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Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has announced that field hospitals have been activated to increase the number of beds available for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.
Dr. Tufton said the provision of more beds is critical, as the occupancy rate at hospitals for COVID-19 patients is increasing. The country recently reported an increase in the daily confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“In terms of the field hospital beds, we have activated our field hospitals. There are 40 beds at Spanish Town Hospital and 32 each at Falmouth and St. Joseph’s hospitals. Two other 40-bed facilities are to become available for a total of 716 COVID beds. So that is ultimately what we will put in place,” he said.
Dr. Tufton made the announcement during a virtual press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday (August 9).
He informed that up to yesterday (August 8), with respect to general occupancy, six hospitals were in the red alert zone, which means that these facilities currently have 84 per cent or greater bed occupancy, while four are in the amber alert zone with greater than 74 per cent of their beds currently being occupied.
As it relates to COVID-19 occupancy beds, he said that eight facilities are at over 84 per cent of their current bed capacity, placing them in the red alert zone. These hospitals include Cornwall Regional, Savanna-la-Mar, Port Antonio, St. Ann’s Bay, Mandeville Regional, University Hospital of the West Indies, Princess Margaret and Spanish Town.
“With the increase in COVID cases, there is a direct relationship between bed occupancy levels, which would increase. and we are seeing that occurring to the point where we classify the rate of increase and the current status as putting our COVID beds under high pressure,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said with beds being converted for coronavirus patients, fewer regular beds will be available. “What that means is that we will have to advise based on availability as to elective or non-emergency procedures, going through this phase.”
Additionally, Dr. Tufton informed that the geographic spread of the virus is now at a high level, noting that between 50 to 75 per cent of communities have active cases over the last two weeks.
The country’s reproductive rate is 1.3 while the positivity rate is 27.6 per cent. “We had gone down to just about seven per cent so we are moving in the wrong direction,” he said.