The Ministry of Health and Wellness says the decision to relocate individuals contracting the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) from households to a government quarantine or isolation facility is based on discussions with and agreement by the parties, and not forced action.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the Agency’s head office in Kingston on June 25, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said she is aware that persons experiencing symptoms similar to those characterising COVID-19 may be apprehensive about declaring this, out of fear of being forcibly removed from their homes.
“Removal from the household is usually an agreement reached with the relevant parties following a discussion. We don’t normally just take a decision,” she said. The CMO pointed out that when the Ministry initiated measures to manage the outbreak, “our aim was to keep the infected persons away from everybody else”.
“As you get more and more cases, however, it is difficult to manage an outbreak like that and you have to look at all the other factors. So we have pretty much moved to a position where we are quarantining and isolating persons at home, if the conditions allow for it” she explained.
According to Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie, Ministry personnel have encountered infected persons indicating a preference to be placed in an isolation facility, citing inadequate accommodations at home to enable this arrangement.
“We have had persons [who] have come in at the airport [who] would have been identified as [potentially] high risk [cases], based on the communities [where they reside]; and some have said to us that it makes no sense to try to quarantine them there, and that they need to be placed elsewhere” she informed.
The CMO said this has resulted in careful consideration regarding how and where quarantine and isolation is done, while effectively and efficiently using the available resources.
“We normally do an inspection of the home to see if the conditions are okay. We also do an assessment of the family members, [particularly] if there are small children, and we look at the amount of traffic through the house. Those things along with the physical infrastructure help us to determine if optimal quarantine or isolation conditions can be achieved at home” she outlined.
Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie highlighted situations where the home may not have been ideal, particularly with more than one person being in the house, and the necessary arrangements were put in place to facilitate the person.
“A discussion always takes place. When we have to move somebody out, it is usually out of necessity and involves some amount of agreement between persons” Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie stated, adding that, to date, the Ministry has had no reason to forcibly place anyone in quarantine or isolation.