The Ministry of Health and Wellness has provided additional telephone numbers that persons can call to acquire information and make reports regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
These are: 888-754-7792; 876-542-5998; 876-542-6007; and 876-542- 6006, and are in addition to the 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) toll-free number.
This was announced by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in a statement to the House of Representatives on Thursday (March 12).
He encouraged persons with queries about the virus to utilise the numbers, adding that an Emergency Response Unit that has been activated is operating on a 24-hour basis.
In this regard, he said the “lines we are putting in will offer that kind of [24-hour access] support” to deal with COVID-19, of which Jamaica has recorded its first two imported cases.
Dr. Tufton said the Ministry is working to add more lines and other points of contact for members of the public to share their concerns.
Dr. Tufton told the House that plans are being finalised to have a “BPO-type set-up within [the emergency response unit] so that there will be multiple persons manning the lines”.
“We do take the point that it is better for persons to call in initially and have a discussion rather than just turning up at a hospital. That would overwhelm the system and, in some instances, it may not be the safest approach if you are trying to control the potential spread of the virus,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton encouraged persons who may have come into contact with the two individuals testing positive, to call the Ministry.
He disclosed that the Ministry has, to this end, also commenced a contact tracing exercise to track individuals to identify and locate those persons, while advising that the Government is in the process of gazetting COVID 19.
Dr. Tufton said as at Thursday, March 12, a total of 296 persons had arrived from countries of interest to Jamaica.
Of that number, 65 persons were refused landing and returned to their destination; 39 are in quarantine at a government facility and eight in home quarantine; while 12 are in isolation, including the two persons testing positive for COVID-19.
The Minister said samples have been taken from the other persons in isolation, adding that “we await the results and will advise the country on those”.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton urged members of the public to “be concerned but not to panic, and to continue to support us in our efforts to overcome this public health challenge”.
“COVID-19 remains a clear and present danger. We now have a COVID-19 Comprehensive Response Plan, which has received the approval of the Prime Minister Andrew Holness-led National Disaster Risk Management Council,” he said.
The Minister said the plan, which will cost just under $2 billion in the first instance, is designed to guide the direction, coordination and management of the health response; and support emergency response agencies in the implementation of the national plan.
Additionally, it will govern and guide the monitoring and evaluation of key actions in public health to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency in achieving the stated strategic goals of the Government.
These include delaying, detecting, containing, managing and communicating information regarding COVID-19 as well as mobilising the requisite resources to ensure the comprehensive implementation of key actions needed to realise the plan’s goals.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).