Premier of the Cayman Islands, Hon. Alden McLaughlin, says he is “really, really worried” about the risks of an escalation in the spread of COVID-19 in the territory.
Mr McLaughlin expressed his concern as another eight positive cases were announced on Saturday, bringing the number of cases in Cayman to 53, the highest in the UK Caribbean Overseas Territories.
(There were 48 cases in Bermuda by Thursday).
The Premier declared that he was “quite worried” by what the statistics are suggesting about the presence of the virus in Cayman both in terms of the increase in cases, as well as about those persons still not complying with the restrictions.
He was particularly concerned that the cases now manifesting are locally transmitted which points to the extent of the virus in the community.
Speaking on Saturday Premier McLaughlin said the Government would immediately move to close the public beaches on Easter Monday to prevent an expected surge of holiday activity.
In making the announcement during Saturday’s live press conference, Premier McClaughlin declared, “Those are the things that really, really exacerbate the risk of contagion.”
He warned that “if we relax this now, within a month we are going to be worse than New York.”
The Premier was concerned that many people, based on police reports and other observations with the Easter weekend, are not adhering to the restrictions especially during the period of the soft curfew.
He announced that Government will move swiftly to enact changes to the existing regulations to include the closure of the public beaches on Easter Monday.
Mr McLaughlin said he was receiving reports even during the live press conference of people setting up “drinks coolers and partying on the beaches”.
The Premier said the concern about the community spread of the virus extended to some of those people who he suggested might themselves be asymptomatic carriers without they even realising it.
He was also particularly worried about what might develop in the next two weeks, the approximate time it takes for the virus to incubate and develop into a full-blown COVID-19 infection.
Premier McLaughlin repeated his warning to those persons who would act so irresponsibly, that they are not only putting themselves at risk, but their friends, family and the community.
The concerns voiced by Mr McLaughlin echoed the daily report of Police Commissioner Derek Byrne.
The Commissioner said his officers had come across several instances of people partying on the beaches, especially Seven Mile Beach, and doing so under the guise of exercising.
They were dispersed by police.
Commissioner Byrne said he was concerned that “people are still not taking the situation seriously enough, especially on the beaches.”
He said many were hanging around and assembling in groups larger than the two permitted under the soft curfew regulations with the allowance for ninety minutes of exercise daily.
In commenting on the concerning situation, His Excellency, Governor Martyn Roper, added his voice to the concerns expressed by the Premier.
In a direct appeal to those persons violating the regulations, he reminded of the importance of practicing social distancing saying; “we know the dangers around public human contact in this situation."
Hon. Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour, urged residents “don’t let all the hard work we’ve put in (to curb the spread of the virus) be eroded."
“If you think its hard now, what if we need to do this for two weeks?" he asked.
Mr Seymour said if the spread of the virus in the community intensifies, Government may have to consider harsher measures.
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