Portland Cottage on radar

Portland Cottage on radar

50 people in Clarendon community being monitored; 6 from Cornpiece test positive

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
Senior staff reporter
dunkleywillisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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WITH six new cases of the COVID-19 disease now confirmed in the community of Cornpiece in Clarendon, health officials say the community of Portland Cottage, also in the parish, is now on their radar.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, addressing a digital press briefing from the ministry's Corporate Area base yesterday, said even as the Cornpiece settlement remains under quarantine the ministry was monitoring 50 householders in the Portland Cottage area of Clarendon.

“There is a little concern related to that area. We may have to take some decisions as it relates to that area, but not right now. A team is assessing that. Two hundred and seventy-nine persons have been interviewed and an additional seven persons have been placed into isolation,” Dr Tufton told the briefing.

In the meantime, he said of the 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Jamaica now has, the six new confirmed cases represent the highest number of positives officials have had in terms of a batch of tests.

“We did 53 tests, and of the 53, six are positive. All of the six are linked to the quarantined community of Cornpiece in south-east Clarendon. One of the six, a 53-year-old male had travelled with the index case from New York. That index case, a 79-year-old male who was the first to have passed,” Dr Tufton informed.

And Jamaica yesterday recorded its third COVID-19 patient death. The health minister said the third patient is a 41-year-old male from Westmoreland with a travel history from the United Kingdom, who tested positive on March 23. He said the man, who had some underlying conditions and experienced renal failure, passed away yesterday afternoon. Dr Tufton said the cause of death of the second patient who died on Monday was still under investigation. “We are going to reserve final conclusion until those investigations are completed,” the health minister said while expressing condolence to the family members and friends of the deceased.

He said appropriate levels of counselling will be given to the family members and, where needed, to public health staff, “some of whom are also traumatised with each death that they have to encounter”.

And the health minister has commended the Cornpiece community for observing the quarantine requirements.

“...Our team has been on the ground, we have carried out tracing, identified persons, have done a number of tests, and in this instance six have come back positive. We are very happy that we have had the cooperation of the community. It does show the value of the quarantining arrangements which includes communities; the reality is that if we did not carry out those exercises then those individuals would be moving around in their normal courses of activity and having become symptomatic we would see a much greater spread,” he pointed out.

Said Dr Tufton: “We ask communities, to the extent that we need these types of restricted arrangements, that they cooperate with us because there is justification when the clinical team takes such a decision in doing this based on the risk assessment. The reality is [that] the most effective way to control the spread of the virus is for people-to-people contact to be kept at a minimum.”

He, however, said while the Cornpiece experience is an indication of why health officials have had to insist on compliance, and a number of Jamaicans are complying “based on what we have seen and heard, there were also a number of Jamaicans not complying”.

The average age of the confirmed COVID-19 patients is 51 years, ranging from a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 87 years. Twenty-one females and 23 males have been confirmed as having COVID-19 to date. Some 44 people are currently in isolation, while 24 people are under quarantine in a government facility, in addition to the 140 Cuban health professionals who are being quarantined until Tuesday when they will be allowed to engage the public health system.


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