JIS News

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says investigations are under way into the cluster of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases at the Vineyard Town Golden Age Home in Kingston.

“We are concerned because it is clear that some of the protocols that were put in place were not observed, and that is why we are where we are today,” Minister McKenzie said.

He was addressing a joint digital press conference with Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, on Wednesday (October 21), to outline measures to contain the spread of the virus at the Vineyard Town facility, which houses the vulnerable older population.

This follows the discovery of a cluster of cases at the facility by the Health and Wellness Ministry during its ongoing islandwide surveillance of senior citizens’ homes and infirmaries.

Up to Tuesday (October 20), 43 residents and three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 from 72 samples taken. The cases are confined to one section of the facility.

The testing of all 428 residents and 162 staff members is expected to be completed in the next two to three days.
Minister McKenzie said that before the uncovering of the Vineyard Town cluster, the protocols that were

implemented by the Government had been working effectively, as there were only five cases in the 14 infirmaries across the island – two each in St. Thomas and Hanover and one in St. Elizabeth.

He noted that only one of those five patients is still in the hospital.

“So it is clear that the protocols that we have put in since March have worked, but there was some slippage at Vineyard Town and we are very concerned about it,” he stressed.

In the meantime, Mr. McKenzie is urging all members of staff of infirmaries who have not yet been tested, to make themselves available.

“We are now putting on high alert all the infirmaries across the country, and we have already issued strict instructions as to the guidelines that were in force before. We are now going to be re-enforcing it and strengthening those guidelines working closely with the Ministry of Health,” he said.

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