Talking to the Caymanian Times Publisher, Ralph Lewis, Cayman’s Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee gave some sage advice that people could follow during this current outbreak of Covid-19, which appears to be sweeping all three islands with rapid speed.
Dr Lee said he believed the current outbreak would continue to climb for a while but said he remained “relatively reassured” that the numbers of people in hospital were not high and were not needing that much support in terms of breathing.
“But the vaccination clinics are still open and, I have to say to people time and time again, you know we’ve seen in other countries, in all of the Overseas Territories and our partner countries, that patients who end up in intensive care and the people who unfortunately die are those who are not vaccinated, so please do come forward and get your vaccination if you can and your booster dose if you are over 50,” he stated.
Dr Lee said the Government had been working incredibly hard to prepare for this outbreak and things had “ramped up a good deal since September 8th”. They had been meeting every day to undertake a mini operations committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, he advised.
“It is a concern when you have an infectious disease running throughout the community, but it is good that we had high vaccination rates particularly with the most vulnerable,” he confirmed, adding that by far the most vulnerable are by age.
“Age 40 and above is where the serious illness and deaths start to climb and our vaccination rates in those groups are exceedingly high, yet we know that vaccines are not 100% effective, so the higher the vaccination rate the better. Having your booster is a good thing and that will serve to protect us,” Dr Lee said.
The Delta variant was so infectious and Cayman was now unable to stop it as it was out in the community. Cayman was also at a disadvantage because the country had so little community protection, unlike other countries.
Dr Lee said that Cayman might have these Covid infection cycles for two to three years to come and we would get more used to it
“I know it’s a frightening thought for us at the minute because we have had such a calm period before this storm, but we will cycle through it. We must continue to go on and enjoy our lives and do the things we like to do with people that we love,” he advised.
“But many will not need to seek advice because they will know the symptoms. It’s just another virus,” he said.
Lateral flow tests should be used whenever needed, for example when visiting an elderly relative or taking part in a large group activity, to ensure everyone was Covid-free. Institutions on island such as the prison, hospice, schools and also the private sector have or will soon be instilling policies where they will test twice a week while Cayman has high community spread. This would allow the country to continue to function, because if a child registered as positive via a lateral flow but the vaccinated parent registered negative, the parent would still be able to work, he advised, provided the parent agreed to daily lateral flows. In this way the workforce wouldn’t be “decimated” he said.
Dr Lee hoped that businesses would provide employees with lateral flows. Government was supplying it for civil servants. It made sense for business continuity if employers ensured that their entire workforce was not impacted by one positive result.
Positive lateral flow tests would need to be logged on a website which would send an automatic message advising Public Health. The positive person would then need to isolate for 10 days if vaccinated and 14 if not vaccinated.
When the borders open on 20 November, Dr Lee said arriving people would still need to take a PCR test within 72 hours of travel to keep the borders secure from variants, and they would still be tested, even though they did not need to quarantine.
“They will need to do a lateral flow on days 2, 6 and 10,” he confirmed.
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