With the country now in the community transmission phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Health and Wellness has increased its public education activities, to impress upon Jamaicans the importance of adhering to the established safety protocols to control its spread.
The Ministry’s team of Community Health Aides has been engaging with citizens across the island to distribute masks, sanitisers and educational materials on safety measures to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19 virus.
To date, approximately 1,000 Community Health Aides have been assigned to the Ministry, with another 300 or 400 to be trained.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, has called on members of the public to heed the warnings of health officials, and reiterated the importance of individual practice of the established safety protocols to minimise transmission of the virus.
“The team is again highlighting the message of wearing masks in public, sanitising and practising the six feet social distancing. It is something that we have been embarking on over the last few weeks. It is a standard feature of the work of the Community Health Aides. They are the COVID-19 response representatives on the ground to spread the message, particularly at this time when we are having community transmission,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Minister was speaking to journalists during a mask distribution exercise at Parade in downtown Kingston on September 28.
For her part, Senior Public Health Nurse, Kingston and St. Andrew Health Department, Charmaine Vassel Shettlewood, who heads the team of Community Health Aides, said they have been engaging citizens in town centres across the island.
Among the areas visited are Lawrence Tavern, Stony Hill, Golden Spring, Essex Hall, Constant Spring, Half-Way Tree, Cross Roads and downtown Kingston.
The Senior Public Health Nurse urged Jamaicans to do their part to reduce transmission of the virus.
“We have been teaching people how to put on and take off the mask, how to discard it and the proper way to sanitise hands. We have also been educating persons on social distancing, and if you are ill, stay at home,” she advised.
Community Health Aide, Careen Massias, told JIS News that although some persons have not been following the safety protocols, they are receptive to the message.
“We want members of the public to be cautious and know that this is a serious disease and we want them to protect themselves. Most persons are following the protocols,” she said.
Christine Peck, who is also a Community Health Aide, said although her role as a front-line worker carries some risk, she feels a sense of fulfilment in assisting in the fight against COVID-19.
“It is risky, but I enjoy the experience and I feel like I am contributing. There are still persons willing to learn as we educate them,” she said.
Members of the public are being reminded to wear a mask in public spaces, regularly wash and sanitise hands and surfaces, as well as to maintain a distance of six feet from other persons.