Immediate changes to isolation rules

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

With immediate effect, fully vaccinated people in a household with COVID-positive members are no longer required to isolate so long as they return negative results on lateral flow tests.

This change is among a series of revisions the Public Health Department has made to isolation and quarantine requirements for residents and visitors who are not required to quarantine.

The department said the changes were being made because the Omicron variant is now the dominant strain being found in COVID test results in Cayman.

The revisions come amid growing discontent in the community about what have been described as “onerous” restrictions in response to the Omicron variant and increasing numbers of locally transmitted COVID cases, at a time when other jurisdictions were loosening their isolation restrictions.

Until today, a vaccinated person with a negative test living with a person who tested positive for Omicron had been mandated to quarantine for 10-14 days, while negative people living with individuals with the Delta strain had been allowed to move about freely if they returned negative LFT test results.

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The Public Health Department said in a statement Tuesday morning that the changes were “intended to minimise the impact on families and businesses”.

As of Monday, 10 Jan., there were 3,430 active cases of COVID in Cayman, accounting for 4.82% of the population, including seven in hospital. Since the first case of Omicron was reported here in December, 1,615 people have tested positive for that strain in PCR tests.

New rules

Vaccinated Positives

Fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days, with a negative PCR test required on day 11 to exit isolation.

Vaccinated contacts

Vaccinated individuals who are primary contacts of COVID-19 positive people must conduct daily lateral flow testing for 10 days, but may continue usual activities.

Unvaccinated positives

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated persons who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 14 days, with a negative PCR test required on day 15 to exit isolation.

Unvaccinated contacts

Unvaccinated individuals in the household of a positive must quarantine for 14 days.
Public Health later clarified that unvaccinated children under the age of 18, who share a home with a positive case, can attend school if they continue to return negative LFT tests over 10 days.

A primary contact is defined by Public Health as a person who has had (from two days before and up to 14 days after the case’s positive result) face-to-face within six feet of a COVID-positive person for 15 minutes or more in a single day; had direct contact, such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands; or living in the same household.

A fully vaccinated person is defined as an individual who has had at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.

‘Remain vigilant’

“As the pandemic continues, Public Health will adapt its practices and policies to best suit the needs of the community. We ask that the public remain vigilant and in tune with government communication channels so they are following the most current guidance at any given time,” Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Autilia Newton said in the statement.

She added, “We rely on individuals to report any positive LFTs to Public Health, and on the community and their employers to support them in this.”

Under the rules, people who test positive through certified lateral flow testing or a home kit are still required to isolate and take a PCR test with the Health Services Authority at the next available testing clinic.

Testing clinics for these individuals are held daily from 1-2pm at the South Sound Community Centre.

Private flights an option

Health officials emphasised that individuals with travel declarations who test positive while in the Cayman Islands must follow the new process, and that those travellers, and their primary contacts, must receive a negative PCR exit test from the Public Health Department, before they can be permitted to board a commercial flight departing the Cayman Islands.

Those who are positive, would like to leave the country, and are able to secure a private flight, should apply to Travel Cayman for special permission by emailing [email protected]

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