JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, visited Corn Piece in Clarendon on Monday (April 13), to observe the first deployment of a mobile testing unit for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • A total of six buses have been retrofitted for dispatch island-wide to enhance the Ministry’s capacity to test persons, who might be carrying the virus.
  • Dr. Tufton told the residents of the area, which is under quarantine, that the units are a good addition to the testing mechanism from which they already benefit.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, visited Corn Piece in Clarendon on Monday (April 13), to observe the first deployment of a mobile testing unit for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

A total of six buses have been retrofitted for dispatch island-wide to enhance the Ministry’s capacity to test persons, who might be carrying the virus.

Dr. Tufton told the residents of the area, which is under quarantine, that the units are a good addition to the testing mechanism from which they already benefit.

“The mobile units can go to areas where no hospital is located. It will also allow anybody, who wants to be tested to visit, to get the appropriate levels of counselling and to the extent that they meet the requirements based on the protocols, the samples will be collected,” he noted.

The samples will be sent to one of two designated laboratories in Kingston where tests will be done and persons contacted with their results.

The Health Minister said the counselling includes advice for persons to stay indoors until results are known, and to also remain in quarantine.

He noted that a negative test does not rid one of the responsibility to continue to exercise care and to observe the restrictions put in place by the Government.

Dr. Tufton told the residents that the health team is working with the relevant stakeholders on the ground to ensure that “all is going according to plan.”

He said he is comfortable, based on the reports from the medical team that tests are being done and citizens are cooperating.

“We have made progress in identifying the vulnerabilities in the community and when this is all over (you) will be better for it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for South East Clarendon, Pearnel Charles Jr. noted that the area has become the epicenter of COVID-19 with 20 per cent of all confirmed cases to date.

He acknowledged the support from government agencies and corporate Jamaica, which have provided food and other necessities to the residents.

He thanked the JWN Foundation, GraceKennedy, Progressive Grocers, First Rock, Confectionery Snacks and others for their contribution.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that the residents within the zone, comprising some 50 households, are supported, because for them to be able to abide by the precautions and stay in the zone, they need food, emotional support and the knowledge that someone cares,” he told JIS News.

Part of the visit, Mr. Charles Jr. said, was to assure the citizens that they would not be discriminated against or left alone, while noting that a bi-partisan approach is being taken to assist the residents and contain the virus.

On March 18, the community of Corn Piece recorded its first death resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and a day later the area was placed under quarantine.

The original two-week quarantine was extended for an additional two weeks beginning April 3.

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