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Monday, Jun 14, 2021

CIG COVID-19 Press Conference, March 10 2021

At the COVID-19 press conference today, Wednesday, 10 March 2020, Cayman Islands’ leaders announced upcoming changes to the mandatory quarantine process.

The reduction of the quarantine period to 10 days effective 22 March follows the news that 91 percent of persons over 60 have received the COVID-19 vaccination.

Noting that 38,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have already been delivered to the Cayman Islands, Governor Martyn Roper added that an additional 63K doses were expected to arrive on three BA flights, on 11 and 25 March as well as 7 April.

Also speaking at the press conference Health, Environment, Culture and Housing Minister Dwayne Seymour announced a new round of one-off stipends to musicians affected by the downturn in hospitality and entertainment industries. Minister Seymour also noted that nearly a thousand persons benefited in March from the latest round of health insurance premium payment assistance.

Meanwhile Finance Minister Roy McTaggart confirmed that the central government’s unaudited accounts at the end of 2020 showed a substantially lower than expected deficit of 38 million dollars, despite 65 million dollars in COVID-19 mitigation costs.

Prayer was led by Pastor Ashley White.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Samuel Williams reported:

Some persons receiving the COVID-19 vaccine have reported side-effects such as pain at injection site and low- grade fever, that go away with no medication or with paracetamol. While a few patients have had more serious cases, none have required admission to hospital.

Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said:

Across our three islands we have given nearly 28,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses (of Pfizer BioNTech). Thirty-one percent of the population have received one dose and 15 percent have received a full course.
When 70-80 percent of population have been vaccinated Government will move to open borders.
We have reached a much-anticipated milestone in programme having vaccinated 91% of over 60s.
This gives us confidence that the most vulnerable have been protected from the worst of the COVID-19 disease.
As a result, from 22 March, the required quarantine period will be reduced to 10 days for those who have completed a valid vaccination programme at least two weeks before travel, where everyone in their quarantine group has also been vaccinated. (A negative PCR test will still be required no more than 72 hours before departure)
Travellers will be tested again on arrival and again before they can be released from quarantine.
Government will maintain a degree of caution as: the vaccine is not 100% effective; there is a small chance the vaccinated person can carry and transmit the virus; variants of concern must be followed closely.
Whether a further reduction in quarantine follows, depends on falling infection rates globally and rising vaccination rates locally. When we reach a threshold where a substantial portion of the population have been vaccinated we could do away with quarantine altogether, but reaching 80% would require vaccination of children, something that is expected this summer.
Along with new quarantine guidelines Government shortly Gazette penalties for breaches, such as false vaccination certificates.
Read the Premier's full remarks.

His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper said:

So far the UK Government has sent 38,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to the Cayman Islands.
An additional 20,000 doses will arrive on BA flight tomorrow 11 March. This will be followed by a further 20,000 on 25 March BA flight and a final delivery of approximately 23,000 on BA flight on 7 April.
This totals over 100,000 doses which should be enough to offer two doses to all those over 16 who wish to be vaccinated.
All doses will be supplied free of charge by the British Government
The Governor urged all to take the vaccine, noting around the world there had been no serious side effects or complications. Mr Roper reiterated the positive news about vaccine effectiveness against current variants. He said the vaccine offered an opportunity to protect ourselves our loved ones and our friends and encouraged everyone to form an objective view based on trusted, official sources.
The Governor noted quarantine is working but reminded anyone coming to the Cayman Islands to follow the rules.
Read the Governor's full remarks.


Health Minister Hon. Dwayne Seymour said:

A further round of one-off $1000 stipends for musicians affected by the downturn in hospitality and entertainment industries to be paid by April 2.
Those who have applied previously and been successful do not need to reapply. Ministry team will reach out to reconfirm details
Those yet to apply but now seeking assistance may contact email: natasha.powell@gov.ky or tel. 345-244-2369.
The deadline for new applications is 19 March.
For the second round of the health insurance premium payment assistance programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Health and Health Insurance Commission (HIC). HIC vetted 220 applications, providing 984 persons with assistance in March 2021.
Persons who have yet to apply, have a deadline of 19 March to receive assistance from 1 April. These individuals should email hic@gov.ky or tel. 946-2084 to obtain an application form or request more information.
The Minister reminded the public that the programme would run from March through June 2021.

Finance Minister Hon. Roy McTaggart said:

Unaudited financial information for central government shows a deficit for the financial year 2020 that is substantially less than forecast.
Central govt ended the year with an operating deficit of $38 million. This takes into account operating revenue of $789 million (a shortfall of $35 million) and operating expenses including financing costs of $827 million.
The debt balance at the end of the year was $248.6 million. With a GDP of $4.7 billion, this means the Cayman Islands debt to GDP ratio at the end of 2020 was 5.2%, one of lowest in world
Government’s bank balance was $447.6 million. Of this $104.3 million represented General Reserves.
Seventeen ministries and portfolio have submitted their annual reports, which include financial statements, to the Auditor General’s Office. These will be consolidated with those of Statutory Authorities and Government Companies (SAGCs) to comprise the Entire Public Sector accounts for the financial year.
Revenue streams that posted strong performances during the fiscal year included categories such as stamp duty which totaled $20.6 million. The recently introduced private fund fees also yielded $5.7 million.
The improvement in the deficit also came about as a result of a reduction in expenditure. Notable examples included personnel expenditures which were $6.7 million below budget. Supplies and consumables were also underspent by $27.3 million.
The public should also understand that deficit reflects a significant level of COVID-19 expenditure. COVID mitigation spending reached $65.4 million. This included: $32.3 million for health, quarantine, PPE and related costs; $15.6 for displaced tourism workers. $4 million for support for micro and small businesses, $2 million for individuals in need, and the $1.9 million laptop initiative.
Approx. $2 million was spent to procure standby borrowing, which will only be incurred where necessary.
Government continues to be challenged by extraordinary demands from people experiencing hardship.
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