(CMR) The Health Services Authority (HSA) has confirmed this morning that a patient at their facility with no apparent travel history has tested positive for COVID-19. The Chief Medical Officer confirmed that the person was asymptomatic and had only been tested because they were going overseas for treatment and the USA required a COVID-19 test for all patients.
HSA CEO, Lizette Yearwood, joined the panel for the first time and confirmed that the patient arrived at the facility after they stopped allowing visitors to the facility on March 14, 2020. This positive test has now meant that all staff that had contact with this patient at HSA have now been placed on quarantine. The home of the patient is also now being carefully assessed for possible contamination.
There are some 14 persons at HSA and another possible 8 persons who may have had contact with this patient that will be tested and possibly quarantined. This particular case more than others causes grave concern that there may now be local transmission of COVID-19.
Additional closures and HSA changes will be announced.
The government has now decided to implement an immediate change to the curfew which will begin at 7:00 pm to 6:00 am and ALL non-essential services will have to now be closed. They will be in discussions with the supermarkets on how to move forward to keep food supplies available to the people. They may be discussing what should be the most appropriate way forward with banks.
A list of essential services will be disclosed later on this afternoon at a second press briefing. However, the premier stressed the seriousness of the situation by stating:
“This is essentially a lockdown and this is the best chance the country has to suppress the transmission of the virus and we are taking the steps now.”
He did share that retails stores and construction companies would now need to shut down. They are moving to restrict gatherings to two persons unless they are members of one's immediate family.
CNS inquired with the CMO if he wanted to reconsider his approach to testing given his corrective statements about asymptomatic persons. The World Health Organization has clearly shared that countries like South Korea have done an exemplary job of handling COVID-19 because of their desire to test as many persons as possible. Cayman is only testing people following who meet a strict three requirement criteria from CAPHA. Both the Americans and UK have been criticized for their lack of responsiveness to COVID-19.
No further details were provided on this new patient which Dr. Lee refusing to indicate where they are located.
It was further shared that the two positives discussed yesterday from Health City include one employee of the facility and one was actually another patient on the ward.
Franz Manderson, Deputy Governor and head of the civil service will be shutting down most services including CBC and immigration. He urged most civil servants to stay at home and indicated that he would be sending out an email advising civil servants of what action they needed to take.
Whilst pleading with the business community to consider the needs of their employees carefully he shared the importance of all sectors working together:
“We are going to be in for really difficult economic times at least until the end of the year and maybe into next year.”