Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton, says the Government is taking the necessary steps to contain “community spread” of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), following two confirmed cases via local transmission, early today (March 13).
Jamaica now has eight confirmed cases of the virus, with six of those cases being imported.
“We anticipate that community spread is evitable, given the number of imported cases, and so we have developed a programme to deal with that, including restriction on public gatherings, suspension of schools for the next couple of weeks, and travel restrictions on some countries. All of those are intended to try and minimise [the spread], and if you look at other countries, that’s what they are doing,” he said.
Dr. Tufton was speaking at a meeting with stakeholders in western Jamaica, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on Friday (March 13).
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton said a Comprehensive Response Plan has been instituted to cater to vulnerable individuals who will experience severe acute respiratory infection, requiring hospital care from contracting COVID-19.
He assured the public that Government will be increasing bedding capacity at intensive care units (ICUs) and additional ventilators are being procured.
“The public health system has a plan that we are working on to deal with those who will eventually end up in hospital and those who will have to be placed in high-dependency or intensive care, because we anticipate that a number of persons will end up at that level,” Dr. Tufton said.
He reminded the public that “the virus is not a death sentence” and appealed for calm, noting that significant budgetary provisions have been made to deal with COVID-19.
“We want to emphasise that while we expect people to be concerned; we don’t want them to panic. The number will show that the vast majority of persons who will get the virus will survive. It will run a course, then it will plateau. It is not a death sentence but there are some groups that are more vulnerable than others,” the Minister noted.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include acute onset of fever and flu-like symptoms, including coughing and sneezing, as well as breathing difficulties.