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.
Latest COVID-19 update for Cayman:
(March 27, 2020– Press Conference) Fifteen samples that were locally tested within the last 48 hours have come back negative. This brings the total number of samples tested in the Cayman Islands to 190 with 8 active positive results, 181 negative results and one death. On Saturday 28 March, 2020 at 5am, a Shelter in Place Provision (soft curfew) policy will be implemented. This means that all but essential businesses must be closed. Residents may only leave their homes if they are going to an essential business such as the supermarkets, gas stations or banks. Residents are reminded that the ‘hard’ curfew from 7pm-5am will still be in effect until Monday April 6, 2020.
Soft Curfew– From 5am-7pm, residents may only leave their homes if they are going to an essential business such as the supermarkets, gas stations or banks.
Hard Curfew– From 7pm-5am, no one is allowed to leave their house unless they are an essential worker. Essential workers only have permission to go to work and go back home.
(March 26, 2020– Press Conference) An additional forty-eight negative tests have been confirmed by the HSA laboratory.
(March 25, 2020– Press Conference) The Cayman Islands now has 8 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Five of the results were related to the Health City Cayman Islands, two were from persons with recent international travel history and one case is suspected of being a locally transmitted case. The results of 118 negative tests were also sent to CARPHA and have been confirmed to be negative.
From 7pm tonight the Cayman Islands will go into 24 hour curfew until 5am Saturday morning. This means that from March 25, 2020 at 7pm until March 28, 2020 at 5am the Cayman Islands will be on lockdown and you are not allowed to leave your house unless you are an essential worker or it is a medical emergency. Anyone who fails to comply with the curfew order is guilty of an offense and can be fined $3,000 or up to a years imprisonment.
(March 24, 2020– Press Conference) The preliminary test results for one more test has come back positive for COVID-19. This patient has no recent travel history and this case is suspected to be a locally transmitted case. These results are preliminary and will need to be checked by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to confirm. This brings the total number of samples tested to 104 with only one confirmed case and five positive preliminary results. The Government has also made changes to the curfew which will now be from 7pm-5am. This will initially be for 10 days and will then be monitored every 48 hours to assess the situation. As of Wednesday 25 March 2020 at 6am, all non-essential establishments will be closed.
(March 23, 2020– Press Conference) The preliminary test results for 2 more tests have came back positive for COVID-19. This means that Cayman has one confirmed case and four positive preliminary results. As of March 24, 2020, the Cayman Islands will be placed under a curfew from 9pm-5am. Residents and visitors must stay in their homes or they may be subject to arrest and will be fined $3,000 or one year imprisonment. Public gatherings have also been reduced from 50 persons to 10 persons. All businesses/stores will close at 8pm.
(March 19, 2020– Press Conference) The preliminary test results for 23 tests have came back negative for COVID-19. So far there have been 88 total number of samples tested with only one confirmed case and two positive preliminary results. The Chief Medical Officer for health wants to remind the public that anyone who fails to comply with the self-isolation order is guilty of an offense and can be fined $1,000 or six months imprisonment.
(March 19, 2020– Press Conference) The preliminary test results for 2 tests have came back positive for COVID-19. The remainder of the test results came back negative. These results include 28 samples from Health City Cayman Islands and 29 samples from the Health Services Authority. These results are preliminary and will need to be checked by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to confirm. There are currently 7 outstanding tests.
The Government is also reminding students and returning residents to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. An isolation facility has been provided to allow returning students or essential workers to isolate without impacting their families. Call 1-800-534-6555 or email: [email protected] for more information.
(March 17, 2020– Press Conference) The preliminary results of 20 tests have came back negative, however these samples will need to be checked by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). There are still some tests outstanding and the Cayman Islands Government is awaiting results. As of 22 March, 2020, gyms, salons, spas and bars will be closed and restaurants will only be allowed to offer pickup and delivery services for 2 weeks.
(March 16, 2020– Press Conference) The Owen Roberts International Airports and the Captain Charles Kirkconnell International Airport will be closed for international travel from March 22, 2020 at 11.59pm to April 22, 2020 at 11.59pm. All inbound flights, except from the UK, from March 19 will operate for returning residents only. Outbound flights will operate as usual through to March 22, 2020. Flights emanating from the UK through to 22 March, 2020 will operate as normal. All arriving passengers will need to isolate themselves for 14 days. Both airports will remain open for emergency flights.
Banks are now offering loans and mortgagse for those who need financial assistance. Call your loan officer to see if you qualify. Water Authority and CUC will also postpone disconnections for the next 60-90 days for those in need. Some insurance providers will also cover all treatment required for COVID-19.
A total of 44 tests have been sent off to be tested for COVID-19. These include 30 from Health City Cayman Islands and 14 from other sources.
(March 15, 2020) On-Island testing can now be done at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA). Local testing will reduce the wait time for results from 5-10 days to 24-48 hours. Testing will only be done on persons who have flu symptoms and have recently travelled to a country that has reported cases of local transmission and on persons with any acute respiratory illness and those who have been in contact of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. If you are experiencing any symptoms, call the flu hotline first.
(March 14, 2020) The first confirmed patient in the Cayman Islands of COVID-19 has passed away. The patient was a 68 year old Italian man who had been transported by ambulance to Health City Cayman Islands from a cruise ship for cardiac treatment. There are currently no other confirmed cases.
Many businesses have adjusted their store hours to conduct additional sanitation measures and restock products. In order to reduce any potential transmission of COVID-19, the Cayman Islands Hospital HSA is restricting all visitors and cancelling all non-emergency services, elective surgeries and specialist services.
(March 13, 2020– Press Conference) Effective March 16, 2020, all educational institutions will be closed from March 16-April 27, all cruise ships will be denied entry to the Cayman Islands for 60 days and all public gatherings over 50 persons will be postponed until further notice. The government has also expanded the travel restrictions to control entry of persons from high-risk areas. See below in the ‘Travel Restrictions’ section for a list of countries.
(March 13, 2020) Some staff members at the Health City Cayman Islands have fallen sick with what is presumed to be COVID-19. Clinical Director of Health City Cayman Islands, Dr. Chattuparambil, has confirmed that the wife of the patient and any Health City staff members that came into contact with the patient have been quarantined. Samples are being taken and tested for COVID-19. Some major events, such as Inter-primary and the LIVE Street Food Festival, have been postponed due to the current COVID-19 situation.
(March 12, 2020– Press Conference) The first case of coronavirus in the Cayman Islands has been confirmed during a press conference today at 4.45pm. Four of the results that were sent off on March 9th were negative, however one test came back positive. The infected person was transported by ambulance to Health City Cayman Islands from a cruise ship on Saturday, February 29th, 2020 for cardiac treatment. The Cayman Islands Government has taken the necessary precautions by keep this patient isolated to reduce the risk of the virus spreading throughout the Islands.
(March 12, 2020) The Cayman Islands Government is urging the public not to panic buy. Photos have been circulating on social media showing empty store shelves since people have begun stock piling to be prepared for worse case scenarios. This panic buying has caused some supermarkets, such as Kirk Market and Foster’s to place product limits on some goods to ensure that there is enough supply to manage the increase in demand. HMCI and Supermarkets in Cayman have confirmed that there will be no supply shortages and freight ships carrying food supplies and household products will continue to arrive on island as normal.
When shopping please be mindful and considerate of others. A household of two does not neccessarily need 10 cans of lysol disinfectant spray, 5 packs of toilet paper, and 20 bottles of hand sanitiser.
(March 9th, 2020) Six samples from Cayman were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to be tested for the coronavirus. These patients were feeling unwell and have recently travelled to countries who are experiencing an outbreak. Although it is unknown at the time if they have the virus, four patients remain isolated at home, while one is an inpatient at Health City Cayman Islands and they are all being actively monitored by public health officials. The results are to be expected within six days.
On-Island testing for COVID-19 should be available within the next two weeks through the Health Services Authority.
If you are feeling unwell, have any concerns or are exhibiting mild symptoms, call the flu hotline first before going to the A&E. This reduces the impact to the public and reduces the risk of spreading the virus.
Flow Flu Hotline Number: 1-800-534-8600
Digicel Flu Hotline Number: 1 (345) 947 3077
Mental Health Hotline: 1-800-534-6463
Although unconfirmed, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan (China) with the first case being reported in December 2019. 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 South Korea, Italy, Iran, 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, but some cases have been reported which worryingly don’t appear to have a direct connection with China.
The WHO has declared this Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic since it has been detected in every region in the world.
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.
Impact on Cayman
There are currently 8 confirmed cases and one death of COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands and the public health authorities are closely monitoring these patients in isolation. The overall situation is also being actively monitored and surveillance has already been enhanced at all borders. The Cayman Islands has launched the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) to bring together stakeholders to consider likely impacts if a case of COVID-19 was confirmed on island and assess how they can limit the effects on the economy, health and well being of residents. A flu hotline and clinic has also been launched to assist people if they have concerns or are exhibiting symptoms.
The flu clinic in Grand Cayman will be operating out of the previous Mental Health Outpatient Unit from 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday. On Cayman Brac, the Flu Clinic will be located at the Medical Wing of the Aston Rutty Centre from 8am-4pm, Monday-Friday.
On-Island testing can now be done at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA). Local testing will reduce the wait time for results from 5-10 days to 24-48 hours. Testing will only be done on persons who have flu symptoms and have recently travelled to a country that has reported cases of local transmission and on persons with any acute respiratory illness and those who have been in contact of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
Health officials are reminding arriving passengers to seek medical attention and to share their travel history with their healthcare provider if they have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness. 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.
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.
The Department of Public Health has been communicating with Cayman Airways about establishing a plan for the transfer and management of patients who might require hospital care.
The Department of Public Health currently has three scenarios planned if patients have contracted the virus in the Cayman Islands. These include:
- If a patient has mild symptoms they will be isolated at their residence. If they require isolation from family, an undisclosed location will be discussed
- If a patient has moderate symptoms they will be isolated in special rooms at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and private institutions
- If a patient has severe symptoms they will be isolated in rooms in the ICU at the George Town Hospital and private institutions.
On Monday March 9th, 2020, one critically ill passenger was airlifted from a Caribbean Princess cruise ship from Cayman to Florida and one was transported by ambulance to Health City Cayman Islands. The ship anchored in Grand Cayman, however they opted not to disembark passengers. Before this, The MSC Meraviglia was denied entry and some cruise ships changed routes to avoid Cayman.
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.
- Sore Throat
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
Symptoms occur 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you may just have a common cold.
How to Stay Safe
The virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. In response, James Robb MD UC, an American pathologist and the WHO have issued recommendations and precautions to prevent the spread of this disease. These include:
- Avoid touching your face, mouth and nose! – the most common way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands
- Frequent hand-washing with antibacterial soap and water for 10-20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser greater than 60%. The virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 minutes
- When coughing/sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw away tissue and wash hands
- Avoid handshaking – Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – you can also get infected if an infected person coughs or sneezes onto or into your nose or mouth.
- Try not to grasp door handles with your hand – use your closed fist or hip
- If you have fever/cough/difficulty breathing seek medical care early and disclose travel history
- Use your knuckles to touch light switches, elevator buttons, doorbells, etc.
- Use disinfectant wipes to disinfect areas that your hands will come in contact with such as the handle and child seat in grocery carts, hand rails on public transport and stairs, etc
- If you do not have hand sanitiser or disinfectant wipes available, use disposable gloves
- 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
- Drink plenty of room temperature water – avoid ice cold water. You can also gargle salt in warm water as a prevention.
NOTE: If the droplets fall on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours – so if you come into contact with any metal surface – wash your hands as soon as you can with a antibacterial soap. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours, so avoid sneezing in your elbow, if possible. The virus can also be spread on cell phone screens, handles and handsets and will be potent for up to seven days. Gyms are also high risk locations for coronavirus to spread.
Advice for Home Isolation
If you are experiencing any symptoms or have been advised to isolate your self at home, here are some tips:
- Stay home– Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use buses or taxis until you have been told by the Public Health Department that is safe to do so. You will need to ask for help if you require groceries, other shopping or medications.
- Separate yourself from others in the home- You should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom and towels from the rest of the household, if available. If you have to share these facilities, regular cleaning will be required. Consider creating a bathroom rota for washing and bathing with the isolated person going last. The isolated person should then thoroughly clean the bathroom to avoid the spread of the virus. If you live in shared accommodation with a communal kitchen, bathroom and living area, you should stay in your room with the door closed, only coming out when necessary, wearing a face mask. Avoid using the area while others are present.
- Call your doctor of flu hotline before visiting- if your symptoms are getting progressively worse and you need to see a doctor, you should discuss what you are experiencing in advance over the phone. This will ensure that your healthcare provider can take steps to minimise contact with others. If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, inform the call handler or operator that you are being tested for COVID-19.
- Wear a face mask- If you have to e in the same room with other people, you should wear a face mask at all times. if you cannot wear a face mask, avoid close contact of at least 3-6ft.
- Practice good hygiene- Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze and dispose of it into a plastic waste bag. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water after you cough, sneeze or touch any surface.
- Do not have visitors in your home- If it is not essential for someone to visit, talk over the phone. This will minimise the chances of the virus spreading.
- Avoid sharing household items– You should have designated dishes, drinking glasses, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items to avoid sharing them with other people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water. Laundry, bedding and towels should be placed in a plastic bag.
- Handling waste- All waste that has been in contact with the individual should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. Do not dispose of it or put it out for collection until you know that patient does not have COVID-19.
The Cayman Islands Government is advising residents to avoid all but essential travel to countries that have reported cases of the virus. Returning residents who have visited countries affected, especially mainland China, within the previous 14 days will be subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival to the Cayman Islands and visitors will be denied entry. If someone has been in an area that is deemed as ‘high risk’, the government will decide on the appropriate quarantine conditions.
Effective Monday 16 March, 2020, visitors from the following countries will be denied entry for 60 days. These countries include:
- Republic of Korea
- All countries in the Schengen area
The Cayman Islands Government has released a list of regulations that will be followed to control COVID-19.
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.
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.
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.
If you have booked an airline ticket to a country that has been affected by coronavirus, check with the airline in regards to their policy for change fees as some airlines are waiving change fees for March travel. These airlines include Cayman Airways, Caribbean Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and Delta Airlines. Certain terms and conditions will apply.
The United States has suspended all travel from Europe and the UK for the next 30 days.
Countries Affected by the Virus
At the time of publication (27/03/20, 8 am) there are 176 countries/regions affected by the COVID-19 virus and a total of 551,337 confirmed cases, 24,906 deaths and 127,564 recovered cases. There are roughly 500-2,000 cases confirmed daily.