous says:

        Couldn’t be. John Lee explained living with Covid was fine. Government knew what was happening in Bermuda and Europe. Franz said they had done the models and seen the secret results, and Reopen Cayman has confirmed we are all good to go. There was no need to mandate vaccination for frontline and healthcare workers. Hell, this stuff is so safe and under control it appears that we can even let it into our old people’s home. No need to arrest anyone for breaching regulations and causing spread. It is clear that any problems we have have nothing to do with Delta. It must be something else.

        Either that, or people should be being arrested and prosecuted for negligently and recklessly causing death and destroying a pretty well functioning economy.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a scenario. What happens when a teacher at the same student where there son or daughter goes is positive? What about when that family is a single parent family?

    Does the school government, or otherwise have a policy for this?

    Been looking but can’t find it. The wheels of the bus goin’ round and round.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a scenario. I work in a school. A woman in my classroom tested positive for covid yesterday. She will be out until Nov. 29. Everyone else , students and staff , are vaccinated except one. That one needed to stay home today and go get tested. Everyone else continues on unless they show symptoms. No lockdown, no isolation, no quarantine except for the positive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Daily later glow test though for all of you, right?

      • Anonymous says:

        I took one just to make sure as Thanksgiving is coming up. I know a couple other staff took them, too. They are not mandated by the school. They told us today that we are all vaccinated (most of us just got our boosters) , sit 6 ft. Apart, are wearing masks 100 % of the day except to eat ( and we eat apart), so if we do not have symptoms, we continue to work. Their biggest concern is if we had contact ( 3 ft more than 15 minutes constant) with the infected) and since we are socially distanced- that was a no.
        If any of us get symptoms, we are to stay home and get tested.

        • Anonymous says:

          Symptoms ought to be mostly irrelevant. Lack of symptoms means little. Just because someone has no symptoms does not mean they are safe.

          • George Towner says:

            Then we live in fear and paranoia. I’m not choosing to live that way for a small virus that can even be fought off without a vaccine. You people is why we are living under so many mandates and regulations.

        • Anonymous says:

          I thought it was mandated by government that all students/staff do daily lateral flow if they are in the same classroom as a positive for 10 days (unless another tests positive during that time & then the 10 day count starts over). That’s what is happening at my sons nursery school….

      • Anonymous says:

        On a side note, since last year this the third time that someone in the class has tested positive and it has stopped with just that person. IMO, it is because we all wear masks and social distance. Last year, we were not vaccinated and it did not travel thru the classroom. This year, I do feel safer with us all vaccinated, but covid is not engulfing the room when one tests positive and I do believe it is the masks and distancing. We are very careful about mask wearing and distancing.

        Once again this is just my opinion.

      • Anonymous says:

        I had a lateral glow last night.

    • Anonymous says:

      You must live in the first world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell us you don’t live in Cayman without telling us you don’t live in Cayman

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not live in Cayman. If I did, I would have been locked down for a month already.

        • Please go away says:

          So why the hell are you commenting about cases and tests and schools?

          Seriously this is silly.

  25. Anonymous says:

    How they said they was ready for opening the borders. Now they say the field Hospital will be ready by the middle of next month , please correct me if i am wrong , thank you

  26. Anonymous says:

    If they didn’t pay the CEO and Deputy CEO such ridiculous salaries then they could hire more staff where it matters….
    What does this say about Lizette etc ?? Had a year to prepare and still failing….. = FAILURES

    • Anonymous says:

      They know LFTs are coming almost a month agom why they didnt prepare on how to reort and how to get automated. They are planning after the fact. They say adding staff ,for what unnecessary desk work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Forget the vaccine, keep drinking that haterade, that’ll save ya!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think the amount that they pay them matters. I think their competence is the question.

    • Anonymous says:

      She been a failure, you expected more from her?

  27. Anonymous says:

    And this is just the beginning …..
    Count on more than 100 deaths in the next few months. 2% of total cases.
    And we already have relatively double the amount of infected people compared to the rest of the world.
    Masks should be mandatory everywhere. And get your vaccine.
    This is just the beginning.

    • Anonymous says:

      Vaccine clinic still open. You should go.

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand the dislikes on this comment, but the writer is correct. It is what the statistics tell us what will happen.
      1 infect another, 2 infect 4, 4 infect 8, see where this is going ?

    • Wert says:

      2% of total cases? Infection fatality rate is now closer to 0.2% and vaccination reduces death risks 32 fold. If some is unjabbed that is their problem now, especially if they are older or fatter.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nobody callously deserves an accelerated death by isolated COVID suffocation, even if it’s because they have relied on unreliable info sources. Similarly, someone with a precondition, doesn’t have it coming to them in this way. Appalling that disgusting animals want to write-off entire demographics of this society, who, perhaps through no fault of their own, need our continued patience, help, and empathy the most. As we transition into our own death realities, if anyone hears anyone else vocalise these sentiments out loud, about our neighbours in this society, please deliver them the slap in the face they are asking for, from the friends and families that are in, or soon to be going through this pain.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fake news. The overall Covid mortality rate is not 0.2%. It varies from country to country, but 2% is probably a close enough global average. Being vaccinated, however, does indeed lower the mortality rate to well under 1%.

    • Anonymous says:

      Numbers are dropping already. It takes time. People need to continue to wear masks and social distance.

  28. Anonymous says:

    maybe just test people in the risk groups and their contacts?

  29. Anonymous says:

    The wheels are coming off. We are not ready. This is not safe. People will die. No one will be responsible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Panic!!! Everybody panic!!! *Froths at the mouth*

      • Anonymous says:

        No. Very calm. There is now an inevitability. We have been misled by people whose job it was to know better. The pandemic is natural. Our failure to respond adequately is a man-made disaster.

  30. Mwah says:

    In other news, vaccinated covid deaths during this wave remains zero.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kindly stfu. The unvaccinated deaths remain at 0 too as those who have died did not die of Covid.

  31. Anonymous says:

    They would have no issue if they were to put a stop to the asinine panic testing regime.

  32. Anonymous says:

    They need to stop exit tests. None of the USA, Canada or the UK require PCR tests at the end of the isolation period. This is unnecessary and it’s increasing their workload for no good reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like you’re still in quarantine after your 10 or 14 days, and testing positive on exit, and won’t be released until you’re negative.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed! Many people persistently test positive for a period of time after infection, but they’re no longer shedding infective virus. Would be better to reallocate resources where they make a meaningful impact on our public health response.

      • Anonymous says:

        100 percent true.where from our authorities getting advice

      • Anonymous says:

        Which is why many people aren’t going to get tested. They don’t want to be locked up for a month.

        • Anonymous says:

          Or even report they are positive in the first place. Or why would anyone actually isolate? Why are we relying on honesty? Lots of people have no been isolating as it stands. So why would they isolate if they can leave on their own in 10 or 14 days. Who would follow up that they’ve been isolated for that period of time?

          The hotline is there but if they are understaffed then we relieve all the Covid resources for the community spread to really run rampant and infect everybody?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. This! I have colleagues waiting forever to be released as they’re relying on overwhelmed staff. I’m sure it’s the case everywhere.

    • Anonymous says:

      We are told we are following the U.K. for vaccination advice (no kids under 12) but why are we not following their quarantine advice? No exit tests required!!

    • Anonymous says:

      HSA. Is following their own science, don’t question it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are correct. But we are wasting our resources.we are behaving premitvely.
      Yes initially countries did exit testing of isolation.but experience showed people continue to test positive after 10 days even upto 3 months but non infectious.hence they discontinued exit testing.
      We should cash on others experience.

    • Anonymous says:

      A cycle threshold of 40 for the PCR test is way too high. In the UK it is 28.

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