(CMR) The country learned today that Cayman now has a total of 22 COVID-19 infected persons; an increase of eight since yesterday. The government's plan at this stage is to keep the course as they indicated these numbers were in line with their expectations. Premier, Honourable Alden McLaughlin shared that he is hopeful to contain the virus and break the continued transmission of it but now we are clearly in a very dangerous position.
Dr. Lee provided the results of 22 additional tests with 14 being negative. He indicated that seven of the eight had some travel history/connection to someone with a travel history and one appears to be locally transmitted with no travel history. He stressed that the cases stretch from East to West and would discourage anyone from assuming they are safe based on location on the island.
The members of the media joined remotely today via Zoom to keep everyone at a safe distance. This is the first time that the media has been excluded since the press briefings began some weeks ago. As a result, the Compass was unable to live stream.
The Premier's report stressed the importance of continuing the existing course and that now even more than ever practicing social distancing is key. He did express that he was disappointed in the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce who issued a less than favorable statement about is approach – questioning why his government unable to focus on both economic stimulation and the controlling of community transmission of the virus.
“I have to express my deep disappointment that many in the business community still do not get it. The thousands of requests for exemptions that continue to pour in just leave every one of us who are looking at these things in the room leaves us shaking our head. Every business is NOT essential. Pool maintenance business are not except – it is not an essential service.”
He stressed that AC or maintenance companies should only be attending to true emergency situations and not routine maintenance. He shared that in about two to three weeks if they can say that this virus is under control then the government can consider looking at the business community and local businesses.
“We do not want to send the message that it is business as usual and we can send people back to work. We want people to stay at home.” However, he did share that they are looking at the practicality of allowing persons to have access to their pension funds, a possible pension holiday and business loans via the government-owned CIDB.
He stated that the primary focus of the government is the suppression of the virus and referring to “explicit criticism from the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce” that other countries have focused on both of these things simultaneously. He said:
“I want them to pay attention to the grim reaper reports that I now read every day and ask themselves if they think the focus has been right and if they still think that deaths are alright as long as you ensure the economy continues to operate. Folks, we can either decided to focus on funerals or trying to keep as many people alive as possible.”
He put to bed a rumor that the government is NOT contemplating a full lockdown again, but they are considering an extension of the alphabetical division of the country because there are far too many people out and about.
Easter camping is canceled and no one should make any plans to engage in any traditional beach camping activities.
The governor shared that the number of deaths overnight in the UK was clearly sobering and the news that a 13 and 17-year boy with no underlying health issues is concerning. The air bridge which is funded by the UK government will be bringing UK funded personal protection equipment, HSA ordered equipment and even supermarket freight
Thus far 109 people have contacted them about wishing to depart on that flight and others can call 244-333. The cost of the ticket is 500 pounds. If anyone else wishes to leave the island they can also call that number to be placed on a list to see if arrangements can be made for other locations.