MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton is warning Jamaicans to brace for a spike in the number of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
The island has now recorded 252 cases of the disease and health departments across the island are tracking more than 1,400 close contacts of these confirmed cases.
“And that number (1,409) is a moving target, and it increases each hour, depending on the information and depending on the next confirmed case. And, again, I think it is important that the public understands and appreciates that, because their input, their participation is so important,” said Tufton.
The health minister made the appeal yesterday as he confirmed that the number of positive COVID-19 cases has been increasing by double digits each day in recent times.
The island recorded 19 new cases in the 24 hours ending yesterday evening, with one result still outstanding.
“Nine of these we just received information on, and we will provide additional information [later] in terms of males and females. The other 10 we received earlier today. Of that 10 two are males, eight are females, with ages ranging from 20 years to 50 years.
“Seven [of the 10] are associated with the workplace cluster [Alorica], two cases are contacts of confirmed cases, and one is under investigation,” said Tufton.
He noted that there are now 131 confirmed cases related to Alorica which had over 700 employees at the time the first case was confirmed there.
Tufton also pointed out that the vast majority of confirmed cases from Alorica are females, with most living in St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew.
“There are now 34 imported cases, 53 contacts of a confirmed case, eight that are local transmission with no epidemiological link, and 148 that are under investigation,” said Tufton as he pointed out that 2,125 samples have been tested and Jamaica now has the capacity to increase the number of tests it does daily with the commissioning of a COBAS 6800 machine, which can test 380 samples each eight-hour cycle.
“We should see quite a few hundreds samples tested over the next 24 hours, which could, or may adjust the numbers of positive tests,” warned Tufton.
“As we move into the phase of community transmission it is going to require more from the public… to control the COVID-19 public health threat,” added Tufton as he urged Jamaicans to follow the guidelines which have been announced.
The health minister argued that Jamaica has done well in managing the COVID-19 crisis to date to minimise imported cases and delaying the community transmission of the virus but cannot drop its guard.
“We want the Jamaican people to start adjusting their minds to what community transmission and what community spread is, what the implications are for them, for us in public health; what their roles need to be, and what are the adjustments that are going to be necessary when we declare that we are now in community spread,” said Tufton.
He warned, too, that Jamaica will have to come to the reality of hospitalisation versus home care when the virus begins to get widespread, as the modelling shows that of the many Jamaicans who will get COVID-19, the majority will not need hospital care.
“The question is what does it mean for you to have COVID-19 and to be told to stay home until you get better. The dynamics of that are important to appreciate and understand,” argued Tufton as he again urged Jamaicans to “tan a u yard”.
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