“It’s almost like everyone is in jail in their own country.”
Sombre words from the Cayman Islands Hon. Minister for Health, Dwayne Seymour.
The cabinet minister who regularly appears on the government’s daily COVID-19 press briefings was at the time responding to a question about the role of spirituality in this ongoing public health crisis.
Asked if he believed that “self-motivation and a foundation of spiritual beliefs will assist in improving individuals’ health conditions particularly during this epidemic”, the Minister replied in the affirmative.
Hon. Seymour who normally starts his contribution to the press conference with scriptural references also referred to a call for fasting.
“These are things that help persons of faith cope with what we are dealing with right now,” he said.
“This is an unheard of time,” he added. "There’s a lot of confusion right now.”
Mr Seymour reminded of the government-funded Mental Health Hotline as one of the tools to help people cope with what is a period of immense stress and uncertainty across all sectors of the society.
As he put it: “There’s no place for anyone to go. Everyone is pretty much stuck. It’s almost as if everyone is in jail in their own country.”
In welcoming the feedback from the public to the information and updates provided via the daily press briefings (which are more frequent than some other Caribbean neighbours), the Health Minister said it helps the society “cope with what we are dealing with right now.”
Cayman Islands is one of the smaller Caribbean territories hardest hit by the pandemic with 53 cases reported to date.
However, it is among the best medically equipped to manage the outbreak.
A big challenge for the government is community-spread with most of the recent cases now confirmed as being acquired locally.
An aggressive campaign of public information combined with alternating hard overnight and soft daytime curfews is meant to restrict public gatherings and slow down the spread of the virus in the community.
While in the main it has succeeded in reducing public interaction, there are nevertheless several instances reported by the police in which persons seem not to be grasping the life or death seriousness of the crisis.
It’s a concern for Mr Seymour, especially as Health Minister.
He has been at pains in emphasing the importance of people following the rules by staying at home unless they have proper reasons to be out.
He has also warned that if breaches persist the government might to consider the option of intensifying the restriction on public movement.
The cabinet member also lauded the leadership of Premier Alden McLaughlin during this crisis.
“The Premier, he’s tough as nails and continues to work tirelessly for this country,” he opined.
He also had words of praise for the territory’s British Governor, Martyn Roper, for “staying in the trenches with us and not only just speak from the high chair.”