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Hospitals capable to manage possible COVID upsurge says Tufton

Hospitals capable to manage possible COVID upsurge says Tufton

Posted  73 Views updated 5 months ago

With news of the Omicron BA.2 variant being detected in Jamaica, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says he is confident that the public health system would be able to manage in the event of a spike in cases and hospitalisations.

The health ministry confirmed the presence of the variant yesterday.

It indicated that 89 samples collected between January 1 to March 4 were submitted for gene sequencing with the result showing 98.9% were Omicron variants and 1.1 % Delta variant.

Of the Omicron samples, two of 88 or 2.3% were BA.2 variant and 97.7% were BA.1 variant.

The variant is highly transmissible and as a result, there may be an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, Chief medical officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie noted.

"I certainly believe that we can manage clinically if there were another upsurge. There are a lot of adjustments to how we are measuring the risks...if it were to get worse, we believe we could cope. The experience of the last three surges makes us a lot more capable to deal with any future surge," Tufton told The Gleaner following his address at a forum on risk communication at the Northern Caribbean University in Manchester on Thursday.

Tufton said there are currently approximately 15 COVID-positive patients in hospitals, with approximately 750 beds across the island, and a stronger natural or aided immunity among the population. 

The health minister said there continues to be an improvement in the system and made special mention of the availability of adequate oxygen and ventilation. 

Tufton acknowledged the dangers of complacency, with the full impact of new COVID-19 strains still unknown. 

He again called for increased vaccination takeup, noting that about 24-25 percent of the population is inoculated, which he said is far from sufficient. 

"The messaging around vaccines has to continue. It has been a real challenge, we have vaccines but people are not taking them."

As citizens continue to enjoy the abolition of the Disaster Risk Management Act, all while others question if it was a hasty a decision by the government, Tufton said the restrictions could not have continued forever and there are provisions from that law that can still be imposed under other pieces of legislation. 

"The mask-wearing and travel restriction that have been lifted do pose potential risks, but so have been all the decisions taken around relaxation in an attempt to balance the need for livelihood and lives to coexist." 

Tufton said the Public Health Act and the Quarantine Act give the government the right to impose the sanctions necessary to ensure crisis management in the ongoing pandemic. 


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