(CMR) The Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Autilia Newton threatened to resign her post last week after she was “attacked” by two politicians in a caucus meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. The treatment that the CMO received prompted her to speak with the governor and express her desire to tender her resignation.
Cayman Marl Road received reports several days afterward that Dr. Newton's made a complaint to the Governor including specific concerns about how the Minister of Tourism and Transport along with Parliamentary Secretary Dwayne Seymour was speaking to her. In the weekly meeting, tensions were high over the country's current COVID-19 position including the amendment of the regulations and the way forward.
CMR understands the government will be announcing some amendments shortly that continue to include a phased approach. However, some MPs are advocating a complete lifting of all restrictions for everyone including both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. However, the CMO shared that she is not in favor of this position.
This difference of opinion has led to some heated moments with the CMO in recent times.
Indications are that both MPs were pressing and questioning the professional integrity of Dr. Newton including asking her if she had some ulterior motive for continuing to recommend the continuation of the current vaccination and travel policy. She was told essentially, that she had an agenda. However, Dr. Newton shared that the slow method she was recommending was not personal but supported by epidemiological data; stressing that COVID has not disappeared.
This has been the position of the PACT government from the onset and they have publicly shared before that they would be guided by the medical evidence presented to them. However, CMR understands that some in the room were questioning the efficacy of vaccines and if COVID-19 was even a real concern.
It was shared that:
“They were stressing her in a rude manner to prove her case when the entire time she had relied upon the data to guide her recommendations. They questioned her professional integrity and this is very sad. It reflects poorly on them and the dignity and of their office and position.”
The Minister of Tourism admitted in a recent online interview that he was working with his colleagues to have the restrictions removed by the high season. He shared that he was in favor of removing mask mandates, travel certificates no longer being required, and “persons who are not vaccinated should not be penalized in any capacity by making it a requirement.”
He did admit that he accepted there would be a strong push for the PCR testing to remain in place. Ironically, this is something that the United States has just recently removed.
Some people have shared with CMR that they feel that there is some ulterior motive pushing for a complete lifting of all restrictions by some MPs including some upcoming business ventures that some are directly involved in. One observation was made about an upcoming concert event.
The fallout has meant that the doctor has indicated her desire to leave and the civil service is attempting to smooth over the situation until her replacement can be found. Speaking on condition of anonymity one high-ranking government official shared that Dr. Newton had worked with many people all over the world including war-torn countries and to be disrespected in her professional capacity while in the Cayman Islands was a poor reflection on us as a country.
They went on to note that her expertise has placed the Cayman Islands in a very good position to boast of extremely low numbers despite our overall COVID positives numbers surprising other Caribbean countries.
On the other end of this, some MPs speaking on anonymity shared that “she's free to go if she wishes to go.”