A direct appeal for residents of the Cayman Islands to take the COVID-19 vaccination has come from Lord Tariq Ahmad, the British Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
Lord Ahmad was previously the Minister responsible for the Overseas Territories.
“The supply of vaccines cannot be taken for granted and each batch has a limited shelf life,” he said while urging everyone to take the jab.
“In Cayman, the expiry date for the remaining vaccines is 30 June. I must therefore implore everyone who can, to take the vaccine, not only for themselves, but to protect their friends and family, and do their part to ensure you can re-open borders and restart your economy.”
In stressing the importance of taking the vaccines, Lord Ahmad said:
“Whilst the first wave of COVID-19 was a shock, we have seen the spread of more infectious variants in the UK, Gibraltar and Bermuda were much harder to contain and led to more deaths.
“This is regrettably a phenomenon which many other countries are also experiencing. Now is not the time to wait and see, the vaccines are safe and effective, by getting vaccinated you will be helping your community.”
Lord Ahmad’s appeal comes the same week that Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee expressed concern over the slowdown in vaccine uptake especially among persons in the 16 to 50 age group.
Looking at the wider picture of the impact of the pandemic, Lord Ahmad commended the Overseas Territories for how they have responded and adjusted
“The pandemic has called into question all of the freedoms and certainties we took for granted, but it has also forced us to innovate and change our ways of working. We all hope that globally life will return to normal very soon, but we should expect that some things will have changed permanently as we move forward.”
On the point of economic recovery as the OTs plan their pathway out of the crisis, he singled out Cayman’s Global Citizen remote worker scheme as an example.
“Whilst this has been a shock to many of us, this is actually an opportunity for Cayman, especially as the world embraces remote working, placing the Overseas Territories with an opportunity to attract new talent and inward investment. Your Global Citizen Concierge programme is a good example of this.”
However, he reminded that hopes for economic recovery are intrinsically tied to continuing the success of the vaccination roll-out.
“As international tourism restarts and travellers look for destinations that have managed to control community transmission, the supply of vaccines from the UK gives the Overseas Territories a unique advantage to market themselves as safe places to holiday as we learn to live with COVID-19,”
Lord Ahmad said: “We need only look to Gibraltar, which had more than 1,200 active cases when the vaccination campaign began and has managed to reduce this down to zero, or St Helena which managed to vaccinate more than 90% of its adult population within four weeks.”
The former Overseas Territories Minister, who now is now broadly responsible for Commonwealth relations in the FCDO said; “I know this has been a particularly hard year for many in the Cayman Islands. It has been difficult in the United Kingdom too where the virus saw a dramatic economic slowdown and sadly many deaths.
“I am proud of the fact that despite the situation we faced in the UK, we were able to support the Overseas Territories, and in the case of Cayman, this included the provision of Pfizer vaccines, personal protective equipment and essential Public Health England support to establish high-quality testing capacity.”