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  • Medical Officer of Health in St. Thomas, Dr. D’Oyen Smith, has lauded residents in St. Thomas for the critical role they played in helping to ensure that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the parish was brought under control.
  • According to Dr. Smith, a number of factors played a significant role in the parish’s COVID response, chief among them was the community’s response.
  • In the meantime, Dr. Smith is advising residents in quarantined communities that their cooperation is very vital.

Medical Officer of Health in St. Thomas, Dr. D’Oyen Smith, has lauded residents in St. Thomas for the critical role they played in helping to ensure that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the parish was brought under control.

The parish, which has seen some 400 cases since the pandemic hit Jamaica in March, experienced an outbreak in late July, but has since managed successfully to reduce the number of cases to a low of only four active cases at present.

According to Dr. Smith, a number of factors played a significant role in the parish’s COVID response, chief among them was the community’s response.

“One of the critical things was the community being involved, people giving us information as to where there were suspect cases, persons with symptoms, and that made a world of difference,” he said.

“There was a lot of community involvement in St. Thomas.  Persons actually were willing to call to say I know this person, which gave us the early information, and that made a big difference,” he added.

Dr. Smith, who was a guest on Thursday (November 5), at the Ministry of Health and Wellness weekly virtual COVID Conversations press conference, noted that the health team’s fast response in identifying the infected persons and having them quickly removed and isolated also factored significantly in the response.

“We’re fortunate enough to have the Marbella facility in which to isolate. We also did contact tracing and case identification very early, and that’s one of the things I have to commend the team for, because they were constantly going, day and night, getting persons recognised and treated, so that we could contain it,” he said.

Dr. Smith said teamwork was also critical, not only among the medical and health professionals but also among the different agencies, such as the Security Forces, the Parish Disaster Committee, the Social Development Commission and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

“The Jamaica Constabulary Force was really a big partner for us in establishing those quarantine areas along with the Jamaica Defence Force.  And in terms of getting the positives out of the community, which was supercritical, we needed the police to be there with us, because we went into areas that were not necessarily the easiest and most compliant and took out those individuals who have poor home conditions for isolation and had them in facilities,” he said.

Dr. Smith noted that the parish had the full support of the Health Minister and the full support of the Ministry. “So, we managed to do this not by ourselves but as a whole team, and the community members played a big role,” he said.

In the meantime, Dr. Smith is advising residents in quarantined communities that their cooperation is very vital.

“If you comply, then you will have the case reduction and the risk reduction. And that is really the major thing we have to do,” he emphasised.

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