Archive for June, 2014

Cayman’s first chikungunya case confirmed

| 30/06/2014 | 8 Comments

(CNS): In the face of the current regional outbreak of chikungunya virus local public health officials have confirmed the first imported case into the Cayman Islands by a returning resident. Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said the patient, who has been treated and released from the Cayman Islands Hospital is no longer infectious and at present there is no evidence of local transmission of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands. Nevertheless the senior doctor has stated that Cayman needs to remain alert regarding the disease.
“Chikungunya is not directly transmitted from person to person, but a mosquito biting a person with Chikungunya fever can spread the virus to another person,” he explained.

“Persons, who develop symptoms within two weeks of having returned from countries with Chikungunya cases, are considered imported,” Dr Kumar explained. “While we need to be alert, and take preventative measures, we need not be alarmed of one case. For Aedes mosquitoes to transmit Chikungunya they must bite infected persons, who then become infectious and transmit the disease.”

People who develop Chikungunya symptoms within two weeks of having returned from countries with the disease should consult their physician and inform of their travel history, the public health official stated.

The MRCU Director, William Petrie has also confirmed that his department will be monitoring the situation and last week confirmed that the unit would be concentrating spraying efforts in the area of George Town as the resident who contracted Chikungunya while overseas is understood to reside in the capital.

However, the fight to keep the Aedes aegypti population down locally can be greatly assisted by people clearing yards of containers that can hold water, as these are favourite breeding sites.

Meanwhile, the health minister Osbourne Bodden, said in addition to the Health Services Authority, the Public Health Department and the MRCU taking proactive measures to combat the disease the ministry is offering its full backing on all on the early detection and management of any imported cases, in order to curtail local transmission.

As of 30 June 4,970 confirmed Chikungunya cases have occurred in 25 Caribbean countries. These include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominica Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Barthelemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Sint Maarten, St Martin, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac. For further information on Chikungunya, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 or 244-2632.

Key Facts on Chikungunya
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for Chikungunya.
Since 2004, Chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions globally, with considerable morbidity and suffering.
The disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In recent decades mosquito vectors of Chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in a localized outbreak in north-eastern Italy.
 

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Missing teen returns home safe, police confirm

| 30/06/2014 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Following an alert to the wider public regarding a missing teen on Monday evening, Police confirmed Tuesday morning that 13 year old Kasey Niketta Edwards has returned home safely. Just after 10:00pm on Monday night officers of the Bodden Town Police Station received information that Edwards was home and an officer visited her and her mother and saw she appeared to be in good health. Edwards was reported missing after she was last seen hitch-hiking on Sunday at noon on Hirst Road in Savannah close to Countryside. Police thanked all those who had helped in the search for the teenage girl.

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Civil service bank accused of twitter leak

| 30/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): A local activist who is well known for not taking what she sees as wrongdoing lying down has filed an official complaint with both the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority after details of her personal finances were ‘tweeted’ by a local bank employee. Sandra Catron is taking on another battle after a teller at the Civil Service Association Co-Operative Credit Union referred to confidential issues about her loan with the bank as part of a recent twitter thread about Catron’s exposure of two girls in an after-hours nightclub sex romp. Catron has said she is furious that the incident happened but even more incensed that the bank has taken the accusations so lightly. Read more on CNS Business

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Haines crosses line in 3rd hospice marathon race

| 30/06/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): In what is turning out to be an amazing challenge for the local veteran marathon runner, Derek Haines finished his third marathon of the year this weekend in Spain. Haines crossed the finish line in the debut Pamplona marathon which he ran with his daughter Lizzy in a l4 hours, 12 minutes. Although Haines was recovering from a cold and found this marathon tough, having his daughter by his side, who also happens to be a doctor, he kept on going and finished marathon number three in his six race challenge to raise $1million to build an impatient care facility for the local hospice.

Talking about the race Haines said: "Lizzy and I collected our running bibs on Saturday morning and were made very welcome. Our photographs were taken and used in an article in the local paper on Sunday morning. Race time came all too soon and we set off with a firm breeze blowing. The remnants of my head and chest cold played havoc for the first 10 miles with breathing painful and difficult. Doc. Lizzy was quite concerned but kept a morale boosting banter going as I thought that our pace was slow," he said.

Nestling at 1600 feet in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Haines said that Pamplona is a beautiful city .

"The course was mildly undulating but very pretty as it took us by the sites of the city and looped into the surrounding countryside with a long stretch by the river. At 12 miles I was hit by Montezuma's revenge. After that we got into a better pace and started to overtake. Our halfway was slow at 2.07 but we were never overtaken after that and moved up the places. Darkness brought drizzle and I felt the cold but we kept it going with good support from the locals and our support team who made it to several places on the route.

"The last 5 miles called for strength from the depths but with great encouragement from Lizzy and the crowds the historic Bullring came into view and we finished in 4.12,"he added.

With the pledged total running at close to $600,000 at the half way point there are high hopes that the figure will soar towards the million in the coming weeks after both of Cayman’s local telecom market leaders have created a way for cell phone customers to donate money directly to the cause by texting ‘Derek’ to GIVE (4483) to donate $5.

With the Spanish marathon behind him the 65 year old veteran distance runner will get just a few weeks rest before he will be pounding the pavement in San Francisco on 27 July for another gruelling 26 plus mile race. 

For more information and to make a donation go to www.six4hospice.com

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Gallery offers artistic ways to keep kids busy

| 30/06/2014 | 0 Comments

CNS): The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is hosting a variety of art-related activities for kids this summer thanks to the support of Scotiabank. From a special Cine Club for kids to group tours, activity guides, scavenger hunts for the family, and free coffee and tea for Gallery members, there is something for everyone to make their summer a creative one, including on Cayman Brac, the National Gallery said this week. Admission to the gallery exhibition halls is free including scavenger hunts that take visitors on an exploration of the collection Family Activity Guides for the current exhibition entitled Metamorphoses are also available throughout the summer.

Summer Camp Drop-Ins
During the Summer Camp Drop-ins children will take part in a range of art activities, including printmaking, cool crafts, painting, drawing and much more! Studio classes take place at the National Gallery Education Centre every Thursday afternoon beginning 3 July 2014 and ending 12 August 2014. Admission to the drop-ins is free. The space is limited to 20 students and is made available on a first-come basis. For more information about the Summer Camp Drop-ins, email education@nationalgallery.org.ky or call (345) 945 8111.
 

Summer Cine Club for Kids
This summer the National Gallery will host a special Cine Club just for kids! Films have been selected for their quality and originality, and the series covers a range of genres including fiction, animation, and the classics. All films are rated PG and children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Popcorn, cookies, and juice will be served at all showings and a list of screenings can be found on the National Gallery website under the ‘lectures and screenings’ section. For more information about the Summer Cine Club for Kids, email education@nationalgallery.org.ky or call (345) 945 8111.
Film screenings include:
Mary Poppins (1964). USA. 1 July, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
The Red Balloon (1956). France. 8 July, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Night at the Museum (2006). USA. 15 July, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Frozen (2013). USA. 22 July, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Jumanji (1995). USA. 29 July, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Phineas and Ferb: The Movie – Across the 2nd Dimension (2011). USA. 5 August, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Hugo (2011). UK. 12 August, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Dairy of a Wimpy Kid (2010). USA. 19 August, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
 

Summer Art Camp in Cayman Brac
The annual Cayman Brac Summer Art Camp will be held 23 August 2014. The one day action-packed summer camp will feature local artist Monte Thorton and cover a wide variety of art activities anddiscussions. The day will conclude with an evening lecture and art show of the work completed during the Summer Art Camp. For details and to register, get in touch with us at education@nationalgallery.org.ky or call (345) 945 8111.
 

Summer Art Parties at the National Gallery 
The National Gallery offers Art Parties for private groups of all ages. Art Parties take place in the Susan A. Olde Education Centre and include refreshments and interactive art activities. All Art Parties can be booked through the NGCI Events Department. Bookings help support the National Gallery’s education department and outreach programmes. For information on how to book a Summer Art Party, email events@nationalgallery.org.ky or call (345) 945 8111
 

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Merren moved to secret US jail location

| 30/06/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The US authorities have moved a Caymanian businessman from a jail in Puerto Rico to an undisclosed location elsewhere in the United States. It is understood that Bryce Merren, who was arrested by police in the United States territory in connection with a drug smuggling charge back in March, has been transported to another jail for security reasons. The 47-year-old has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking and money laundering allegations but he remains on remand until his anticipated trial in August, which is understood to be taking place Puerto Rico. Sources told CNS that Merren was moved earlier this month from the Guaynabo prison to a different location on the US mainland. (Photo courtesy of Spike)

Merren is accused of being part of a drug smuggling ring conspiracy involving some five kilograms of cocaine and was caught out in a US undercover operation. The US authorities allege that he met undercover agents acting as dealers looking to set up a smuggling ring involving as much as 3000 kilos of cocaine and Merren was to assist with the laundering of the cash involved.

 

 

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Iconic catboat reinterpreted for gallery top spot

| 30/06/2014 | 4 Comments

(CNS): A unique new sculpture by local artist Davin Ebanks will be unveiled Tuesday at the entrance of the National Gallery. The eight foot piece, which was the winner of a national competition launched by the gallery and sponsored by Cayman Water Authority at the end of 2013, will sit permanently in the prominent location. In his winning proposal to the judging panel, Ebanks said his piece aimed to blend past and present Cayman. To achieve that goal, he drew on the form a half-model of a traditional Caymanian catboat and reworked this as a minimalist concrete and glass sculpture.The sculpture is two halves of a bow and stern stood upright and situated side by side to create a dynamic form. 

At the centre of Ebanks’ piece is a focal point made out of glass, which captures the light and beauty of the environment. The fragile reflective inset, encased by two onyx-coloured concrete columns, will be made even more striking by the contrasting solemnity and solidity of these two forms.

Whereas virtual images of this sculpture have been published, the physical sculpture itself has yet to be seen by anyone. “Being able to see it in 3D and walk around it will be an entirely different experience from judging it on paper,” said the competition organiser Emé Paschalides. “The back of the sculpture will be a surprising discovery, like an envelope letting out a secret or a flower blooming open.”

The public sculpture will be a reminder to Gallery visitors and passers-by of the importance of thinking creatively and passionately, allowing on-lookers the opportunity to meditate upon the beautiful whole that can be created when cultural variations are brought together, officials from the gallery stated ahead of the unveiling.

“We are thrilled to be unveiling this important piece of public art which stands as a permanent celebration of our maritime heritage, and are extremely grateful to Water Authority Cayman for their vision in partnering with us on this project,” said National Gallery Director, Natalie Urquhart. “Public art plays an important role in society and is often a forum through which to express a country’s unique iconography. Importantly, by bringing artwork “outside” the traditional walls of an art museum and into the public domain it makes the work accessible to the public at all times.”

In its location immediately in front of the gallery’s entrance Urquhart said it will serve as a dynamic introduction to the other artworks in the National Collection which are housed inside the Gallery.

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ACU struggles with caseload

| 30/06/2014 | 39 Comments

(CNS): With 23 live cases and only two officers, the Anti-Corruption Unit is struggling to deal with its growing workload. Since the formation of the unit, which is directed by the Anti-Corruption Commission, the ACU has opened over 100 investigations based on allegations against police, customs and immigration staff, government officials, members of the Legislative Assembly and government boards. However, the officersare struggling to investigate what are described as complex cases due to a lack of resources and in at least five cases where the officers believed the evidence was suffice to mount a case the director of public prosecutions (DPP) has refused to charge the suspects.

With a budget of just over $260,000, the two officers are borrowing resources from the RCIPS to try and keep up with their mounting case load. With 23 live investigations, two of which are currently awaiting a decision from the DPP, the officers are pushed beyond the ability of two people and the commission is pressing for an increase in resources.

“The allocated funds do not meet the needs of the Anti-Corruption Commission,” said Deborah Bodden, who heads up the secretariat for all of the commissions relating to the constitution as well as the ACC and its unit. She said the budget prevents her from hiring more investigators when the ideal size should be at least six, given the workload. 

“The majority of the cases the unit are working on or have worked on are complex and as a result the lack of staff often hinders the unit’s ability to manage cases in a timely manner and to thoroughly exhaust all avenues in each investigation. It would be useful for the unit to consist of a minimum of six investigators,” Bodden added.

According to statistics released by the Commissions Secretariat, 77 cases reported to the commission and the unit were closed without a file being submitted to the office of the director of public prosecutions because the two officers were unable to gather enough evidence to support an offence or to say with certainty that what took place was a crime under the law. Several others were transferred to other police departments or the allegations were related to incidents that took place before the law was implemented.

The commission revealed that these closed investigations involve myriad allegations against law enforcement agencies and government officials. The accusations included 24 involving police, 22 against government staff, 13 allegations against MLAs, five against government board directors, five against immigration officers, three customs officials, two election abuse allegations, one against prison staff and one against members of the judiciary.

Where the unit submitted files to the DPP, only one case involving a police officer made it to trial under the anti-corruption law.

Former PC Elvis Ebanks was convicted last month under the law for soliciting a bribe and is expected to be sentenced next week. Patricia Webster was originally charged with anti-corruption offences when she released confidential information but these werelater altered to common law offences. She received probation as it was evident the police staffer received no benefit and there had been no criminal intent.

Edlin Myles, who was convicted of seven counts of deception last week, had also been arrested under the anti-corruption law but the DPP changed the charges to penal code offences as there were concerns that his status as a member of a non-profit making government board did not constitute a public official.

Finally, allegations against the former premier, McKeeva Bush, which are due to be tried on 8 September, include both common law and anti-corruption offences. Bush is also understood to be the subject of other as yet to be concluded corruption probes, while others have been closed.

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Two Cuban boats sent out of local waters

| 30/06/2014 | 22 Comments

(CNS): As government struggles to deal with the costs and security issues surrounding the detention of mounting numbers of Cuban migrants forced to land in Cayman, another two boats carrying Cubans were ordered to leave this weekend. On Friday evening 25 migrants out of 30 were sent away by officials after they had been in the waters around Grand Cayman for almost two weeks, while five came ashore. On Sunday another boat with 34 migrants departed with just drinking water when officials delivered an ultimatum for the migrants to leave or be detained and repatriated. The men and women were aboard a cramped open wooden boat that was about 20 feet long and revealed to witnesses that they were from eastern Cuba, and were headed for the coast of Central America. (Photo by Peter Polack)

Although some of the migrants were allowed to use the bathroom facilities at the East End public beach, they were not allowed to take food as officials would not allow any delays regarding the boats ordered departure. 

The small boat had an engine but no sails or shade and large inner tubes served as makeshift outriggers.

Under the current policy of the Cayman Islands government, migrants who come ashore are repatriated to Cuba. However, an increase in numbers and delays regarding repatriation this year has led to a number of security incidents at the immigration detention centre in Fairbanks, George Town.

The CI government is due to meet with Cuban officials later this year to review the current agreement between the two countries over the repatriation of Cuban migrants who pass through local waters.

Although under current policy they are allow to pass without hindrance, they are not allowed to seek assistance for their journey. However, although officials don’t offer support, many local people and residents often give water, food and fuel to help the migrants on their journey.

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FRC needs support for parenting skills programme

| 30/06/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS):  The Family Resource Centre is appealing to the community to donate gift certificates to be used as a prizes for families taking part in the free courses it offers to improve parenting. The government agency delivers an eight week long course between six to eight times a year, helping around 60 families annually that need skills to improve their family dynamic. At the end of the programmes the families involved celebrate their graduation and the FRC uses gift certificates to reward the families with a fun day out.

The courses are all free to the recipients and are designed to strengthen individuals and build stronger families. The Family Skills Programme (FSP), which is a closed group of 5-8 persons referred by relevant partner agencies, is one of many programmes the agency runs annually to help with social problems.

Atlantis Submarine, the Turtle Farm, Kingpin Bowling, Red Sail Sport, Ritz Carlton, Pizza Hut, Dolphin Cove, Cayman Kayak, Imaginarium, the Regal Cinema and the National Trust are all current sponsors for the programme but the Resource Centre said it is seeking more partners in the community that can help with providing the rewards.

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