It’s almost inevitable that with the reopening of the borders to international travel, albeit limited initially to land-based tourism, will come a rise in COVID-19 cases in Cayman.
Given global trends with the rampaging spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, the certainty of more cases becomes a matter for concern.
Recently there has been a noted increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases being tested among travellers arriving in Cayman.
This is concerning, particularly when there’s still only limited air travel.
Mitigating the risks of an increase in cases is vital.
The examples where this has been less than successful are already noticed in several Caribbean and other countries that have opened their borders and relaxed restrictions - only to reimpose them, oftentimes harsher than the previous iterations.
It is clear that here in Cayman - and globally - the realisation is dawning on us that we’ll have to come to terms with the presence of the virus - and its variants - that causes the COVID-19 disease. In other words, we’ll just have to learn to live with it. How we live with it then becomes the issue.
But whereas prevention is better than cure, in this situation there’s yet no known cure for COVID-19. That makes prevention all the more important.
The vaccine is the passport in the broadest terms to control the spread ad severity of infection of the disease.
Not only is prevention a personal responsibility, it’s a community requirement along with the approved vaccines and the various protocols put in place.
Vaccine-mandate is a new COVID-inspired phrase that’s now gaining a foothold in the international lexicon as more and more countries and businesses attempt the delicate balance between personal choices and public community health considerations, alongside economic considerations.
These are not mutually exclusive, but trends suggest the balance is tipping in favour of measures that put public health at the forefront.
Recent statements by the Cayman Islands Government(CIG) urging residents who have not yet been vaccinated to take the jab, are becoming more resonant with each passing day leading to the initial ‘soft opening’ of the borders on September 9th, followed by the October 14th date for the full reopening -except for cruise visits which could start by January according to the government’s schedule.
However, the recent pattern of increases in the number of positive COVID-19 tests here is a cause for concern…though not yet alarm, we stress.
Even more concerning is the increasing number of reports of the quarantine and self-isolation protocols being breached.
That puts the entire community at risk and jeopardises the chances of returning to a semblance of normal life and economic activity.
With more people circulating once the borders are reopened, despite plans indicated by the government to reimpose restrictions on public gatherings, the chances of the virus spreading will increase exponentially.
All of this raises the question; are the current controls and protocols surrounding the reopening plans in need of a rethink with stricter regulations as a precautionary step?
That extends to how the people in quarantine or self-isolation are monitored.
As is evident in several of our neighbouring Caribbean countries and elsewhere, which have opened only to close again due to COVID spread, there are severe public health and economic consequences.
It also extends to a question of confidence; whether residents and visitors can be assured that their health will not be compromised because of any systemic shortcomings and the irresponsibility of others.
Cases abound of the impact of the now-dreaded and dominant Delta variant of COVID with its potential long term debilitating effects on personal health, and the consequential impact on families, communities, the healthcare system, the economy and the country at large.
‘Covid fatigue’ and a rush to return to normal are twin recipes for disaster in this ongoing panic.
Personal responsibility for community safety should be the watchword going forward. It starts with getting vaccinated and abiding by the protocols.
It’s no longer just a matter of “It’s the economy stupid”. Now, it’s more of “It’s COVID, don’t be careless.”
Can Cayman afford another lockdown?