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  • The Ministry of Health and Wellness is ramping up surveillance and testing as the country approaches the final stage of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is community transmission.
  • “We are now testing all severe, acute respiratory illnesses that are presenting to our hospitals,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie
  • She noted that, initially, “we were testing only those that came from sentinel hospitals, and over the last week, we have tested 36 of these persons from hospitals across the country with pneumonia, severe respiratory infections and they have all been negative”.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is ramping up surveillance and testing as the country approaches the final stage of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is community transmission.

“We are now testing all severe, acute respiratory illnesses that are presenting to our hospitals,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie

She noted that, initially, “we were testing only those that came from sentinel hospitals, and over the last week, we have tested 36 of these persons from hospitals across the country with pneumonia, severe respiratory infections and they have all been negative”.

“We are now going on to increase that testing to all hospitals that have persons with severe acute respiratory infections who do not have a link to any imported cases,” she pointed out.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie was speaking at a press conference at Jamaica House on Monday (March 23).

Community transmission is the final of the four phases of spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The other three phases are having no cases, having sporadic cases that may be imported, and having a cluster of cases with a larger number of persons linked to imported cases.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie explained that community transmission “is when you are now identifying within the community persons that you cannot link to an imported case or contact with an imported case”.

She noted that 316 beds have been identified at hospitals to accommodate patients.

“We have our COVID wards, to which we are preparing to admit persons who would need hospitalisation,” she said.

“We also are in a process of preparation of critical care bed spaces. For this, we have started our preparation in terms of procuring additional high-dependency unit beds, additional ventilators, additional suction machines, infusion pumps – all the paraphernalia that comes into high-dependency care. Some of these equipment have already been put in place,” she noted further.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie is imploring citizens to continue to take precautionary measures to protect themselves from becoming infected.

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