JIS News

The St. Thomas Health Services is appealing to residents to be more vigilant in observing COVID-19 protocols, as there are still active cases of the disease in the parish. In an interview with JIS News,

Medical Officer of Health (MOH) for St. Thomas, Dr. D’Oyen Smith, said that residents seem to have become complacent and are not strictly following the guidelines to protect themselves and others from becoming infected.

“We’re trying to do more health education to make people aware of their true vulnerability,” he said.

“I think that’s one of the challenges. Because St. Thomas has always had a lower number of cases than other locations, people have this false sense of security, so we’re working on doing more health promotion and empowering people to do the correct activities in terms of the Disaster Risk Management Act and to protect themselves and their families. So our health promotions are key for us,” he added.

Dr. Smith said given the risk profile of the parish, the recommendation is to adhere to the public health measures, “which means we wear our masks whenever we are out in public”.

“If we are having symptoms, we get assessed very quickly, so that there can be a determination if you’re positive or not,” he advised.

Dr. Smith pointed out that the public health system will do what it has to do to protect the general populace, but individuals must take personal responsibility.

He made reference to underground parties that have been taking place in the parish, and is appealing to the partygoers to stop.

“These parties are occurring late at night and are held at undisclosed locations to beat the system,” Dr. Smith said.

“In public spaces, particularly Morant Bay and town centres, Yallahs and Seaforth, we need to be wearing our masks and that’s what I’m encouraging persons to do,” he added.

Dr. Smith argued that persons not wearing their masks are creating a high level of exposure.

“If you pass through Morant Bay, you’ll find a number of persons without masks,” he lamented.

Dr. Smith said his team is looking at their clinical management in terms of identifying cases very early from the community and having them properly isolated, whether at home or in a facility.

He said that it is also important to quarantine persons who would have been exposed, so that they do not infect others, should they become positive.

Dr. Smith said his team has been working with the clinical management members at the Princess Margaret Hospital, with health centres in the parish as well as with the teams going into the field wherever there are positive cases, to identify contacts and to do sensitisation of those communities.

He pointed out that the parish has a challenge with chronic illnesses, based on its economic background.

“A number of persons don’t have the wherewithal to provide the right type of diet and the necessary facilities for exercise, so you find that with poor nutrition, lack of exercise and the social downturn, this facilitated a number of individuals having unhealthy eating practices. Obesity is increasing and chronic diseases overall are on the rise,” he warned.

Up to Friday, February 26, St. Thomas had seen 750 positive cases of COVID-19 with 108 active cases, which the MOH explained, placed the parish at number 10 on the islandwide list.

While he acknowledged that this was not too bad, he said it is far more than what his team would want. “It is something that we have to continuously work at,” he said.

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