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    Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, is urging operators of private nursing homes to comply with Government-established protocols and safeguards to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in their facilities.

    He said failure to implement and adhere to the measures will result in the closure of the establishments.

    “I want to issue a [word of] caution [and] warning to operators of nursing homes… put the [safeguards] in place, because you’re putting your livelihood… and the lives of residents and your staff at risk by ignoring these very important protocols,” the Minister emphasised.

    He was speaking during a digital press conference on October 22, where he provided an update on the status of nursing homes that were inspected in sections of St. Catherine as part of the national COVID-19 response.

    Dr. Tufton said health teams visited 11 of 33 nursing homes in Waterford, St Catherine, during the period of the special quarantine in the community.

    He indicated that there were three active cases at two of these establishments at the start of the community COVID-19 surveillance.

    The Minister said this prompted the decision to conduct testing at nursing homes in the communities of Bridgeport, Independence City, Gregory Park, as well as Waterford, in the parish.

    He informed that 39 staff and 187 residents were tested, with the results received, thus far, being negative.

    Dr. Tufton added that all except one of the homes were adjudged as satisfactory by the public health inspectorate.

    “There are a number of these facilities that are not up to par, in terms of the infection prevention control measures.

    Our public health officers continue to monitor [and] to engage, and where necessary, we will take action because we do have the authority to shut these facilities down,” the Minister stated.

    While acknowledging the degree of displacement that could result from the closure of nursing homes, Dr. Tufton maintained that “if the situation is intolerable and the residents are at risk, then we will have no option but so to do and find alternative arrangements”.

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