Mr. Speaker, I rise to update this Honourable House and the people of Jamaica on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mr. Speaker, as of Thursday, March 12:
- 296 persons have arrived in the island from countries of interest to Jamaica. Of that number, 65 have been refused landing and returned to their destination.
- 39 persons are in quarantine at a government facility and 8 in home quarantine.
- 12 persons are in isolation, including two persons who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Samples have been taken from the other persons in isolation. We await the results and will advise the country accordingly.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry has also begun in earnest its contact tracing to track members of the public who would have been in contact with the two persons.
Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 remains a clear and present danger and we now have a COVID-19 Comprehensive Response Plan, which has received the approval of the Prime Minister Andrew Holness-led National Disaster Risk Management Council.
This plan, which is to cost us, just under two billion dollars, is to:
- Guide the direction, coordination and management of the health response.
- Support emergency response agencies in the implementation of the national plan.
- Monitor and evaluate key actions in public health to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency in achieving the stated strategic goals of the Government to delay, detect, contain, manage and communicate for COVID-19.
- As well as to mobilise the needed resources to ensure the comprehensive implementation of key actions needed to realise the goals of the plan.
On the readiness of the island’s health system, the Ministry has:
- Developed the local capacity to test for the virus, thanks to training provided by the Pan-American Health Organization. It is on that capacity that we relied for this test result.
- Assessed the readiness of our health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services.
- Continue to address existing gaps, including with respect of additional supplies and equipment, though, at the present time, we have enough personal protective equipment in the island for our health facilities. We also have adequate stores of respiratory medicine for the next three months.
- Trained and continue to train health care providers.
Additionally, we have actioned the following:
- Coordination, including collaboration across government and with other key stakeholders.
- Surveillance, including the imposition of travel restrictions on now five countries.
- Case management, including treatment.
- Monitoring of supplies.
- Laboratory response, including the training to enable local capacity for testing for the virus.
- Sensitisation of health care workers.
- Public education.
I wish to issue a special appeal to persons, who have been contact with persons, who may have been in contact with the two persons to make contact with the Ministry of Health & Wellness.
In addition to the 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) announced recently, we have added the following numbers:
- 876-542- 6006
The Ministry is working to add more lines and other points of contact for members of the public to share their concerns relating to COVID-19.
Mr. Speaker, let me again appeal to members of the public to remain calm and to continue to support us in our efforts to overcome this public health challenges.