Despite the recent spike in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is assuring the nation that Jamaica is not losing the fight against the disease.
“The truth is we always strive to overcome challenges and we are resilient as a people and we always overcome. In this instance, [the Government is] committed to doing what is necessary to protect the Jamaican people,” he said during a digital press conference at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston, on Sunday (August 23).
Dr. Tufton contended that the Government’s response to the pandemic is not demonstrative of it is losing the battle or control, while recounting that the Administration had indicated the likelihood of a potential spike in COVID-19 cases with the relaxation of restrictions.
“We were very clear… by saying that we were shifting to a phase where it wasn’t about preventing COVID so much as it was now living with COVID, because the risk profile of allowing greater freedom of movement, both in-country as well as persons going out and coming in, between countries… would automatically increase. So, frankly speaking, we expected more positives and I would say, expect more positives under this new arrangement,” he added.
The Minister emphasised the importance of managing the virus whereby the Government has shifted resources from the airports to health centres and from institutional quarantining to home quarantine.
He further noted that the Government increased the number of health aides by a 1,000 to boost surveillance and conduct tracing efforts, adding that this has served to adequately detect cases.
“The challenge… is that too many [persons] are not complying with the protocols. We would still have had to do a lot of the contact tracing, but the risk would be a lot less if Jamaicans observe the protocols around mask-wearing around quarantining; [then] we would not have had this level of spike if you will,” Dr. Tufton
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, pointed out that, over time, Jamaicans should expect to see the number of positive COVID-19 cases rising, particularly in light of the relaxation of a number of restrictions, including the opening of the country’s borders.
“It is either that we are going to reach to a point where this virus burns itself out, as happened with SARS, or it is going to become endemic, eventually, and we have to learn to live with this,” she said.
More importantly, Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said, is managing patients diagnosed as moderately or severely ill, and the manner in which the numbers of these individuals are reduced as also the extent to which there is a reduction in persons getting to these stages as well as “how it is that we prevent deaths”.