A sudden alarming spike in the number of suspected COVID Omicron cases over the weekend prompted an immediate response from Hon. Premier Wayne Panton urging residents to avoid large gatherings.
In an urgent statement on Saturday, December 18th, Premier Panton relayed that the Public Health Department had reported that a further 23 potential cases of the Omicron variant had been identified.
those likely cases, seven are in persons with no travel history which he said suggested local community transmission of the Omicron variant.
That news followed Friday’s announcement which by then confirmed that a total of four cases of the Omicron variant, with a suspected 10.
This startling surge to a possible 27 cases in just a matter of days plus the likelihood of possible community transmission of the Omicron variant, has also led the Chief Medical Officer to issue an Emergency Order to cancel a large event planned for Saturday evening.
Reinforcing that order, Premier Panton stated:
“In light of this rapidly evolving situation, I want to appeal to members of the community to carefully consider your attendance at any large gathering and to adhere to all safety protocols. The Omicron variant is extremely contagious and we must do all we can to slow the spread."
He further advised that in keeping with global concerns about the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, Medical Officer of Health Dr Samuel Williams Rodriguez urges Caymanians, residents and visitors to strictly practice COVID-19 prevention measures, including handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing throughout the Holiday Season.
Dr Williams said: "These simple guidelines, combined with the full vaccination course and booster, offer the best chance of protecting ourselves and those we love."
In a rapid response to the surging spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant, many countries have resorted to even more stringent measures to control the spread.
National lockdowns, travel restrictions, curbing public gatherings, vaccination passports and negative lateral flow tests are now being more rigorously applied already by some countries.
Some of these measures have met with protests with some people objecting to being vaccinated and having their freedom of movement curtailed.
In Cayman, which has just reopened its borders and relaxed some travel restrictions, it is known that in some circles there are suggestions to reintroduce testing on arrival for visitors and returning residents.
While the government has relaxed some travel restrictions to kickstart the tourism industry, the global explosion of the Omicron variant has forced it to enact a series of targeted regulations as a precaution.
These include additional quarantine requirements, having a PCR test in addition to the lateral flow(LFT), limited attendance to indoor and outdoor events to 100 and 250 respectively, a midnight curfew on bars and nightclubs until December 30th, and strict testing protocols to visit healthcare, homecare and prison facilities.
In his weekend address, Mr Panton made a direct appeal to appeal to residents and visitors.
" While it is the festive season and everyone is eager to enjoy socialising with family and friends, I want to appeal to all members of our community to carefully consider your attendance at any large gathering, that to be vigilant in adhering to all safety protocols."