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  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is appealing for private property owners to come forward as the Government seeks appropriate space to accommodate persons who are in isolation, quarantine or recovering from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • The Government is seeking 600 rooms across the four health regions to be used as transitional houses for such persons.
  • Speaking at a digital press conference at his New Kingston offices on March 25, Dr. Tufton said that while several offers have been proffered, in many cases, the properties are not suitable.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is appealing for private property owners to come forward as the Government seeks appropriate space to accommodate persons who are in isolation, quarantine or recovering from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Government is seeking 600 rooms across the four health regions to be used as transitional houses for such persons.

Speaking at a digital press conference at his New Kingston offices on March 25, Dr. Tufton said that while several offers have been proffered, in many cases, the properties are not suitable.

“Either they are too small or in some instances, the costs are prohibitive or high based on the private providers’ requirements. So the search continues,” he said.

He said that if property owners are unwilling to come forward, the State could trigger relevant legislation to take possession of the properties.

“We are going to have to, hopefully, collaborate and get the willingness of those players to work with us in the public’s interest and in the interest of all of us. At the very last resort, if we are not getting that cooperation, there is always the possibility of triggering the law under the emergency powers that exist under these conditions in the national interest,” he pointed out.

Dr. Tufton said that this is not the route that the Government wants to take.

“That’s not what we would like to do, and there would have to be fair exchange in terms of market value if it were to come to that. But at the end of the day, we have to find the right blend and the right mix in order to deal with the cases that are likely to come from community spread,” he noted.

Owners of hotels with available rooms or those that are no longer being used, are encouraged to engage in discussions with the Government regarding the availability of the rooms that will be needed for recovering patients, who have to be monitored for up to 30 days.

The South East Regional Health Authority (Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas), and the Southern Regional Health Authority (Manchester, Clarendon and St. Elizabeth), each require 200 rooms with bathrooms, while 100 rooms each are needed in the Western Regional Health Authority (Hanover, St. James, Westmoreland and Trelawny) and in the Northeast Regional Health Authority (St. Ann, Portland and St. Mary).

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