The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) yesterday confirmed that a cancer patient who was flown into Jamaica from the Turks and Caicos Islands last week for treatment tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement confirming an OBSERVER ONLINE story yesterday, the UHWI said the patient, who was originally being treated at the hospital for “bleeding gastric cancer” on March 16, was released and returned home to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) on March 26, 2020.
It said the patient had an emergency reoperation in the TCI and a request was made for advanced critical care, a service usually provided for all the hospital’s contributing territories.
The hospital added that the critical nature of the patient’s condition was discussed with the Emergency Operation Centre of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ministry of National Security, and the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority.
“On returning to Jamaica on April 16, 2020, the team from the UHWI who received the patient at the airport was in full personal protective equipment.
“The patient was already intubated and had a viral filtration system. Based on the UHWI’s screening form, at no time was the patient considered to be a COVID-19 patient, but out of an abundance of caution the UHWI decided to test the patient.
“The result is positive and the patient remains stable in the COVID-19 ICU. All staff evaluation, assignment and quarantine have been done according to the hospital’s protocol,” the statement read.
Yesterday, the OBSERVER ONLINE reported that the hospital’s head of surgery had been placed in quarantine after reportedly coming in contact with the patient.
Highly placed sources at the hospital had confirmed the information, stating that doctors were initially told that the patient had tested negative for COVID-19.
“Yes, the information is true,” one of the sources, who asked not to be identified, said.
Patients scheduled to undergo major surgery in Turks and Caicos are usually flown to Jamaica, The Bahamas or the United States.
When contacted, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher said, although the situation was unfortunate, these things can happen.
He said while preventative measures to limit frontline workers’ exposure to the virus are in place, if exposed, the protocol is to first self-quarantine.
Last month, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the closure of the country’s borders to incoming passengers.
On April 4, Holness announced an extension of the travel restriction by a further 14 days to limit the spread of the deadly COVID-19 in the country. At that time, he indicated that exemptions could be made.
The travel restriction first took effect on March 24. Yesterday, the UHWI asked that the public respect the privacy and confidentiality of the patient.
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