Re: Update on COVID-19 and the move towards Vaccine Deployment

Madam Speaker, since March of 2020, Jamaica has been on a long sojourn through many aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. We started with our first case, our walk through the tumultuous period of the spike in August and our ultimate declaration of community
transmission in September. We have had to also strengthen our efforts to curtail the spread of infection and the many challenges related to the balancing of the public health prerequisites and the socio-economic imperatives of everyday life.

In Country Status
Today Madam Speaker, I can report that as at January 11, 2021, Jamaica has recorded 13,760 cases, 123 being reported in the 24 hours. We have also recorded, with sadness, the passing of 315 persons, with two of these deaths being recorded in the 24 hours.

The country, Madam Speaker, continues to face the threat of COVID-19 and we continue to see spread of the virus within the population.

The results of our efforts at curtailing the spread of the virus especially over the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations is still being assessed.

We still continue our rigorous surveillance of communities and special settings such as homes for the elderly and infirmaries, to ensure early detection and mitigation.

The Government is still seized with the realities of hospital management and continues to use every measure within our tool box to ensure that our health system does not become overwhelmed.

While we are still in the midst of the pandemic, indications are pointing to some success in the management of the spread of the disease and its impact on the health system. We have, through the strong support of the healthcare workers on the ground, not seen the buckling of the health system under the pressures of COVID-19. We have also maintained, over time, infection rates below 2.5 per 100,000 as well as positivity rates of between 8 and 10%.

When compared with international benchmarks, Jamaica can be said to be one of the countries that have been able to manage well the risks that are associated with the pandemic.

Review of Interventions in Westmoreland

Madam Speaker, last month we highlighted the risks associated with cases in Westmoreland.

Based on our assessment, it was determined that State interventions were necessary to curtail the spread of the virus in the parish.

Today, I can report that the interventions have resulted in the reduction in reported cases to 51 active cases as at January 11, 2021. The
total occupancy at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital is now 56% for isolation, a significant reduction from the above 80% isolation occupancy reported in December.

As such the Ministry of Health and Wellness has indicated to the Cabinet that we will not require an extension of the special restrictions for that parish beyond the current time period.

We thank the citizens of the parish especially their elected officials, for their support and cooperation and advise that only through your maintenance of the protocols can we maintain and further reduce the spread of the disease.


Concern for St. Ann and Manchester

Madam Speaker, there are however worrying signs on the horizon. As part of our proactive approach, we have always looked at the numbers, work through the science, and implemented remedial actions when required. Based on our current assessments, the Parishes of St. Ann and Manchester are showing signs of uncontrolled spread.

As at January 11, 2021, St Ann has 75 active cases while Manchester has 68 active cases. When assessed by population, St. Ann has 35 per 100,000 while Manchester has 43 per 100,000. This is the first and second highest rates in the island.

The Heath Departments in those parishes have already began to ramp up prevention activities with testing and contact tracing, especially for the vulnerable population.

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