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The Ministry of Health and Wellness will be recruiting 120 newly trained medical officers to fill gaps created within the public health system by the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other challenges.

Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, made the disclosure during a virtual press conference at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston on Sunday (August 23).

Dr. Tufton noted that the recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths has placed additional pressure on the health system.

He indicated that his Ministry and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service discussed the possible recruitment of additional staff, adding that the latter “did agree to allow those [120 new medical officers] to be taken up”.

“I am happy to announce that that process has moved along now to the extent that we are in a position to engage these persons over the next week,” Dr. Tufton further informed.

The Minister said this will facilitate the deployment of additional personnel islandwide to assist in strengthening the response to COVID-19 and other medical issues.

Additionally, Dr. Tufton said 700 of the 1,000 community health aides brought on board have been deployed, pointing out that this will bolster the capacity in relation to contact tracing, which he reiterated, is a key component of the COVID-19 response.

Jamaica recorded its highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for a day, 116, on Sunday (August 23), which pushed the total to 1,529.

The new cases comprise 68 females and 48 males, with ages ranging from 17 to 85 years.

These were recorded in Kingston and St. Andrew – 51, St. Thomas – 10, St. Catherine – 37, Clarendon – seven, St. Elizabeth – one, Hanover – one, St. Ann – two, St Mary – two, Manchester – four, and Westmoreland – one.

Five are contacts of confirmed cases, one was imported from the United Kingdom, while 110 are under investigation.

Two additional persons have recovered and were released from care to push the number to 819, while 71 per cent of patients were repatriated to countries of origin.

The number of active cases now under observation totals 622 (40.7 per cent), while there are four moderately ill patients and four diagnosed as critically ill.

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