Flatten The Curve: Public Gathering Bans & School Closures Slow The Spread

A number of proactive measures have been taken in the Cayman Islands to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). On Friday 13 March it was announced that effective immediately public gatherings of over 50 people at once (excluding hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets) are restricted in the Cayman Islands until further notice. Alongside this announcement comes the closure of all education facilities as of Monday 16 March until the 27 April.

While these measures may seem extreme, they are proactive precautions being taken by the Government to halt any potential spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the light of one confirmed case in the Cayman Islands.

Here's how closing schools, and taking measures such as banning larger public gatherings, are intended to slow the spread of virus and flatten the curve:

 

What Kind Of School Closures Are We Doing?

There are two types of school closures when we consider coronavirus:

  • Proactive these closures happen before schools have even one case of infection.
  • Reactive closing of schools happens in the event of infection within a school. 

In the Cayman Islands we are carrying out proactive school closures. We have no confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the schools as of 13 March.

 

What We Know About Closing Schools & Its Impact On The Virus

Proactive school closures can be one of the most powerful non-pharmaceutical interventions (methods of treating this without drugs). They don't just keep children safe, but the closures can protect the whole community.

When you close the schools, you reduce the mixing of the adults and children — parents dropping off at the school, the teachers being present too. It is the intention that this reduced mixing can slow the spread of a virus, and protect our most vulnerable population especially the elderly or those with chronic illnesses.

Despite appearing to be affected less by coronavirus, children can still carry the virus. By closing schools we can reduce the spread of the virus substantially.

In our case, some evidence suggests this can lower the impact of a potential epidemic by up to two thirds. It also ensures that our healthcare system can easily treat and manage any potential cases.

Flattening the Curve

 

Why Public Gathering Bans Work Against Coronavirus Too

Much like the proactive closing of schools, in an effort to show an abundance of caution, the Cayman Islands Government has implemented a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more in the Cayman Islands. Hospitals, supermarkets and pharmacies are exempt from this ban.

The intention is similar to closing schools. When less people meet and mix, the impact and spread of any potential epidemic (and virus) is lowered dramatically.

 

What Other Precautionary Measures Are Being Taken?

The Cayman Islands Government has also taken the following precautions as of 13 March:

  • For 60 days from Monday 16 March, all cruise ships are being denied entry to the Cayman Islands. 
  • In order to protect its patients, Health Services Authority is restricting all visitors except for parents accompanying children and those accompanying women in labour
  • For the next three weeks as of Sunday 22 March 11:59pm, Owen Roberts International Airport and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport are closed. Cargo flights, as well as courier flights, will continue as will emergency medical air; ambulance flights needed to take residents overseas for medical treatment.
  • From Sunday 22 March 11:59 pm the following places are closed:
    • All gyms and indoor leisure facilities
    • All bars
    • Spas, including mobile spas
    • Public swimming pools, private strata pools
    • Cinemas, theatres, and concert halls
    • Playgrounds
    • Tourist attractions
    • Museums and galleries
    • All categories of beauty salon,
    • All barbershops and tattoo parlours

For ongoing updates to these policies restrictions visit our policies page.

The Impact Of These Announcements

We understand these measures in the Cayman Islands will have a huge impact on our society.

We are recommending that businesses with parents consider their flexible work policies to allow for accommodations, and make sure children have adequate care while at home.  We are also recommending that businesses with other 50 members of staff (while not included in the ban) consider shift work or flexible working patterns to reduce numbers.

We do not expect or intend for this to be implemented forever, so we ask that for the duration of these restrictions we all work together to support our community.

While social distancing is encouraged, this does not mean you cannot support a local business by asking for delivery instead of takeaway. If you are self-isolating, the Public Health Department can support you with your needs.

We continue to consider the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) will have on the local economy and will update the public with further announcements and support as we make these available.

 

What Else Can I do?

  1. Frequently wash your hands. Soap and water are effective against coronavirus. If you do not have soap or water, an alcohol-based hand gel can help keep your hands clean. Make sure you clean your hands regularly when entering new spaces and touching new things,  even when just going home. When washing your hands, do so for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Practice social distancing: Keeping the kids at home is hard, and will present some challenges to many families. It might seem tempting to use this as a chance to catch up with friends or arrange play dates. If you can, it is best to avoid this. Social distancing is hard, but incredibly effective at slowing the spread of viruses. While it seems like children may not be as affected by coronavirus as adults, they do have the ability to carry the virus from one household to another. In general, try to stand 3-6 feet away from colleagues and other people. Do not shake hands or hug people -- instead try waving or nodding to avoid touching.
  3. If you think you might have coronavirus. Call the 'flu hotline on 1 800 534 8600 or 947 3077 or email flu@hsa.ky. Do not go to the hospital or doctor you may infect others and we need to protect the community. Do not use public transport or taxis. Do not go to the supermarket or to public spaces. Instead, Public Health will advise you to return to your home and self-isolate. This means staying in the comfort of your own home for 14 days and not interacting with people. If you live with people, they will need to isolate with you. If you need food and do not have any friends, family who do not live with you or Public Health can bring you supplies.

 

I have more questions

Visit our frequently asked questions page for more answers or email NEOC@gov.ky

Flatten The Curve: How & When To Self-Isolate

There are several reasons you may be required to self-isolate to slow the transmission of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  Here's how and when to self-isolate when it comes to coronavirus in the Cayman Islands as of 17 March:

 

What Is Self-Isolation?

Self-isolation is when you isolate yourself in the comfort of your own home or the place you are staying. If you are self-isolating, you need to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days. It is important to follow the advice for the whole period, even if you do not have any symptoms.

 

Why Should I Self-Isolate?

Staying at home if you suspect you have coronavirus (COVID-19) helps to protect your friends, colleagues and the wider community (especially vulnerable people). It will also help to control the spread of the virus.

We realise that staying at home may be difficult or frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier. These include:

  • plan ahead and think about what you will need to be able to stay at home for the full 14 days
  • talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need
  • think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
  • ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online, if possible. Make sure any deliveries are left outside your home for you to collect
  • make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
  • think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • when you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses to help you take light exercise in your home

 

When Should I Self-Isolate?

As of 19 March 2020 you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • you are an arriving passenger from overseas
  • you are in a household of an arriving passenger from overseas (even if you did not travel)
  • you are experiencing symptoms that include:
    • coughing
    • shortness of breath
    • fever
  • you have been advised to do so by the Public Health Department

Please note: you do not need to call the flu hotline to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 14 days, contact the flu hotline at 1-800-534-8600 or 947-3077 or contact your regular GP.

For a medical emergency dial 911 and inform the operator that you may have coronavirus (COVID19) or are being tested for coronavirus. Alternatively, call the NEOC call centre at 945-6555 for non-medical queries.

 

 How Do I Self-Isolate?

Here's the recommended process for self-isolating in order to prevent the transmission of coronavirus if you are in the Cayman Islands.
 
How to self isolate (2)

1. Stay at home

You should remain in your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis. You cannot go for a walk.

 

 

 

 

 

How to self isolate (3)2. Separate Yourself

Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

Aim to keep 6 feet away from people you live with and sleep in a different bed where possible. If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from other people in your house, both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes. Ask your family or the people you live with to remember to use their own towels.

 

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3. Separate Facilities

If you do share the toilet and bathroom with others, it is important that you clean them after you have used them every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bath, sink and toilet yourself.

If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate tea towel.

We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face and clean frequently touched surfaces.

3. a. If you live alone with children

Keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.

What we have seen so far is that children with coronavirus (COVID-19) appear to be less severely affected. It is nevertheless important to do your best to follow this guidance.

If a child develops symptoms, they need to stay at home for 14 days from the onset of their symptoms.

3. b. If you live with an older, vulnerable or pregnant person

If you provide care to an elderly, vulnerable or pregnant person, follow this advice to the best of your ability.

3. c. If you are breastfeeding while infected

There is currently no clinical evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk. Infection can be spread to the baby in the same way as to anyone in close contact with you. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact with your child, however, this will be an individual decision and can be discussed with the flu hotline at 1-800-534-8600 or 947-3077

If you wish to breastfeed, take precautions to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to the baby by:

  • washing your hands before touching the baby, breast pump or bottles
  • avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding at the breast
  • cleaning any breast pump as recommended by the manufacturer after each use
  • considering asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to the baby

If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else. You can find more information at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.

 

How & When to Self-isolate Blog (2)

4. Arrange Deliveries

You will need to ask friends or relatives if you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication. You can also order your shopping online as some supermarkets offer delivery services. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver should not come into your home.

 

 

 

 

How to self isolate (6)5. No Visitors

During your self-isolation, the household can have no visitors. There must be no movement inside or outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to self isolate (7)

6. Avoid pets

There is no evidence that pets can be infected with coronavirus. However, it is good practice to wash your hands after contact.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Can I Learn More?

Visit our frequently asked questions for more information.

 

Resources: Cayman Islands Coronavirus Advice

THE VIRUS

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Latest Information on Coronavirus

 

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that originated from Wuhan City, China in December 2019. Here is the latest information from the Cayman Islands on COVID-19. 

 

NEWS & UPDATES

► Public Gatherings of More Than 50 People Restricted. Read more.

► First Case of COVID-19 Confirmed. Read more.

►CIGOUK acknowledges UK Prime Minister’s Latest COVID-19 Announcement. Read more.

► First samples sent for Testing. Read more.
 
►  Cruise Line Cancels Call To The Cayman Islands. Read more.
 
► The Cayman Islands Prepares As Regional Cases Are Confirmed In The Caribbean. Read more.
 
► Travel Restrictions & Advice From The Cayman Islands Government. Read more.
 
► Health Precautions At The Border & Immigration Advice. Read More.
 
►  Ministers attend a Special Meeting to discuss ways of protecting the region from COVID-19. Read more.
 
► Cruise Ship Denied Landing. Read More.
 
► Advice for residents returning from the Dominican Republic. Read more.
 
► Cayman Islands Government places COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on Schedule of Notifiable Dieseases. Read more.

 

Read more from our press room.

 

TRAVEL ADVICE

Travel Restrictions & Advice From The Cayman Islands Government. Read more.

► Advice for residents returning from the Dominican Republic. Read more.

► Cayman Airways change fees waived for March travel. Read more.

 

USEFUL INFORMATION ON PREVENTION

Coronavirus spreads person to person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. People who are not yet sick but have contracted the virus seem to also spread this illness.

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person but similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. With this in mind, when it comes to prevention of spread there are several things you can do to help stop the virus spreading. These are:

  1. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. If you do not have this then use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Use tissues. Do not use your hands. If you have no tissues, use your elbow.
  3. Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  4. Avoid travel if you have a fever, cough, or flu-like symptoms.

Coronavirus Prevention Tips - 4 tips

 

The best way to protect you and others from the spread of this virus is to practice these three tips:

  • Catch it. Catch a cough  or sneeze in a tissue. If you have nothing to use, use your elbow and not your hands.
  • Bin it. Bin the tissues after use. Viruses can live for hours in tissues.
  • Kill it. By avoiding close contact with those suffering from acute respiratory illness, avoiding travel if you have flu-like symptoms (or a cough or a fever) we can help kill the virus.

4 Easy New Year Resolutions For A Safer, Cleaner, & Greener Cayman

The New Year can be a great time to start new habits. Big changes can often be hard to maintain in our daily lives but smaller, simpler changes can have long lasting effects. These tiny adjustments to our day-to-day activities can go on to have huge impact in our lives, especially when considering our community and environment.

Here are four simple resolutions you can stick to in the New Year to help make your Cayman safer, cleaner and greener in 2020:

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1. Keeping Your Food Safer

From farm to checkout to lunchbox, ensuring that your food is clean, cooked, and fresh can help to make sure your 2020 is as healthy as possible and free from things like food poisoning.

Small habits that can keep your food safer can include:

  • Checking Expiration Dates: In the Cayman Islands, we are blessed with a fresh supply of produce in our supermarkets and stores -- however, food can and does spoil from time to time. Taking a moment out of your day to check the expiration dates on your food at home can help ensure you are eating fresh and unspoiled food.
  • Separating Your Meat: In your home, placing raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags will help ensure that bacteria from them cannot jump over to your other food. We call this cross-contamination, and it can cause food poisoning so it's best to avoid.  With meats, you can also freeze them if you’re not planning to use them within a few days.
  • Washing Away The Dirt: Washing your hands thoroughly and certain foods (especially anything you're not going to cook before eating) can also help you to avoid food poisoning. What does it mean to wash your hands thoroughly? Experts say scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds with antibacterial soap is required.
  • Chilling Foods: Knowing which foodstuffs to place in the fridge versus the pantry can make all the difference. 
  • Learning More: Read more on food safety in the kitchen here.

2. Drinking The Water 

In Cayman, we are fortunate enough to have a supply of fresh water through our taps provided by our desalination plants. All-in-all we have four plants across Grand Cayman, and one in Cayman Brac, that provide fresh drinking water to our communities. When water arrives in your tap in Cayman, it has had 99.5 percent of all salt stripped from it meaning it is incredibly clean.

Drinking the tap water has many benefits, not in the least is the saving in cost from the consumer-side. In addition to this, for anyone with the resolution to drink more water in the New Year turning to the tap water is an easy and effective way to achieve this.

3. Getting Regular Tune-Ups

Especially in the sea air of the Cayman Islands, maintaining your vehicle's health can be essential. Scheduling regular tune-ups for your car, bike, or scooter can help to ensure that they are safer and cleaner to drive. In this way you can help keep our roads safer and cleaner while being friendly to your wallet.

Regularly assessing and tuning your vehicle can lead to lowered overall costs in maintenance and can also make for a cleaner car when it comes to emissions.

4. Reusing Your Containers

When it comes to being green in Cayman, it's as easy as reusing what you can in your daily life.

Many people opt for reusable beverage holders, such as water bottles, to make sure they're getting the longest life possible out of their bottles. Another option is to consider how you can re-purpose something before discarding it (for example reusing old spaghetti jars for plant pot nurseries).

Living Safer, Cleaner Greener in Cayman

Want to learn more about being safer, cleaner and greener in Cayman? Take a look at our Safer, Cleaner, Greener website and discover more resources.

Here's How A Strong Economy Benefits Everyone

Launched in November, the Cayman Island Government is running a communications initiative aimed at engaging the public on the value of strong public finances. Everyone benefits from a strong economy, and this communications initiative will explore the impact strong public finances have on Caymanians.

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The Minister for Public Finance and Economic Development, Hon. Roy McTaggart, said the communications effort aimed to raise awareness of the many government programmes and services available to the community, and to build knowledge around how government builds revenue, prioritises spending, and the Budget process.

“Every day, Caymanians of all ages are impacted by strong public finances. We want to showcase how our strong public finances support school buses, roads, libraries, health clinics, and major investments, which impact our daily lives.”

Showcasing strong fiscal management, the communications initiative will highlight Cayman’s achievements such as delivering substantial surpluses and continuing to pay down debt.

“Cayman’s economy continues to grow from strength to strength. This is reflected in the positive statistics that show employment is up, investments are being made in public services and major infrastructure improvements, and we have also been able to set aside funds to pay off a substantial portion of our debt,” the Minister said. “Through this communications initiative we want the people of Cayman to understand how a strong economy benefits everyone, including businesses and indeed future generations of Caymanians.”

Learn more about this initiative by visiting exploregov.ky/strongeconomy.