Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says that the western parishes of St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover are helping to drive the uptick in the cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
He noted that the positivity rate for the virus in the three parishes is higher than the national average.
“We have a national average of just under 10 per cent. In Westmoreland, there is a positivity rate of just under 30 per cent,” he lamented.
He noted that in Hanover the positivity rate is 17 per cent and in St. James it is in the region of 15 per cent.
“So the belt is a lot higher than the national average. In fact, you are helping to bring up the national average,” he said, while addressing a special meeting at the St. James Municipal Corporation on Wednesday (December 16).
St. James has recorded 1,256 confirmed cases of the virus, to date, with 121 active cases, and 21 persons have been admitted at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH). Forty-six residents have died from COVID-19 in the parish.
Dr. Tufton said that the spike in positive cases in St. James is concerning.
He said that with a 15 per cent positivity rate, it means that for every 100 persons there is chance that 15 of them are positive. “It means the multiplier effect can become a lot worse,” he noted.
He cautioned that if the virus continues to spread at an alarming rate, it will overwhelm the public health system in the parish.
“Then you really get into issues because people who may need hospital care may not be able to get it because you just don’t have the beds,” he pointed out.
Dr. Tufton is, therefore, imploring citizens to adhere to the health and safety protocols aimed at protecting them against contracting the virus.
These include wearing a mask while in public, maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other persons and practising frequent washing and sanitising of hands.
“Mask wearing is absolutely critical because for those who are positive, it keeps the virus with them, and for those who are not, it protects them from those who are positive, and that message has to be reinforced,” Dr. Tufton said.
In her remarks, Medical Officer of Health for St. James, Dr. Francine Phillips-Kelly, said that the St. James Health Services has ramped up activities in order to address the surge in cases of COVID-19.
She indicated that public health teams have been carrying out COVID-19 sensitisation activities and testing in communities and public spaces across the parish.
“We had some community interventions as a result of the positivity that we have been seeing in our parish. At the end of October, we would have done Cornwall Courts and Bogue village, and coming out of those interventions we haven’t seen a great positivity, but we continued to do our interventions,” she said.
“In most recent times… we were in other communities inclusive of Maroon Town. We have been in various public spaces [and] we did an intervention at the transport centre,” Dr. Phillips-Kelly informed.
Another public space intervention took place in Sam Sharpe Square recently where 100 Individuals were screened for COVID-19.