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Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says with more than 700 beds occupied in public hospitals by coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, the priority is to save lives.

Speaking with reporters at the National Health Fund (NHF) Marcus Garvey facility in St. Andrew on Tuesday (January 18), the Minister said persons with chronic illnesses have also brought added stress on the system, coupled with high absenteeism among health workers.

“When you have those circumstances, the response has to be prioritised, and you prioritise based on what are the critical cases – you don’t admit people unless it is life and death, and we will continue to do that, but where you have electives, people will have to wait, so expect some delays,” the Minister said.

The Ministry has indicated that effective Wednesday (January 19, 2022), Jamaica’s public hospitals will be restricted to conducting emergency care services only.

Dr. Tufton is urging persons wishing to be seen at the hospitals to exercise patience, as “we are doing the best that we can, and we are going to be under this stress for the next couple of weeks”.

Minister Tufton further added that it needs to be recognised by all that while the public personnel is doing what it can to protect the population, the public must accept its role in ensuring that the virus is under control.

“I hope that the populace will be sensitive to the realities – we are sensitive to their concerns, but at the same time, there is responsibility, which is required, that helps to protect them. We are all vulnerable, and we are trying to build consensus around response and responsibility by all who are involved in the process,” he said.

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