By Lindsey Turnbull
As at Monday, there were 1,205 active cases of Covid-19 in the Cayman Islands, which equates to approximately 1 in 59 people with the virus. Over last weekend, Public Health conducted 3,693 PCR Covid tests which revealed 437 positive cases, or approximately 11.8% of those being tested showing a positive result. Of these 437 positives, 19 were from travellers due to leave quarantine and 418 from the community.
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee noted that these test results came in over a three-day period and that the daily average over the time period was 139 positive community tests per day.
Out of the 1,205 active cases, there are 70 active cases in the Sister Islands: 68 on Cayman Brac and two on Little Cayman. In the Sister Islands, 44 are symptomatic and being supported at home and 26 are asymptomatic. The total number of cases recorded in the Cayman Islands since the start of the pandemic stands at 2,241.
Dr Lee said: “Just to give you some idea of the magnitude of these PCR tests, since 8 September with our first community outbreak this year, we've done 44,248 tests in all.”
There are currently eight COVID-19 patients hospitalised, with only one of these patients requiring supplemental oxygen. None are on a ventilator.
Dr. Lee explained that supplemental oxygen “means having a little bit of extra oxygen other than room air. So that is good news”.
The Chief Medical Officer also described that some of the hospitalisations might not be deemed strictly necessary in other jurisdictions, but the patients were admitted due to the Health Services Authority taking a cautious approach.
More support needed
But while the government continue to reassure the community that health services were well-equipped to cope with the increase in Covid positive numbers, Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart wants to see even further support for Cayman’s Public Health, particular with Cayman’s borders opening to tourists within a matter of a few weeks.
Citing a number of concerns, Mr McTaggart said the Opposition looked forward to seeing the completed re-opening preparedness plan and receiving the assurances that all the Government's agencies are ready for re-opening.
“But more important than the plan on paper, is how it translates to preparedness on the ground,” he stated. “I have complete faith in the professional men and women who make up our health care services. But we need to ensure that they have the necessary resources and the focus of the Premier and Minister of Health to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help them be prepared to help the public while adequately protecting themselves.”
Mr McTaggart pointed to the incredibly high numbers of tests Public Health had performed recently.
“Public Health has performed over 44,000 tests for Covid-19 in the past two months alone. Yet, over that period, despite the Minister saying how well resourced they are, the reality on the ground paints a different picture. There has been a lot of stress placed on the laboratory staff and our ability to report the test results, update the public, and as we know, even our ability to speedily track and trace the virus is at a standstill. And this is just testing!” he stated, adding he felt that Cayman’s leaders needed to be “honest and frank with us”.
“We perhaps see a lot of good intentions gone awry, but more can be done by the Health Minister and the Premier when it comes to candour and speaking plainly to the country's people,” he said.
Minister for Health, Sabrina Turner, stated: “I understand that some people will be concerned by the number of positives, but this is not unexpected based on Public Health modeling and projections. We undoubtedly remain fortunate in the effects Covid-19 has had on our community. As the Premier pointed out in his message last week, we are not seeing high rates of hospitalisation or severe disease as compared to the overall number of infections. The vast majority of cases continue to be mild to moderate, with many being asymptomatic. We are well covered and well protected by our high vaccination rate, and just have to remain aware and vigilant with regard to our prevention practices.”
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez addressed complaints regarding the timeliness of Covid-19 data coming out of Public Health over the past week.
“The large numbers of positives necessarily lead to a great deal more work in processing results, because each result is checked for accuracy. For example, each test is checked to ensure that it is not a duplicate from someone already previously tested. This has meant a change in systems in order that up-to-date results will continue to be supplied regularly,” he explained.
The good news was that, as of Monday, Cayman has finally reached the magic number of 80% of the population having been vaccinated (first dose). There had been 115,481 COVID-19 vaccinations given in total in the Cayman Islands. Of these, 56,661 (80% of 71,106) have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and 54,468 (77%) have completed the two-dose course. Additionally, 4,352 (representing 23% of those over the age of 50) have had a third or booster dose.
[Please note: figures were the most up-to-date as at the time of writing, Wednesday 3 November. Based on current trends, figures for positive cases may well be higher at the time of publication.]