Premier of the Cayman Islands Hon. Alden McLaughlin on Friday expounded on his approach to keep the Cayman Island, Grand Cayman especially, under tight restrictions despite indications that the spread of COVID-19 in the community appears to be slowing.
He was commenting following the latest statistics tracking the disease in line with the expanded testing programme.
Of the 297 results reported on Friday, there was only one new positive case bringing the total to 81. That person had no symptoms, no travel history and had no connection with anyone who is COVID-19.
The Health Service is investigating that case further.
The other 296 tests were negative. Of the 81 positive results, since the disease was first here, 41 persons have recovered.
There has only been one death.
Presenting the update on Friday Medical Officer of Health Dr Williams Rodriguez said further positive results could be expected due mainly to the enhanced volume of testing now being done.
He also stated that he was pleased with the trend of slowing results indicated by the current expanded community testing.
On that note, Premier McLaughlin again urged residents to be patient despite the encouraging results as there continue to calls for an accelerated opening up of the economy.
SUPRESSION STRATEGY WORKING
“We are now at that point because of the success of the strategy and not giving into the pressure to simply give in and simply open back the economy. The more success we have, the fewer positives that are reported, the more anxious and insistent people become to get their lives back to normal," he observed.
The Premier said he was aware that many people have lost jobs and their source of income and many businesses are crippled, noting that in the construction sector many people are keen to get back to work.
With Cayman now stepped down to Level 4 of its suppression scheme, it is expected that construction could be opened up once the territory gets down to Level 3 of the 5-step COVID-suppression strategy.
But Mr McLaughlin one again reminded:
“It would be tragic to have made the sacrifices that we have made collectively as a country and as a people and to throw it all away because we could not wait a week or two to get our particular business back up and running.”
Taking a global perspective in the issue of reopening economies, Premier McLaughlin said he actually felt that the strategy of US President Donald Trump might work.
In the face of record unemployment and economic decline but still rising deaths and the continuing spread of COVID-19 in the US, President Trump is controversially pushing to reopen the economy.
Some observers see that in part as an election ploy as President Trump is up for re-election this year.
But Mr McLaughlin qualified his views on what is happening in Cayman’s largest trading partner.
“I actually believe that President trumps strategy if I may call it that, will work because that they will be able to reopen the economy and as a result of so many people contracting the virus there will be significant herd immunity in the population."
The key issue he said was "at what cost?”
“What price are you prepared to pay as a country and as a people to get business back to normal and to get people’s lives back to normal?”
THE CAYMAN ETHOS
Expanding on the issue, Premier McLaughlin affirmed; “Our ethos here is that as far as it is humanly possible, we are not prepared to sacrifice any life just to get business back to normal.”
Emphasising that this has been his underlying philosophy and that of his government and the Governor as well, he said: “We are not about to change that at this stage.”
Mr McLaughlin said the government was putting more effort into ‘rampin-up’ the number of tests in the community in order to track and contain the disease and prevent any further spread of the virus.
In urging the public to be patient and to cooperate with the testing programme, he said it was more a matter of “when”, not just "if” the situation is brought under control in Grand Cayman as it has been to a large extent the Sister Islands.
On the point of ethos and values of the Cayman Islands, Premier McLaughlin had some direct remarks for those he felt who seem intent on prioritising business over lives.
“For those who believe that's how it should be, I’m sorry we just can’t agree and perhaps you need to consider whether this is the place that you ought to live and work and invest...because that is not our ethos.”