Cayman nationals and returning residents who have recently returned from visiting mainland China, or are planning to return will now be placed in quarantine for up to fourteen days since counting from the date they left departing mainland China.
With the immediate effect, the government of the Cayman Islands is stepping up measures to safeguard the territory against the spread of the Novel Coronavirus by placing restrictions on persons who have been to China recently.
Cabinet has approved that the 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) be added to the Schedule of Notifiable Diseases of the Public Health Law (2002 Revision).
Added the disease to the schedule reflect how seriously the government is taking the issue and it gives the authorities additional powers under the law to manage outbreaks of certain diseases.
A release from the Department of Health says where persons are placed into quarantine will be determined by the Medical Officer of Health. It may be in their homes in some circumstances.
Visitors to the Cayman Islands who have travelled to mainland China within the last fourteen days will be quarantined under observation for fourteen days at a location to be determined by the Medical Officer of Health.
The Department of Health is also increasing surveillance and observation of any person with a relevant travel history to, from, or through mainland China suspected to be suffering from the novel coronavirus in the Cayman Islands.
According to the statement, “that will also involve the removal of persons to a place in which they will be quarantined during the incubation period (up to 14 days).”
Officials say the numbers of people with a relevant travel history to mainland China who require quarantine is likely to be small.
At this time, the restrictions announced do not apply to Hong Kong and Macau.
Regarding the heightened preventive measures now being implemented, Minister for Health, Hon Dwayne Seymour, JP, MLA said, “We appreciate how seriously this matter has been taken and the expeditious actions undertaken to help us safeguard the Public.”
“It is important, however, that we all continue to do our part.”
Hon Seymour urges all to “remain vigilant and take personal steps to protect our own health, and be reminded of cough and sneeze etiquette, to wash our hands often and to avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of a respiratory illness."
The Ministry of Health, Public Health officials and the management of the Health Services Authority have confirmed that at this time there are no cases of the novel coronavirus in the country.
Public Health officials and the management of the Health Services Authority continue to assure the public of their capability to manage any imported cases of the novel coronavirus.
They have also stated that national contingency plans will be activated as needed.
Cabinet has approved a budget of up to $100,000 for the quarantining measures.
Two shelters have been identified that will be able to house persons as a first step, should this need arise.
For visitors who might need quarantine, designated hurricane shelters will be used, although alternatives may be selected.
Food and drink, toiletries and internet access will be available.
Locally, families will generally tend to their own personal requirements but where this is not possible, Public Health staff will be able to purchase and deliver groceries to the residence.
The Department of Health says, “It is our goal to ensure those quarantined are comfortable, well attended by Public Health staff, and have access to outside communication such as internet access.”
Persons without any symptoms but whose relatives are quarantined in their home are advised to maintain the recommended advice about simple infection control measures.
Those include frequent hand cleansing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Persons who are quarantined must not have any physical contact or exposure with anyone apart from the controlled exposure to Public Health officials – this is part of the home quarantine requirements.
Families who have travelled together would be quarantined together.
If a child needed to be quarantined in their own right, this would be considered on a case by case basis.
The new regulations enacted by the government mean that persons currently being asked to stay at home under quarantine are legally required to do so.
Other than by phone, contact with people with a relevant travel history is not permitted until after the period of quarantine.
Public Health Cayman stresses that these measures need to be followed by all concerned to reduce the risk of any potential spread of the novel coronavirus disease in the Cayman Islands.