Coronavirus

As Coronavirus continues to spread around the world we provide you with a guide on how to protect yourselves and your family from Coronavirus in the Cayman Islands.

Although unconfirmed, Coronavirus is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan (China). It has since spread across China and beyond.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) it is expected that thousands of people in China and around the world will die from the virus, with estimates of tens of thousands of infected people both in and outside China including Australia, the US, Canada, Europe and Asia. In the initial stages almost all reported cases were from patients who had recently been to Wuhan or had been in close proximity with someone who had.

The WHO have declared this Coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

While there are no confirmed cases in the Cayman Islands, the public health authorities are closely monitoring the situation. Based on advice from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) they have strengthened surveillance efforts to spot patients with respiratory disease and ensured all healthcare professionals are up-to-date with guidance on infection and prevention control. The Department of Public Health have been communicating with Cayman Airways about establishing a plan for the transfer and management of patients who might require hospital care.

Cayman Islands Medical Officer for Health, Dr Samuel Williams Rodriguez, has advised that those returning from countries where there have been confirmed cases should look out for unexplained breathing difficulties, and if detected should contact a doctor and disclose their travel history.

At present, there is no vaccine available and treatment is supportive care based on the patient’s symptoms. When a disease is new, it can take up to a few years for a new vaccine to be developed.

For the latest information on coronavirus please refer to WHO.

How to Stay Safe

The disease is spread through cough and sneeze droplets. In response, the WHO have issued its ‘standard recommendations’ to prevent the spread of diseases. These include:

  • Frequent hand-washing using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing/sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw away tissue and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • If you have fever/cough/difficulty breathing seek medical care early and disclose travel history
  • If visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of coronavirus, avoid direct contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals
  • Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products

Travel Restrictions

Globally, the CDC recommends travellers avoid all non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. They also advise people travelling to China to practice health precautions such as avoiding contact with people who are sick and practicing good hand hygiene (see above).

Travellers who have visited mainland China within the previous 14 days will be subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival to the Cayman Islands. This does not include travellers who have been to Hong Kong or Macau.

Travellers arriving into the Caribbean from a coronavirus affected country can expect to undergo entrance screening. In the Cayman Islands, surveillance has already been enhanced at all borders. The cruise ships are conducting screening on all joining passengers and travellers coming from China are also being screened on arrival in the USA, Canada, the UK, and beyond. Cruise ships have begun denying boarding to anyone with a travel history from mainland China.

The Pan American Health Organisation has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions in the Caribbean/Latin America region. However, that advice could be changed so be sure to double-check before you travel.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The Virus

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that normally affects animals including camels, cats and bats. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they are transmitted between animals and humans. The virus itself is a new, or ‘novel’ coronavirus causing respiratory illness in people.

Although it is rare for animal coronaviruses to evolve and infect people, it has occurred before with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Person-to-person transmission occurs via respiratory droplets with close contacts, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.