Premier Hon. Wayne Panton advised today that the Government will be “pausing Phase Three” of the Cayman Islands’ border reopening plan “for the rest of this year”.
The Premier was speaking at a COVID-19 update press conference called to announce the Government’s response to a rash of new positives over the past few days that have been confirmed to be the result of community transmission.
Premier Panton also announced the increase of the quarantine period for vaccinated incoming travellers from five days to seven days, and said the entry of unvaccinated individuals will be limited.
Geo-tagging will be reimplemented for all those in quarantine. This requirement was previously removed on 9 August for verifiably vaccinated travellers on a five-day quarantine period, but will be reinstated for all quarantine periods.
He also confirmed the reintroduction of COVID-19 suppression measures, including mask wearing mandates and safe distancing in public places. Additionally, the number of people allowed to gather indoors is likely to be reduced to 100 and those gathering outdoors to 250.
New regulations will be introduced shortly clarifying all of the changes and details will be provided at that time. However, Premier Panton emphasised that a lockdown is not envisaged at this time.
Further security measures will be put in place specifically for those travelling to the Sister Islands in order to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which have a proportionately large vulnerable population.
Premier Panton reiterated that all measures are vitally needed to put a ring of protection among the vulnerable and especially children below 12 who have currently no vaccinations available.
H.E. Governor Martyn Roper announced that the Cayman Islands has ordered booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, which are now approved for those over 50 by the UK and these are expected to arrive in short order.
The need for all eligible residents to get vaccinated was once again emphasised by all members of the panel.
As of 5p.m. today, a total of seven community transmission cases had been confirmed, with the leaders underscoring that community transfer within Cayman Islands was inevitable.
Providing a recap on three community cases that came to light last week, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee said: the one in-patient is doing well and is in “very stable” condition. The other two are also stable and isolating at home.
One additional individual has tested positive who is associated with this community transfer group and is quarantining at a government approved facility, which brings that total to four community transfers in last week’s incidence.
There have been 35 direct contacts and 48 including the households tested. An additional 40 individuals have been screened.
Regarding this week’s positive in a George Town Primary School (GTPS) student who presented to the HSA Flu Clinic, two further students have been identified as positive for COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic.
Following further contact tracing, one more individual has tested positive who may be connected to the GTPS infection. Of the 45 students in Year 6 of GTPS, 28 were tested and three have resulted in positives.
The Public Health team swabbed over 600 people at GTPS today and those results will come in gradually overnight so that a fuller picture emerges, Dr. Lee added.
Across Grand Cayman, there are seven households that have tested positive for COVID-19 and all are in different geographical locations, with no known common exposure among them.
The Cayman Islands’ community transfer is now at the World Health Organisation (WHO) lowest level of transmission at Level One, Dr. Lee said.
Dr. Lee explained that Public Health will follow WHO guidance on contact tracing whereby only primary contacts of someone who is positive will be asked to isolate themselves.
A direct contact includes someone living in the same household or someone having immediate physical contact such as a hug or a kiss, and being less than two metres or six feet from infected person for more than 15 minutes.
Dr. Lee related that when in the UK recently, he spent time with family and friends going about daily life and realised by their collective experiences that it is possible to lead a full life in a community with COVID-19 transmission as long as safety protocols are followed.
In attendance at the press conference at the Government Administration Building were Governor Roper, Premier Panton; Minister for Health Hon. Sabrina Turner, and Minister for Education Hon. Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as well as Dr. Lee.
Pastor Winston Rose of Bodden Town Church of God led the prayer at the start.
The full broadcast of the press conference is posted on the CI Government YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/WeGlBsXMr8E .