Remarks by Premier Alden McLaughlin at COVID-19 Update, Wednesday 10 March 2021.
Hello everyone, I am pleased to be with you today to bring some good news regarding Government’s National Vaccination programme. As a country we have done extremely well with the vaccine
rollout and we can all be very proud of this.
There have been nearly 320 million COVID
-19 vaccinations given around the world. In the United Kingdom and the United States, the Pfizer
accounts for around half of them. Here across our three Islands we have given almost 28,000 doses with many of these being the completion of the two-dose course.
I can further report that some 31% of our population of around 65,000 people have received at least one dose and 15% have had a full course. As many of you would have heard me say on several occasions, we would need to have 70% - 80% of all residents fully vaccinated to allow us to safely open up our borders while keeping other protections in place. We have a way to go still to achieve that goal but we are certainly well on the way and we have many to thank for this.
So, let me start by extending sincere thanks to all the staff at the HSA for working tirelessly to roll out the programme, to the United Kingdom, and the Governor’s Office, for supporting us in this opportunity for our people, and to you, the Public, for coming forward and availing yourselves of this protection.
Increasingly positive information is being received for the success of the vaccinations which have been approved for use by the World Health Organisation and Stringent Regulatory Authorities, such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union. Only recently, we have learned that the Pfizer
and AstraZeneca vaccines
are likely to give a good degree of protection not only against the infection itself but also protection against the transmission of infection from one person to another.
Further to this, studies are now showing that although some of the Variants of Concern which have caused many countries to double down on their border controls for fear of spread, the approved vaccines
continue to offer protection against serious illness and death. Information available only this week suggests that the protection offered by the Pfizer
vaccination offers protection against one of the Brazilian Variants of Concern – something that has taken a while to come to light. But we are glad that it has become known.
I am extremely pleased to also announce that we have reached a much anticipated milestone in the delivery of our programme in that we have now vaccinated well over 91% of those in our population over the age of 60 years. This gives us confidence that the most vulnerable have been protected from the worst of the COVID
-19 disease. With this target having been met, I am able to announce today that from the 22nd March the required quarantine period will be reduced from 14 to ten days for those who have completed a valid vaccination programme at least two weeks before travelling to the Cayman Islands, provided that everyone in their quarantine group has also been vaccinated. Other requirements are that a traveler:
must provide a negative PCR test that was taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure;
A negative PCR test also completed when arriving on Island;
the traveler is staying in a group where all people have received a full course of the vaccination;
to be released from quarantine the traveler must receive a negative PCR test.
Here in the Cayman Islands, we do not believe we have any community transmission of COVID
-19 which is a most enviable position to be in. Therefore, we will still maintain a degree of caution for three principal reasons.
Firstly, vaccination is not 100% effective. It works exceedingly well, but there will still be some people in whom no immune response develops in spite of having completed the course.
Secondly, although a good deal of protection is afforded by vaccination, there is still a small but finite chance that a fully vaccinated person might have a good immune response, but might still be able to carry and transmit the virus to someone else.
Thirdly, the Variants that are of Concern need to be followed very carefully – we have seen a worrying increase in infectivity which will have a direct knock-on effect of the numbers needed to be vaccinated to ensure good community protection.
The Ministry of Health is watching developments both in terms of understanding of the disease and the effectiveness of the vaccines
. We are also monitoring what happens around us for those travellers who wish to come to Cayman.
The prevalence of COVID
-19 disease is falling rapidly in the United Kingdom and the United States due to combinations of non-pharmaceutical measures, such as masks, distancing and hygiene, and a rapid roll out of the vaccination. This will be coupled with the arrival of Spring time in the Northern hemisphere, and the coronavirus
family tend to be seasonally affected so this will likely add to a further fall in infection rates.
If the falls in infection prevalence continue, and our vaccination numbers continue to rise, we should be able to further reduce the quarantine period while watching the Variants of Concern. When we reach the threshold that a substantial percentage of the population will be vaccinated, then we should be able to remove the need for quarantine altogether, but to reach a rate of, for example 80%, it is likely we will need to have vaccinations available for children too which should be coming by the Summer.
There are a few other changes which the regulations bring that I will touch on:
- Should a traveler provide a false vaccination certificate then the person will have committed an offence and are liable on conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to two years imprisonment;
- Medical Vaccination Certificates can be submitted in electronic form.
Before closing I repeat again that we have so far successfully managed our response to the pandemic and have started on the road to recovery and eventual re-opening. Let us stay the course and stay safe.
If you have not already done so, please come forward to be vaccinated. You are not only doing so for yourself, but also for your family, your loved ones and the community at large.