***Update, Saturday, 11.45am***
One more George Town Primary School student has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total up to 18 students at the school, plus three adults.
According to a government update sent Saturday morning, the child “is one of the final people to be screened at George Town Primary School”.
***Update, Thursday, 4pm***
A total of 17 George Town Primary School students have tested positive for COVID-19, following the addition of nine more cases Thursday, according to Cayman Islands Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee.
“Yesterday I reported a total of 10 people related to the George Town Primary School outbreak, of which two were adults who had been related to somebody who had visited the school,” Dr. Lee said in an update Thursday.
“Today unfortunately I have to report a further nine children that are related and these children across yesterday’s reporting and today are in Years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6,” he said.
Watch Dr. Lee’s announcement here:
***Update, Wednesday, 7pm by Kayla Young***
Seven new cases reported at GT Primary; mask mandate up to Public Health
Nine community cases of Covid-19, including seven children from George Town Primary, were confirmed among Wednesday evening’s test results, presented by Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee. A total of 1,752 PCR tests were included in the update.
So far, the George Town Primary outbreak has been linked to 10 cases, including eight children and two adults. A case reported in the community on 8 Sept. was considered a distinct outbreak, Dr. Lee said.
The two outbreaks have involved 12 households so far and contact tracing continues.
All individuals considered ‘primary contacts’ of confirmed cases have been in direct communication with Public Health officials, Dr. Lee said.
The patient admitted to the hospital last week remains in stable condition and has been “slightly unwell” since arrival. No additional oxygen therapy has been needed, he said.
“As far as George Town Primary, all of the children are asymptomatic, apart from the initial child, who remains stable as well,” Dr. Lee said, adding later in the transmission that five children and two adults from the school cluster are presenting mild symptoms.
Five of the students are from Year 6, one from Year 5 and two from Year 4. None have been linked to recent travel.
“We have asked everybody who has been isolating as a result of the event remains so until such time that we have the last of the results come through today and at that time Public Health will say what should happen,” Dr. Lee said.
Those not considered ‘primary contacts’ were expected to be released from isolation later on Wednesday, Dr. Lee said.
Vaccination efforts continue with 104,304 shots given to date. So far, 50,370 or 71% of the population has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and 53,934 or 76% has received at least one dose.
The Ministry of Education released updated guidance to schools indicating that any directives on masks will be left up to Public Health authorities.
GT Primary to be closed Wednesday; Gov’t to mandate masks in all local schools
***Update, Tuesday, 10.30pm***
The government has now published Thursday night’s remarks made by Premier Wayne Panton, Governor Martyn Roper and Health Minister Sabrina Turner on its website.
Also, government is instructing all households with George Town Primary School students to remain in isolation until they are contacted by a public health or education official, regardless of whether they have received their COVID-19 test results or not.
***Update, Tuesday, 7.15pm***
George Town Primary School will remain closed Wednesday and possibly longer as three total students there have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Cayman Islands government is going to change regulations mandating, among other things, the wearing of masks in local schools, Premier Wayne Panton said during a government press briefing Tuesday evening.
He said, “We are imminently going to be making changes through regulations. Some of these changes include mandating masks in indoor areas, including churches, schools, supermarkets and bars.”
In addition to the Year 6 George Town Primary student who tested positive for COVID Monday, two more George Town Primary students tested positive today, said Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee.
In addition to the students, another adult has tested positive, and authorities are investigating a possible connection to the school.
Last week, three adults tested positive for COVID in an incident that is ‘separate’ from the George Town Primary cases. In relation to that incident, another adult tested positive today.
In total, there are 8 confirmed cases of community transmission of COVID in Cayman, spread across 7 households.
Education Minster Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said the government had issued updated guidance to all public and private schools. She said that guidance would be posted online on Tuesday night but would be subject to change as the situation evolves.
The online streaming of the briefing was interrupted by technical delays, and the question-and-answer portion initially was aired only on CIGTV’s cable channel. Later the entirety of the briefing was posted online.
Watch the briefing here:
Premier Wayne Panton said Cabinet is meeting this morning to consider enhanced public health measures, including mask mandates, increased COVID-19 testing, consideration of quarantine periods and revisiting rules around who can visit the Cayman Islands.
“Based on the information that we have at this time, we are not considering a lockdown,” Panton said during a broadcast speech Tuesday morning.
Late Monday night, health officials confirmed that a Year 6 student at George Town Primary School had tested positive for COVID, with no travel history or direct contact with a recent traveller.
Cabinet’s meeting is also in the context of last week’s three confirmed cases of community transmission of COVID and the planned 14 Oct. border reopening.
A government press briefing is scheduled for 5pm today, Tuesday, to announce Cabinet’s decisions.
Panton said the COVID case in George Town Primary was ‘separate’ from the three COVID cases last week. He also said household members of the George Town Primary student had not tested positive for the virus so far.
As announced in an earlier press release, Panton said George Town Primary will remain closed until it is cleared by Public Health authorities, and all students, teachers, staff, parents and guardians are tested for COVID.
Panton said where households have students both at George Town Primary and other schools, such as John Gray High School, only the George Town Primary students would be tested today.
Watch the Premier’s appearance here:
Read Panton’s full statement here, as distributed by the Office of the Premier:
Good Morning people of the Cayman Islands,
I am here to speak to you about recent developments overnight and to outline the Government’s position and course of actions to be taken today and over the next few days.
Late last night, Cabinet and Caucus received an urgent briefing from Public Health and Ministry of Education officials after confirming that one Year 6 student at George Town Primary School had tested positive for COVID-19. We were especially alarmed when we learned that the child had no travel history or direct contact with a traveller. Tracking and tracing was begun yesterday and so far other members of the child’s household have not tested positive.
Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, we decided to immediately close the school and activate its planned response measures as guided by the Ministry of Education. GTPS will remain closed until it receives clearance to reopen from Public Health.
Public Health has swiftly made arrangements for on-site testing starting this morning with Year 6 to facilitate a quick, orderly and safe process for testing all George Town Primary School teachers, staff and students. Students’ parents and guardians will be contacted this morning and informed of the time to arrive at GT Primary to receive their COVID-19 tests. Students, their parents or guardians should only go the school at their appointed time. This approach has been taken to ensure accessibility to this school community and because it allows Public Health staff to have a wider reach in the shortest amount of time.
We are asking for assistance in the following ways:
- Students and their parents or guardians should remain at home until they are contacted by the school administration and advised of a time their year group will be tested;
- Students and accompanying parents and guardians are asked to wear masks and take all precautions, exercising hand hygiene and physical distancing;
- School facilities and buses will be thoroughly sanitised prior to reopening; and
- Families will be supported by the school counsellor and other staff.
We understand that some households have students that go to both George Town Primary and John Gray High School. To be clear, we are only testing George Town Primary students and their parents or guardians today. We will let you know when arrangements are made for students in any other schools.
Our teams from across the public sector have worked into the early hours of the morning to ensure that the best plans were put in place making the well-being of our children our priority.
We have had no shortage of reminders over the past week that the global pandemic is far from over, even here in the Cayman Islands. No doubt complacency has slowly crept in among us, and as we changed our behaviors, including our compliance with the regulations, there should be no surprise that we have seen the tide quickly shift.
Positive COVID-19 cases emerging from within the community is a worrying trend.
It is in moments like these that we should all be truly thankful that the Cayman Islands enjoys such a high rate of vaccination, but we must not again let complacency creep in.
The science is clear and unequivocal; vaccines help to prevent people from dying and getting seriously ill. Please be reminded of today’s Vaccination Clinic for Tuesday, 14 September, at Camana Bay 10am-2pm and 4pm-7:30pm. Get vaccinated to protect yourself and those you love.
We know that public health safety measures and responsible behaviors add a wall of protection around our most vulnerable – including those who cannot protect themselves. There is no doubt, the wall of protection is needed and needed now.
As previously mentioned during our September 8th press briefing, the Government is reviewing a number of measures in regards to the October 14th further reopening of the borders and the implementation of increased public health measures.
This morning the Cabinet will meet to finalise additional public health measures in light of the development of two separate incidents of community transmission, including mask mandates, increased surveillance testing, consideration of quarantine periods and revisiting the rules around who can visit Cayman.
Based on the information that we have at this time, we are not considering a lockdown.
We will hold a press briefing at 5pm this afternoon to further update our community about this developing situation. I know there is a tremendous amount of anxiety and heightened concern, especially because to us there is nothing more important than our children. We are committed to being open, transparent and honest with you, so you will remain informed when the additional test results come back. I salute our dedicated public health officials who are working tirelessly to reassure and keep our staff, parents and students safe.
I urge the community to continue to remain vigilant, rely on trusted news sources for official information and to comply with public health guidance and regulations. If you feel uncertain or display possible symptoms, please contact the Flu Hotline at 947-3077 or 1-800-534-8600. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
In closing, I extend my very best wishes for a speedy recovery to that dear student, and to all others who have recently tested positive.
The following is the original press release from GIS:
Public Health officials along with the Ministry of Education have activated their planned response measures, in line with the current Public Health COVID-19 protocols, following the Chief Medical Officer’s report of the COVID-19 test results for one Year 6 student at George Town Primary School on 13 September 2021.
“Since receiving notification late Monday evening that one of our students has tested positive for COVID-19, we, along with Public Health, have immediately activated our Continuity of Operations Plan for schools. In consultation with Public Health authorities, our staff will be on the ground at GTPS to oversee the implementation of the appropriate measures, and to provide support and guidance where needed,” assured Director of Education Services, Mr Mark Ray.
Parents of students of the George Town Primary School (GTPS) are asked to assist as follows:
- Students and their families should remain at home until they are contacted on Tuesday morning by the school administration and advised of a time their year group will be tested for COVID-19
- Students and accompanying family members are asked to wear masks and take all precautions around hand hygiene and physical distancing
- School facilities and buses will be sanitised
- Families will be supported by the school counsellor and other staff
“I want to reassure the community that Public Health is doing everything to ensure the safety of our students. We can all appreciate that this is a very difficult time for many of us in the community. However, it is best not to spread misinformation, and to cooperate with Public Health officials at this time. I am thankful that we are a highly vaccinated community; which will serve us well during times like these,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr John Lee.
GTPS will remain closed until they receive clearance to return to school from Public Health.
All students and parents are advised to wear masks at all other government school facilities.