As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic for a second year, the Cayman Islands is marking a year without local transmission of the disease.
The country, amongst only a handful worldwide, will achieve this milestone on Sunday, July 11.
After the first case was reported in the Cayman Islands on March 13 2020, the Cayman Islands has maintained its success in battling the coronavirus through strict border control and travel regulations. Stringent technology-based quarantine measures and rigorous contact tracing have been vital.
“The Cayman Islands is one of the first jurisdictions to have avoided community transmission for this length of time. This would not be possible without the efforts of the government and the public working together to protect the country. We have to continue the good fight by now taking up the vaccines where eligible,” said Premier Wayne Panton.
The Cayman Islands Government and Public Health Department launched the Islands’ COVID-19 Vaccination Programme on January 5 2021.
Speaking to the vaccination programme, Minister for Health and Wellness, Sabrina Turner said: “The country as a whole should be proud. It is has taken so much work and often personal sacrifice for us to reach this point, where we can say we have survived a year without an outbreak or a high-risk environment.”
Turner, who has spoken previously about the risk complacency poses to the local community, urged all residents to remember that the battle to prevent community spread is far from over.
“We cannot be complacent and must remain vigilant and mindful of the potential risk of not achieving an 80 per cent vaccination rate,” she said. “I want to take this opportunity to remind the community that the more people are vaccinated, the higher our population’s level of protection becomes. This gives us hope that we could be celebrating another year from now,” she said.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr John Lee OBE, also stated that “I want to applaud Travel Cayman, our port workers, healthcare workers, as well as the wider government efforts, and, of course, public support and commitment.”
He added, “We are witnessing that vaccinations reduce the impact of COVID-19 on public and community health around the world, adding to the body of real-world evidence of their effectiveness. This is vital as we seek to find ways to reduce travel restrictions.”
There have been over three billion doses given globally with more than 900 million people now fully vaccinated. Experts agree the risk of serious side effects from vaccinations remains far smaller than its benefits.
Governor Martyn Roper remarked: “I am very proud that Cayman has reached this landmark achievement and I thank the whole community for their outstanding efforts in getting there. I strongly support the government’s campaign to encourage the public to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the wider community. Our vaccination rate compares well internationally, but we still have some way to go. As we re-open the border, it is vital that we get even more jabs in arms so we can re-open with confidence.”