Health Ministry Prepared For 4th Wave

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is reporting that measures are in place to strengthen the response capabilities of the public health system, as the island experiences its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.

“As predicted, the fourth wave of the pandemic is here. The evidence is in the increase in cases over the last two weeks. More COVID-19 infections invariably mean more hospitalisations, which will put pressure on the public health system and the public health team,” highlighted Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, speaking Thursday (January 6) at the first COVID-19 Conversation and press conference for 2022.

“We have put measures in place, but do also want to caution Jamaicans not to grow complacent at this time of vulnerability. Along with the infection prevention and control measures, we continue to champion vaccination as critical to the success of our COVID-19 response,” Dr. Tufton added.

To receive a COVID-19 vaccine, members of the public may visit the more than 250 access points across the island. At the same time, persons are being reminded that booster doses are on offer at permanent vaccination sites.

  

Members of the public, in particular the elderly, and people living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes and hypertension, are encouraged to get their booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccines to help to prevent severe illness and death. Persons who are immunocompromised should also receive an additional dose of the vaccines.

Testing kits and additional measures

Along with its vaccination programme, the Ministry is making available self-test kits as an important tool to help contain the pandemic. As part of these efforts, the Ministry has donated 5,000 home self-test kits to the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association for tourism workers, and 5,000 home self-test kits to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. In addition, plans are afoot to certify additional laboratories to offer testing for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has been given assurances by its main supplier of medical oxygen that it can support a surge capacity of up to 1,200 patients in COVID-19 beds. At the same time, the Ministry intends to diversify the supply of oxygen, including through public-private partnerships.

Temporary staff employed to support the operations of local health facilities and the National Vaccination Programme have had their contracts extended to March this year. The island’s bed capacity for COVID-19 patients is also set to increase with the final of eight (8) field hospitals to be completed this month at the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital.

This will move the country’s bed count for COVID-19 to some 745 islandwide. The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to urge Jamaicans to remain vigilant in their practice of the infection and prevention protocols, notably, handwashing or sanitizing, mask-wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowds.

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