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  • Additional ventilators for treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are slated to arrive in the island this week, to bring the number in the public health system to 80.
  • This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during a digital press conference at Jamaica House on Friday (April 3).
  • He also indicated that another 25 ventilators are expected by May 1, which will further boost the number to over 105.

Additional ventilators for treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients are slated to arrive in the island this week, to bring the number in the public health system to 80.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, during a digital press conference at Jamaica House on Friday (April 3).

He also indicated that another 25 ventilators are expected by May 1, which will further boost the number to over 105.

The additional machines are being sourced as the Government continues to build its capacity to treat Jamaicans who become infected with COVID-19, of which there are now 55 confirmed cases.

Mr. Holness indicated that a number of the ventilators, along with other medical equipment, are being obtained through donations from international partners, to whom he expressed gratitude.

“It is very important that we acknowledge the assistance that we have been given by our international friends (and) partners. Even in a time of crisis, the goodwill for Jamaica is still strong. I use this opportunity to thank all of those who have reached out to us and assisted,” he said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, who outlined some of the aid committed by international partners, informed that 29 of the ventilators are being provided through support from the European Union (EU).

“The EU is not only providing these 29 ventilators, which include transport ventilators [and] the priority Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ventilators, but they are also exploring how to pull together additional funding to support priority needs which may include ventilators or other related equipment, if we don’t procure them through other means,” she said.

Additionally, Mrs. Johnson Smith informed that the Republic of South Korea, through the Korea East-West Power Company, will be providing test kits that can adequately test 7,500 persons.

She said these are slated to be shipped on April 8 and arrive within seven days, “all things remaining equal”, as it relates to potential challenges relating to logistics and global shipping.

“They are also providing supporting equipment which will allow for [among other things] training for technical personnel,” the Minister added.

She also indicated that another batch of testing kits that can test 2,000 persons, will be provided by the International Atomic Agency.

This is in conjunction with support from the United States and Canada, which provided COVID emergency funding to the Agency.

“We are also receiving an initial shipment from the Government of the People’s Republic of China which includes N95 masks, disposable protective clothing, infrared thermometers, protective goggles, disposable surgical gloves, and medical isolation shoe covers,” Mrs. Johnson Smith said.

She further indicated that support is also being provided to Jamaica by private sector companies in China.

Their gesture includes the provision of 60,000 masks, gloves, eye protectors, additional protective suits and test kits for 3,000 persons.

Jamaica is also slated to receive 10,000 masks from the Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, “which we will be sending by diplomatic bag, so that they will get here a bit more quickly” the Minister pointed out.

Mrs. Johnson Smith said it is anticipated that other donations will come through the United Nations (UN), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and other agencies, adding that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is already working with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, to this end.

She noted that these donations are being facilitated through an inter-Ministerial mechanism – the External Support Coordination Committee.

Key to the process, the Minister added, has been the provision of a priority needs list by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which was then conveyed to external partners.

“This has allowed us to align resources as we move along and try to coordinate how best to ensure we get donations, where possible, to fill needs, versus procurement, to also ensure that we are moving with time and capacity as needed,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith indicated that the Committee will also support the implementation of the US$700,000 ($95 million) donation by the Government of the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which will be channeled into the national COVID-19 response.

She explained that the Committee aims to ensure coherence in the engagement with external partners, as also communication between the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

Further, the Minister said, the Committee is focused on ensuring that offers of assistance meet Jamaica’s priority needs at this time, that gaps are covered, and that methods of accountability and transparency are devised relating to assistance during the crisis.

The Committee comprises the Ministries of: Health and Wellness; Finance and the Public Service; Education Youth and Information; Labour and Social Security; Transport and Mining; and Local Government and Community Development.

Also involved are key agencies, including: the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), National Health Fund (NHF), and the Health for Life and Wellness Foundation in the Health Ministry.

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