Cayman Islands Government

09/11/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/10/2021 20:58

Delta Variant Seen in CI

News

Delta Variant Seen in CI

Published: September 11, 2021
By: Bina Mani

At a third consecutive press conference today (Friday, 10 September 2021), Government leaders announced one more positive COVID 19 community transmission case diagnosed overnight. This brings the number of re-emerged local transmissions now to three.

The third individual who overnight tested positive is related to the other two persons who both have now been confirmed as having the Delta variant. No one is exhibiting signs of COVID-19 such as respiratory distress, including the one medically admitted patient. All three individuals are being monitored and all known contacts are in isolation. Further contact tracing will continue. So far, no child has tested positive.

Also, the Cayman Islands will be able to start a booster vaccination programme shortly, details of which will be announced when clearer information on current supplies and delivery dates is obtained. The prioritisation of booster recipients will be determined by levels of vulnerability, immuno-compromised conditions and seniority of years.

To assist the Government with their deliberations on the five-day quarantine and plan of action after 14 October, a conference call has been arranged with two leading medical experts from Public Health England.

Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, the Miss Cayman Universe pageant scheduled for Saturday, 11 September has been postponed to a later date which will be announced.

Following a breach in protocol on Thursday evening saw a traveller who tested positive for COVID-19 allowed to board a Cayman Airways flights, protocols are being tightened to ensure such a breach does not take place in the future. Further investigations are underway and consequent prosecutions are possible for those involved. The passenger and her companion are now in quarantine in Grand Cayman.

A further press conference will be held early next week to provide updates on all relevant matters.

Addressing Friday's press conference, held at the GIS Studio in GAB, were His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper, Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton, Health Minister, Hon. Sabrina Turner, Tourism Minister Hon. Kenneth Bryan and Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee, by Zoom who is quarantining after returning from the UK recently.

Also answering questions were Cayman Airways CEO, Mr. Fabian Whorms and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Williams Rodriguez. At the start, Pastor Alson Ebanks of George Town Church of God (Chapel) led the attendees in prayer.

Expressing satisfaction at the growing numbers of those getting vaccinated, primarily first timers, the leaders urged every eligible person above age 12 to get vaccinated since it has proven to be the most effective in preventing COVID deaths.

Underscoring that deaths by COVID-19 in two UKOTs - Bermuda and BVI - are predominantly among unvaccinated persons, the leaders again strongly urged all in the community to get vaccinated. There are currently adequate vaccine supplies for unvaccinated adults to get both jabs. However, should vaccine supplies run short, they would be replenished from the UK.

The leaders continued to encourage people to follow established COVID-19 safety protocols such as mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand-washing particularly if they are vulnerable individuals. Also, there is no need for the panic buying of supplies which was witnessed over the last two days, they noted.

Other takeaways from the press conference include:

  • The three local transmissions have no history of travelling for at least a month.
  • Such transmissions reveal that anybody could be exposed to the virus at any time.
  • The Flu Clinic, the Flu Hotline and the Respiratory Care Unit at the CI Hospital are reactivated.
  • The Flu Hotline is accessible at 947-3077 or 1-800-534-8600 or by email at [email protected]. Those with flu symptoms are asked not to visit the HSA Hospital but to call the Flu Hotline or check with their own physicians.
  • The Flu Clinic starts on 13 September and will be open Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm. It will be located at the far left of A&E at the CI Hospital with parking available for it at the Seventh Day Adventist Church parking lot.
  • Vaccinations were encouragingly up today; in the morning alone at the vaccination clinic, 290 were vaccinated of whom 230 were first timers and 60 received their second jab.
  • The vaccination clinic will take place tomorrow (Saturday, 11 September) at the Camana Bay venue from 10am-2pm and again from 4pm-7.30pm.
  • There will be a vaccination clinic at Cayman Brac on Wednesday, 15 September at the Aston Rutty Centre from 9 am to 1 pm.

The link to view the press conference in full on CIG YouTube channel is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsgMdMnfddg .

Premier, Hon. Wayne Panton's Remarks

Good afternoon everyone,

I thank you for taking time out of your day to be with us again. As you will have noticed, the timing of today's press briefing - and yesterday's as well - have been moved from the usual mid-afternoon time frame. As you can imagine, a critical component of these briefings is the most up-to-date results and information from Public Health, so commencing these press briefings a bit later in the day means we have as much information as possible to share with you. We appreciate the hard-working team at Public Health for all that they do.

As you heard earlier, ongoing contact tracing and testing efforts in connection to the community transmission case reported yesterday have resulted in the confirmation of one additional COVID-19 positive adult. Given the dominance of the Delta strain, we should not be surprised that these current cases include the Delta and we are grateful for the genome sequencing machine and other world-class resources that we have invested in that allow us to identify the variants of concern in our results.

Again, all three positive cases are being monitored and all known contacts are in isolation. We thank everyone for cooperating and peacefully complying with our COVID-19 isolation protocols.

I am relieved to hear that, so far, no children have tested positive and the children in isolation have been supported in their transition to remote learning. Being adaptable to ever-changing circumstances is essential for continuity at all levels including our education system. The Ministry of Education's COVID-19: Guidance for Educational Institutions will be disseminated to all schools next week. I will be inviting the Minister of Education back to update the country during our press briefing next week.

Last night, we all heard the unsettling news that a passenger was able to board a flight from Jamaica despite their pre-departure PCR test results showing them as positive for COVID-19. This was indeed very concerning. While all systems are expected to work perfectly, there will be times that something does not go as expected.

Yesterday, our system to allow travellers into the Cayman Islands was challenged and after the positive test result was missed prior to arrival, it was one of our very own Customs & Border Control Officers that discovered the anomaly which also demonstrates the strengths and redundancies in our system. I want to pause and sincerely thank that CBC officer, on behalf of the people of the Cayman Islands, for being on the front line doing an excellent job and protecting us all. The Minister for Tourism will speak to the Cayman Airways incident a bit later.

Both incidents have provided us with an opportunity to carefully review the performance of our COVID-19 response operations. We have already started to implement updated policies and procedures to strengthen our systems. We continue to interface with Public Health and other relevant authorities to ensure that our plans mitigate the increased risk of COVID-19 within the community.

Nevertheless, these incidents show us that we could be exposed to the virus at any time. So, we must continue to take precautions by practising good public safety hygiene by wearing masks especially when indoors, washing our hands regularly, avoiding large groups as much as possible, and underpinning all these measures, getting vaccinated.

While I continue to be proud of the incredible work and sacrifices of our public service workers who have been on the frontline of this pandemic since the beginning, it is unfortunate that so many of them - including our very own uniformed services - have not received the vaccine. Many of these men and women are, on a daily basis, face the very real risk of coming into direct contact with COVID-19 just by performing their duties.

At the end of their shifts, they return home to the family and friends who are then potentially exposed to COVID-19. As Minister Julie said yesterday, is there not a cause? Please encourage your family and friends who serve in the uniformed services to take extra caution to protect themselves as they serve every day in protecting others.

And so today, I am encouraged by and want to recognise how quickly our people took personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing by increasing their safety hygiene practices over the past two days. We've seen more people protecting themselves by wearing masks and practicing physical distancing in public places. In addition to this, I want to thank and applaud all persons who stepped forward and got their first COVID-19 vaccine dose over the past two days. The community has turned out in strong numbers to take up the vaccine, which offers the greatest protection for our health against COVID-19. I congratulate and sincerely thank you all for taking that step in protecting yourselves, your loved ones, and our children.

The tough lessons and experiences we have all endured this week serve to focus our attention on making sure that we take advantage of the opportunities to take this global pandemic seriously, practise public safety measures at all times and get vaccinated.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper's Remarks

At today's press conference, Dr Lee reported the reassuring news that just one additional positive case and many negative results came from the contact tracing. This is welcome news. We are fortunate that many of the people involved have been vaccinated. My thanks to Public Health who have been doing an incredible job dealing with this situation. Yesterday was a very important test run for something that I believe we are going to have to get used to happening more often in the future.

I fully support everything the Premier said on precautions, particularly given the element of uncertainty we currently have. Washing hands, maintaining a social distance and considering wearing a mask. It is very important that everyone follows that.

It is extremely encouraging to see the vaccination rates going up. Good news from London regarding the provision of boosters for the Islands. Discussions are already underway regarding how many booster shots we will need to bring in from the UK. As our situation here in Cayman is different, London have accepted that the boosters we do here will be in line with our own needs, not following identically the UK programme. We will be able to start the booster programme very soon and will advise on schedules when we get clearer information on current supplies/delivery dates.

Many people are asking questions about the five-day quarantine and what will happen from 14 October. This is a difficult decision for the Premier and his Ministers, but a big focus of the Deputy Governor and I is to ensure that the necessary policy and medical advice is available to enable effective decisions to be taken. That advice to the Premier and his Ministers comes from the Civil Service and Dr Lee, but I am also pleased that on Monday two leading medical experts from Public Health England will be holding a Zoom meeting with all members of the Government. These two experts have been dealing with Overseas Territories who have had difficult Covid outbreaks. I hope that extra expert advice will be helpful and will support that decision-making process.

The situation is fully under control. We should all remain calm. There is absolutely no need for any panic buying, such has gone on over the last 24 hours. We are in as good a position as any country in the world when dealing with Covid, particularly given our very high vaccine rates. As Premier said, the best way we can protect ourselves is for more people to come forward and get the vaccine.

(GIS)

Updated: September 11, 2021
Category: Government, Politics & Public Administration