Cayman not fully prepared for Ebola

| 14/10/2014

(CNS): Around 80 people showed up at a public awareness meeting at the hospital on Monday night to hear what plans the local health and other government authorities have in place to deal with a case of the deadly Ebola virus, should it reach these shores. Dr Kiran Kumar the medical officer of health said that people shouldn’t panic as he believed the possibility of the virus coming here was still very remote as he admitted that plans to deal with a possible case were not yet finalised. He said discussions were still underway about where any infected person could be held and assessments had yetto be completed regarding the protective equipment and resources that would be needed.

Although government hasn’t issued any travel bans and there are no plans to do so yet, Kumar urged people not to go to the West African countries where the virus has taken a hold be it for humanitarian or any other reason. He said there was just one resident in Cayman from Liberia which has seen around 2500 people die from the disease and 14 from Nigeria where eight people died and where the virus appears to have been contained.

Kumar noted that only three people have passed through Cayman’s airports since the beginning of the year that had come from West Africa so the country does not have any real cause for concern regarding travel from the impacted countries. However, he said that public officials will monitor closely the situation in Texas to see how many people who have been quarantined will test positive for the virus. Several dozen people in the Dallas areas were isolated as a result of coming into contact with either the nurse Nina Pham who is now infected or the patient she cared for, Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

Kumar confirmed that if anyone is diagnosed in Cayman they will be treated here and the hospital is seeking to identify an entirely separate unit somewhere on the hospital grounds or nearby where a treatment centre come be isolated. He said that by the middle of next week the public health department will know exactly what equipment it needs from the WHO recommended list to enable the local hospital to cope in the first few days before it would expect to receive support from international health agencies.

“According to WHO we need to have personal protective equipment etc. and a facility. We are working on all those things and taking stock of items on the list and we will order what we haven’t got.”

The doctor said that all government agencies from those involved in border control to hazard management have been meeting and brainstorming about the best way to keep the virus out of Cayman but also how to tackle a case if a person infected arrives here and he said there is a skeleton plan although it is not yet fully formed.

“We have contingency plans and have identified how we could deal with a case but we have not come to any final conclusions,” Kumar said.

Outlining the details of the disease its spread and its mortality rate which was confirmed Tuesday as 70% by WHO Dr Kumar pointed out that those caring for patients in the last stages of the sickness are the most vulnerable.

So far experts on the disease have indicated that those with casual contact during the early part of the contagious period with someone who has Ebola do not appear to be contracting the virus. Dr. Julie Fischer, an associate research professor of health policy at George Washington University has told the US media that the “casually exposed are not getting sick,” which is reassuring for successful containment in the US.

Health experts claim the disease is hard to catch, that an infected person is not contagious until symptoms appear and that Ebola is spread by close contact with bodily fluids such as blood, sweat and saliva. No evidence points to anything else.

Nevertheless, health care workers are at high risk and have been hard-hit during this outbreak. They are the ones dealing with patients at their most contagious and even following strict protocols two nurses in western countries have caught the disease from patients.

If an infected person arrives in Cayman, while those who come casually into contact with the patient may not be at risk, the health care workers at the hospital who are assigned to that patient are at themselves at increasing risk as the patient gets sicker. Dr Kumar confirmed there would need to be training to ensure staff can protect themselves, and how to wear the protective bio suits. He said it was important to know not just how to put on and wear the protective suits but how to remove them and dispose of the suits after treating Ebola patients, safely. It is understood that the Dallas nurse was exposed to Ebola during the removal process.

Cayman is not yet screening patients but the West African nations impacted are exit screening and the US and European airports are also beginning to screen. This means that anyone carrying Ebola would have gone through at least two screenings before they arrived in Cayman.

Kumar admitted that it would not be possible to say Cayman will not get a case but the chances he said were remote. He said if therewas a case Cayman would cope but admitted that no one could know what would happen if there was a worldwide epidemic of the virus.

Category: Health

Comments (68)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is it true the speaker of the house is currently in Africa at some sort of conference? I know it's not all of Africa affected but still…why take the chance (if this is true)??

    • Anonymous says:

      It is true, and she is back now! My question is what was done when her and her party returned to ensure the safety of the people of these islands. They were in Cameoon of which the neighboring Country has been affected by Ebola. This is a serious concern.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It seems obvious to me that Health Care Workers and Experts globallly know very little about this disease and particularly how many ways it can be transmitted.

    I wonder if Dr. Kumar and the Public Health Department have looked at issues such as Aviation and the ease with which carriers can be on one side of the globe on day and in Cayman the next day ?

    For example if one tracks the British Airways aircraft that comes to Cayman you will find that the day before arriving in Cayman, that particular aircraft was in either Uganda or Russia or Nigeria or Liberia !

    I hope that we understand not just the opportunities that aviation offers but the threats that it presents as well.

  3. Jacob McT says:

    Its all media hype.

  4. Anonymous says:

    People with fevers are sick and should be in bed.  It might be a cold, the flu, or something else, but it shouldn't matter.  Frankly, nobody wants to share a seat with a coughing, sneezing, or potentially vomiting strangeras it is.  If that's the way policy goes, it might be a good thing for all – including airline industry.  Anything over 99'F and you don't get to fly.  I could live with that (pun intended).  

  5. Anonymous says:

    May I ask how many persons commenting here actually attended the meeting at the HSA; I did.  Dr. Kumar never stated that the HSA was sitting on its backside doing nothing.  He said that they are getting preparations in order with the assistance of the CDC/WHO; he also said that the senior management team of the hospital had met and was finalising their preparations.  His statement surrounding Ebola not a risk to Cayman was based on the outbreak in West African; he however said more than once that if there is an outbreak in US or Canada then Cayman will difinately get it.

    People are talking about Google – that is why so much wrong information are being passed around, people relying on google when half the information post only created more panic and are not credible.  A few days ago there was an article that made it rounds that said the CDC had finally acknowledge that Ebola was airborne – this article turned out to be a fake – even though it had CDC logo (photoshop).

    I have friends that work at the HSA and they are bursting their butts off in this preparations of Ebola.  Check with Tourism, Immigration, Customs, Airport and they will tell you all the activity that has been going on – all on the organisation of the HSA.  We need to get facts before we comment – this is what is wrong with this island. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    We welcome direct flights from multiple locations in the USA, with other direct flights from the UK, Canada and the Caribbean region.  Not to mention wherever the private planes fly in from.

    We have over 100 different nationalities in these islands.  Some of them are from various African countries who serve us in retail, medical and financial sectors.  Do they not take vacation to visit family back home or have family visit them?

    We have thousands of cruise passengers show up almost on a daily basis and we are heading into busy season.

    Who is foolish enough to think we are at low risk?

    HSA (and a few others) needs to wake up!

  7. Anonyanmous says:

    There was 1 infection of Ebola in Spain and about 4 in USA, this disease is not contained within borders.  What if someone unknowingly in the UK or USA comes in contact with an infected person and travels to Cayman.  It is very silly to state that Cayman is safe, NO one is safe people travel everyday.

  8. Anonyanmous says:

    We should all pray that this disease stays far away from Cayman.  We need to be sure that we are fully prepared for this in the event that it should somehow arrive here.  We need to stop this practice of having 20 people living in one house can you image if one of those people should come in contact with Ebola it would spread like wild fire in this community.  

  9. Slowpoke says:

    I love how this story is firing up the paranoid wingnuts. 

    I am away currently, but am thinking about changing my flight plans, so that I stop in Liberia, to drive evreybody insane when I come home (for Mental Health Day).

  10. Dr. Do -Little -Too -Late says:

    One of the greatest problems we have in Cayman is that the authorities  never seem to get anything done because they are never prepared! Reason! Before doing anything, they have to put together a nineteen member committee to do a study, which is generally made up of people  who have reached their level of incompetence. And!  After much valuable time wasted  they are unable to agree on anything because of their inflated egos, which will not allow them to  vote for anything that was not "their" idea. Thus there will be no consensus, the people suffer and nothing gets done!  

    Afterward they'll all celebrate! While Singing their theme song: "WE DID IT OUR WAY"

  11. Anonymous says:

    Secondary effect. Are business' dependant on the cruise ships prepared?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Kumar,

    in this days of internet, people are reasonably  well informed  about Ebola and its cause, spread, mortality etc .

    with this background, please do not insult our inteligence  with your story about Cayman being a very low risk etc in your statement.

    Reading through your statement, I can only summaries that we are ill prepared . You giving a fall sense of confidence that resources can be accessed overseas when needed.

    Doc, even a country like USA was caught on the wrong foot. Here, you have wasted the last few weeks with no training of the public and the health care workers.

    please do also realize that there is a chain right down to the effective disposing of the bio hazard waste. 

    I request our Health Minister to bring in an outside expert to oversee our preparedness as our in house system has failed

     

     

     

    • Caymanian x says:

      "please do not insult our inteligence  with your story" – from time I read this statement I stop reading. Your tone sounds very disrespectful. Kumar is my doctor so I will defend him despite statements that he has made.  

  13. Anonymous says:

    I wish some of you people would just hush up as you all have nothing to offer – tell me was the great USA prepared – a patient turned up in their emergency room with all the symptoms + travel histroy from Liberia and what they send him back home.  The nurses at the Texas hospital are now claiming that they were not properly trained, didnt know how to put on the PPE hence their exposure to the patient.  The great USA only have 5 hospitals in the whole country that is ready for Ebola and you all have the nerve to speak negative about the H.S.A.

    Most of you are sitting on your romps and have no clue the preparations presently been undertaken by the H.S.A. what you all need to do is to encourage your private doctors whom  we all love to run to, to get involved with the preparations, learn what is proposing so that they wont panic they way they are doing now when a chick v patient turn up at their practices – half of them dont have a clue what to do – and yes my husband had chick v and his clueless private doctor couldnt help – thanks to H.S.A A/E and Public Health.

     

  14. Anonymous says:

    Any cases of Ebola should be isolated in a negative pressure isolation stretcher for airevacuation to one of the four hospitals in North America with biocontainment units.  Emory University Hospital in Altlanta, Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha are the two public of these.    There are currently only 19 Level 4 biocontainment beds in the whole of the USA, and only four beds in the UK.  Let's all hope they never get used.  

    There's a good article in Wired 8 Aug 2014 if anyone interested, "How Isolation Units Contain Ebola…".  Someone should have forwarded a copy to the nurses at Texas Health Pres Hospital.   

     

     

  15. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone realise that Cayman Airways and other fly to and from Dallas on a weekly basis.  Trust me the possiblility is very real!!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Where can you get those suits?  I need a Halloween costume.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you can re-hash an old zombie costume and go as an ebola victim.  Surely that is the outfit de mode for Halloween 2014.

  17. Anonymous says:

    "possibility of the virus coming here is still very remote." he says.. It was very unlikely of it making its way to Dallas as well, but look now they have three confirmed cases. Step up Cayman!

    We all better start investing in boats cause we are not at all ready for this and should it come I can tell you I'll be chilling out in the North Sound away from everyone!

    • Anonymous says:

      If reports are true, our very own "JuJu" and entoruage are currently in Cameroon.

      "Soon come" as they say.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here we go again Cayman …. entertaining the advice of yet another 'professional with expertise' who naively and publicly states in wake of what is rapidly becoming a global endemic, and I quote "I feel that exposed persons coming to Cayman, the chances are very remote". and to advise the citizens of my country to not panic about Ebola. Seriously!!!! There are over 115 nationalities on this island alone who are free to travel to and from theiir respective cuntries. Kindly step aside Dr Kumar you have done your part. Now listen to me HSA if you think there is no urgency in drafting an Emergency  Preparedness Plan to monitor foreign residents and visitors to these islands at all borders, as the old folks would say "Dog eat our supper" If you seriously think any nation with vaccines and stockpile of medical supplies or other antidotes will distribute these when they themselves or their countries are placed on high risk then you too will  face a harsh reality and live the nightmare your lack of/delayed planning and decisions which placed residents of these islands at risk. PLAN AND PROTECT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!! Or we all becoma victims!!! 

  18. Anonymous says:

    And it will never be. 

  19. MEM says:



    Didn't they say that we had little chance of Chickungunya coming here too??? Just curious… and I am not buying the crap about it not being airborne, saliva can be airborne through a sneeze and that is body fluid – so Ebola is airborne enough for me! A tiny island like Cayman will be devastated by such a virus as we are all a stones throw from eachother, time to choose a cave on the bluff!

    • Anonymous says:

      Tell me when and where you heard such a statement – we need to stop spreading lies and propoganda to make ourselves look good.  For the get go we were told that the had the Aedes Agypoti mosquitos here hence we had a real chance of getting it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Have more public meetings!
    They are buffets for Ebola.

  21. The Undercover Reporter says:

    Dear Doctor Kumar here's what you should do! They do it for hurricanes and other emergencies. Have your hospital staff  "do a drill" rehearse as if there were a case of someone landing on our island who is suspect of having this virus. Make sure you have a more than adequate supply of Haz-mat protective suits for those who will be at the fore front of this thing should it happen.Cayman and the authorities in the U. S.  and also Great Britain and Jamaica. places from which we have direct flights. Get civilian volunteers and train them for neighborhood operations. Establish dedicated telephone hot lines that persons in the field can contact doctors or other officials necessary when needed to assist someone in the field. Start now by telling people to double up on their vitamin c and use of food grade hydrogen peroxide to build up oxygen in the blood. Bring in tons of it. So that people can buy it, and you teach them how to administer it on their own. There is so much info on the internet now about this thing. It might be necessary to halt all flights coming from any place but the sister islands. 

    LET"S BE PREPARED!

  22. Anonymous says:

    They are depending on the exit screening of other airports! Sweet!!!! What about the cruise ships? We need to do our own screening…. Hello??? Let's get with the program!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I for one have no fear of this hyped-up ebola. My faith is in God and greater is He that is in me than hethat is in the world. Go ahead, spread your fear porn. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound mind.

    If you find yourselves panicking in these times, just look to the Lord Jesus Christ. By his stripes we are healed. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Just like all those Christians in Liberia have and God has only decided to give 50% of them, even nuns are dying, faith seems to be working well

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen, amen and amen.  My God has my back and if by chance I do get it my faith will still remain strong.   

  24. Anonymous says:

    Oh, good God, CNS. Not you as well? So you put yourselves in the same vaunted company as the New York Times?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQu18bom5nw

    Please, give us the other side of the story once in a while. PLEASE!

  25. Anonymous says:

    There's so much we're not ready for. Just think….we only have 3 – 4 ambulances….not even sufficient to handle a serious motor accident, let alonean airline accident or office building fire.

     

  26. 4Cayman says:

    How would one complete blood transfusion if they are quaratine on island? Surly this sounds like a death sentence?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I was born in the Cayman Islands and I am a educated medical professional that lives in the USA.  Trust me, the Caymans are not prepared to handle any causes of Ebola.  The islands do not have the proper medical conditions, lack of safety, lack of proper medical training of staff, lack of proper medical equipment, etc, Caymans are not prepared to handle protential cases of Ebola.  What do they think?  Do they think Ebola is a commonsore throat?  Come on folks let's get real and tell Caymanians the truth.  Even in the USA where they have much better advanced medical care, they are struggling on how to deal with Ebola.  Stats show now that Ebola is fatal real quick up to 70% fatality.  Ask the CDC (Center for Diases Control in Atlanta, Georgia) have bad Ebola is.

    • Anonymous says:

      18:11, we will soon find out how prepared we are when JuJu and Co. return from Cameroon.

    • Anonymous says:

      For someone who claims to be an educated medical professional your poor use of the English language is astounding and I dare say that I would be reluctant to see you on a professional basis.  If you want to tout your qualifications you might also want to read over what you have written and correct spelling errors, usage errors, and double negatives so as to actually present a reasonable argument.  I also am Caymanian and have chosen to continue to live and work here.

  28. Anonymous says:

    There's lots of information available to have formulated a more intelligent plan by now.  At minimum, GT Hospital should have acquired a negative pressure isolation stretcher to put any victims in for immediate transport somewhere else with the facilities and training to deal with it properly.  The best of intentions, kitchen garbage bags, and duct tape are not going to contain it.  Rationalizing that casual contact is fine is precisely why there is an epidemic in West Africa.  Let's not even pretend we're going to try to treat the disease, and safely dispose of bodies.  Buy the $1000 stretcher that we hope we'll never have to use.  

  29. Anonymous says:

    Quite re-assuring!! We are playing ostrich as always!  It only takes one infected person to reach our shores!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Only a baya is immune to Ebola, scientific studies show

    • Anonymous says:

      Why don't you go to Africa and confirm to the world? Cayman would be better off without you. Idiot. 

  31. Anonymous says:

    No Second Chances – If this threat is not taken as the most urgent issue that has ever faced our Islands, we WILL ALL DIE.  There is no room here for late responses, blaming, sidestepping, incompetence, politics etc..  EBOLA = CERTAIN DEATH

    We cannot say we were not warned

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually it's about 50% death

      • Anonymous says:

        World Health Organization has put it at 70% so far.  It is not as simple as counting the number of deaths vs the number of infected.   Some of those infected have yet to die.   You need to look at individual cases and if they were able to beat back the virus.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ebola is not certain death as many have recovered, its fatality rate fluctuates from 50% with good medical care to 85%. Certainly not certain. Rabies is far more effective killer, as it is 100% deathrate after inital symptoms are shown, and it is ahorrific deat. It also kills far more people every year than Ebola, killing around 50,000 a year. Frankly be more afraid of rabies making to the island especially with the large number of bats here

      • Anonymous says:

        What you are saying is 100% correct and influenza(flu) related deaths are approximately 250,000-500,00 worldwide per year.  Ebola may be scary and incurable but definitely not a guaranteed death sentence.  Incurable does not equal untreatable. We all just need to be smart and aware of the possibility of it being brought to Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      EBOLA = CERTAIN DEATH….

      except for the 5000+ people who have survived the disease, of course.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is not prepared for a lot of things in this world let aone Ebola, recent events clearly highlight that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don't worry Dr Kumar said it is very unlikely cayman will see it…just like Obama said the US won't see any Ebola…..

  33. Anonymous says:

    Shocker!!!, not.  

  34. Anonymous says:

    I believe that there is an unused building at the landfill site that could be converted into an isolation unit.

    • Anonymous says:

      Love it!  We can't put prisoners there but can put sick people there. So when they die, do we just leave them outsde the isolation room to continue to rot? 

      • Anonymous says:

        20:47.No,we incenerate them.

        • Anonymous says:

          What are the effects of inhaling the ashes that were Ebola infected? What about animals consuming those ashes? 

          Why can't we burn the prisoners too? 

  35. Anonymous says:

    So if we are not prepared, why then is the Speaker of the House off for one of her jaunts to Cameroon. Will she be checked and qarantined upon he return from an Africa country?

    Very inconsiderate and probably a totally unnecesarytrip.

    Has anyone else gone with her? We need to know, I for one will be avoiding her and anyone else who travelled there.

     
    • Anonymous says:

      We heard that some lady lawyer is gone with Julianna. May God Almighty protect her as we do not need that here. That will not be the place for her to go to do Missionary work after the next Election as was rumoured.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would she be quarantined?  Ebola is not being transmitted in Cameroon. And it NEVER has been. The same can be said for 41 of the total 54 countries in Africa.

      Supposing an Ebola case is dagnosed in Puerto Rico in a patient who traveled from the Ebola outbreak region. Should Caymanians then be quarantined when travelling just because we are from the same Caribbean region?

      • Anonymous says:

        I think you will find that there are 58 countires that make up Africa.

        And in case you have never seen a picture of Africa, Cameroon borders Nigeria, where Ebola is XXXXX rampant you complete and utter donkey.

        • Anonymous says:

          Rapant in Nigeria? 8 deaths there and none even close to the Cameroon border, and you are insulting people with your complete lack of knowledge?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, Cameroon borders Nigeria. According to Wikipedia there are 54 sovereign states in Africa (and 10 non-sovereign territories), not 58.

          One patient arrived in Lagos, Nigeria from LIberia on July 20. He was identified as possibly having Ebola and isolated. He later died on July 25. 

          Unfortunately several health care workers involved in his treatment also fell ill.  In total 20 patients (including the initial traveler from Liberia) were diagnosed with the disease and 8 died in NIgeria.  There has not been a new case of Ebola in Nigeria since September 5. No patients have been treated or in isolation for monitoring in Nigeria since September 24.

          The epidemological definition of a country being Ebola-free is a period of twice the longest known incubation peirod without a newly diagnosed case. Nigeria will reach that mark on Monday, October 20 and be officially Ebola-free. Unlike the USA.

          Ready to prohibit all flights from Canada because a neighboring country has Ebola spreading?

  36. Collusion says:

    I believe the Hurricane Hilton Inn on top off the bluff in Cayman Brac is the ideal place to send our sick.

  37. Anonymous says:

    It doesn't matter how small or big the risk is and whether we are talking about Ebola or any other highly contagious and likely to be deadly disease. The country needs to have a plan in place, there need to be certain preparations done and surely as hell some training with the respective doctors, nurses and other health professionals who would be the likely the ones dealing with those who have gotten infected. It is not called panic, it is called preparation and we do live in the year 2014, so let's not pretend we are no longer effected and isolated!

  38. Anonymous says:

    you don't say! The Speaker of House just flew off to Ebola-ville for Pete's sake!

  39. Anonymous says:

    Is this anything new.  This island not ready for anything, we have more idiots in positions they shouldn't have.  I can't wait to leave this place!!