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Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, is calling on Jamaicans to adhere to the COVID-19 measures implemented by the Government, and exercise greater vigilance to control the spread of the virus during the festive season.

Persons can protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19 by adhering to the established infection prevention and control measures.

These include wearing a mask while in public, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other persons, frequently washing and sanitising hands, and not gather in groups of more of than 15 persons.

To date, Jamaica has recorded 11,443 confirmed cases of the virus, with 744 recorded over the period November 25 to December 9.

“Now that we are starting to see a rise in the number of cases, we are also seeing a rise in the number of deaths, and so again a word of caution to all persons that at this time when we are expecting to see the numbers go up, we must make every effort to protect the vulnerable persons… the elderly persons, so that we do not see an increase in the number of hospitalisations and the number of deaths,” she said.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said the rise in numbers is related to the increase in travel during the holiday season as well as an increase in end-of-year activities.

The CMO was speaking at the final digital ‘COVID Conversations’ press briefing for the year, on December 10.

Meanwhile, she is urging COVID-positive persons to take the necessary precautions to prevent and limit the spread of the virus in their homes and communities.

“A lot of the cases we are seeing in Westmoreland, come out of the homes of persons who are sick and having symptoms, but we recognise that the persons within their homes are not taking precautions, and so we want to emphasise that sick persons are to stay home and precautions must be taken within the home,” Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said.

“This is especially important at this time as we approach the Christmas season and you may have families that are visiting… your homes. Precautions must be taken in the homes to prevent the spread of the disease. Not because you are at home you should feel comfortable. Sick persons should stay away from other persons and all other persons should wear their masks and practise all the [measures],” she added.

Meanwhile, the CMO said almost every community within the country has been affected by the virus.

“The number of cases that we see, the number of persons that are tested, the number of cases that we report are really just a tip of the iceberg. This gives us an idea of trends, but not every case is detected,” she said.

The CMO pointed out that not all persons report for testing, while some are asymptomatic.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said there is a gradual increase in the number of active coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the western and northern parishes of the island.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging Jamaicans to take personal responsibility and act in accordance with the protocols that have been established.

“We would much prefer to see us start 2021 looking up and looking forward to the silver lining on the horizon, which is to see the vaccine and to occupy our time with administering the vaccine,” Dr. Tufton said.

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