BORDER-OPENING WELCOMED BUT VIGILANCE URGED
By Staff Writer
As the borders are gradually reopened that brings a corresponding risk of the COVID-19 virus therefore vigilance must remain high.
That’s the advice from Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee as he delivered the latest COVID-19 test results on Friday.
A further 337 test results were reported on Friday with two positives bringing the total of confirmed cases registered in Cayman to 213.
The two persons who tested positive; one was symptomatic the other didn’t display any outward symptoms. Both were travellers who are being kept in isolation.
In all, there are 324 isolating in government facilities and 121 isolating at home.
In a message directed to persons who are being kept in isolation, Dr Lee advised:
"We are placing an enormous amount of trust in the people in isolation. We have a lot of systems in place to ensure that people are going to stay in isolation at their homes. But please ensure that you don’t encourage anybody to visit you because they are not allowed to under the regulations."
He further advised: "If you have any emergency work that you need doing please discuss it with Travel Cayman first. Do not assume that you can ask anybody to come to your house unless you have talked through the situation with Travel Cayman."
With the borders now being gradually reopened Dr Lee emphasised that “the more travel we have the greater the chances that COVID-19 might come back to our shores."
"Of course we are doing everything we can to prevent that," he added.
"We are doing everything we can to ensure that it stays away for good and that in due course we’ll begin to open up even wider hopefully with a vaccine available."
But he tempered that optimism by warning that the vaccine won't be a panacea.
"Even if there were to be a vaccine and if the flights go back to normal, we may still need to go back to using masks and distancing in order to keep us safe even though we are much much less likely to catch it once the vaccine is present."
The CMO however assured that in case there is an uptick in cases the government has developed emergency plans for such an eventuality.
SYSTEMS WORKING WELL SO FAR
The reopening of the borders to international traffic initially by air was also a central issue for Hon. Premier Alden Mclaughlin.
He reported that the home isolation scheme provided a great opportunity to refine the process associated with the reopening stating that it had "contributed greatly to the smooth operation on the day the international flights started arriving again."
“It was overall very successful and contributed to the success of Thursday’s start of the first phase of border reopening and us being able to move to the next phase.”
The new arrivals protocols scheme will be refined and further developed across this month.
110 persons arrived on six flights on Thursday and went into quarantine under the residents' programme and in government-managed facilities.
All had a test at the airport.
Premier McLaughlin dispelled reports of breaches of home isolation saying there were no reports to the police nor was anyone warned for prosecution.
Meanwhile, he reported that the 29 persons who'd arrived on September 17th and agreed to test-run the home quarantine scheme have received the finals tests (with results expected on Friday afternoon).
Once they receive the all-clear from the health authorities they'll be free to circulate within the community.
The reopening process was also hailed by HE Governor Martyn Roper.
Reviewing the current global incidence of the pandemic, Mr Roper again commended Cayman for how it has been handling the crisis.
“All of that just underlines the importance of the extensive mitigations that we have in place to manage the risk from incoming travellers from the US, UK and Jamaica.
He also set out to assuage concerns over the potential for a resurgence of the virus here now that more people are coming in - although in limited numbers.
“We do understand anxiety in the community about travellers coming in but it's worth underlining that there’s probably no other country in the world that has so much mitigations in place for home isolation…including steep fines for breaking the rules."
Governor Roper again urged everyone to remain vigilant.
There was a similar admonition from the Hon. Minister for Heath Dwayne Seymour who advised residents on a series of precautionary steps to keep the virus at bay.
These ranged from using the right type of mask, continuing to practice social distancing, good personal hygiene practices and even recommendations on trick-or-treating and hosting Halloween events.
In summarising on how the local COVID-19 protocols have benefitted Cayman so far, Premier McLaughlin expressed his gratitude for the support he said the government has been receiving for its management of the crisis.
“Everywhere I go, people are generally hugely complimentary and supportive of the measures that the government has and is taking,” he stated.
MORE REGULATIONS RELAXED
A new set of COVID-19 regulations come into effect from Friday evening and will be valid until November 30th.
A key feature will be the extension of public gatherings up to a maximum 500 persons.
This relates to hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other such businesses.
There is also further relaxation of restrictions on fishing which is now allowed outside territorial waters under the strict guidance of Customs and Borders Control authorities.
New guidance on mask-wearing means that all persons over 10 years old are required to have the appropriate face-covering in all public places.
However, persons of all ages are required to wear a mask when visiting a healthcare facility, elderly care home, prison or other detention centres, airport or other place designated by the health authorities.