In the Cayman Islands we have begun wider screening for COVID-19. Here's what that means:
What Testing Do We Use In The Cayman Islands?
The Cayman Islands tests for evidence of the virus by looking for its genetic material. This is called genomic (molecular) testing and uses a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine. You can read more about testing here.
New ways of testing are now approved in the Cayman Islands' national protocols for screening of COVID-19. These include antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic or lateral flow tests (LFTs). PCR testing is still the gold-standard for clinical diagnostic detection but LFTs can successfully assist in quickly identifying positive cases, which means we can lower the impact of isolation of close contacts.
Who Are We Testing?
LFTs are not recommended for children under the age of 2 years old.
Anyone who experiences COVID-19 symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and fever should isolate and consider taking a PCR test. LFTs are not recommended for individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
We recommend the use of approved LFTs for a wide range of purposes and contexts, including the following:
- For testing at home, as part of a personal routine to safeguard the health and safety of individuals and their families.
- Under the direction of Public Health for diagnostic purposes, as part of an outbreak investigation and response, in order to:
- provide a more rapid response for identifying persons actively infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus to help guide clinical and infection control decisions; and
- reduce the number of children and families required to isolate as a result of a positive case.
Why Are We Screening Healthy Individuals?
Screening healthy individuals for the COVID-19 virus helps us better understand the rate of spread of COVID-19 in our communities as we know that some people who have the virus are asymptomatic (not showing any symptoms). Therefore, if we can identify cases and do the necessary contact tracing (get in touch with everyone in contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus) we can limit the spread.
The Advantages of Screening
The following are some of the reasons for screening our population:
- Understand Infection Rate: To determine how widespread the COVID-19 virus is in the Cayman Islands we need to test healthy individuals as well as those that we think might be sick. Screening allows us to do this by testing a cross-section of the population.
- Stop The Spread: We know that countries that have large-scale testing processes tend to see more positive outcomes. This is because they can test, identify, trace and isolate people who may be asymptomatic and are a risk to others without knowing. This allows the identification of people who can spread COVID-19 and stops the virus from being passed on.
- Protect The Vulnerable: Individuals who do not experience symptoms when they have the COVID-19 virus are not likely to get tested otherwise. By identifying COVID-19 positive people during screening we protect the more vulnerable people in our community.
- Inform Policy: Screening for COVID-19 also allows for the Government to make better informed policy decisions that keep everyone safe and can guide the phased reopening of our Islands.
What Happens If Screening Comes Back Positive?
If a person who undergoes screening tests positive for the COVID-19 virus they are immediately contacted by the Public Health Department and are isolated. They are required, by law, to isolate with their entire household until they are declared 'recovered'.
A person is considered recovered if, after 14 days or when they no longer have symptoms (whichever is longer), they have two negative test results 24 hours apart.
The Public Health Department will also trace all contacts of the positive case as people who have had close contact with someone with the COVID-19 virus may be at risk of acquiring the disease. Contact tracing consists of an interview with the person who is positive to identify anyone who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious. Public Health staff will then track these contacts and find these people as soon as possible. These contacts will be required to isolate, get tested, and asked to monitor their health for symptoms. If they become unwell, then the Public Health Department can take the necessary precautionary measures more quickly.
It takes a collaborative effort to protect the community from COVID-19. Therefore, if you have been asked to be tested during the screening process, we encourage you to do so. Not only does it help Public Health efforts to control COVID-19 in our islands but it also prevents the hospitals in becoming overwhelmed; this ensures we have a bed for you if you need it.
If Your LFT is Positive:
Report your positive test here:
If the other members of your household are vaccinated, each person, including children, should conduct daily Lateral FlowTesting for ten days. Daily testing must continue until all positive cases in the household are cleared by PH.
If an individual receives a negative LFT result, that individual can attend school/work if daily test results continue to be negative.
If an individual receives a positive LFT result, that individual must:
- stay at home and
- contact Public Health immediately.
If an individual is unable to test, they are required to isolate for 10 days.
More questions? Visit our FAQs page.