New norm envisions a life with COVID-19 – health minister

New norm envisions a life with COVID-19 – health minister

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton says the new norm envisions a life with coronavirus (COVID-19).

The minister was speaking this morning during a sitting of the COVID-19 committee, which was conducted digitally.

“I am prepared to say, even at the risk of even being controversial, that the new norm which we must now move towards should envision a life with COVID-19, not without COVID-19.

“It is unlikely that we are going to get rid of COVID-19 anytime soon…certainly until modern medicine catches up whether through a vaccine or otherwise.

“So it is really how do we manage the response and how do we mitigate against the risk in a way that minimises death, minimises downtime and minimises the spread of the virus,” Dr Tufton said.

In his presentation to the committee, which included Members of Parliament from both sides and representatives of the ministry, Dr Tufton said that the country must seek to take a deeper look into the data provided by the ministry.

“Now, for the most part, people tend to focus on how many more positive cases are reported each day and there is a sense that the success in coping with the virus is only determined by less positive cases.

“Data, for example, around deaths, the truth is, we have done well. The current death rate from COVID-19 is 1.7 per cent, which by benchmark international standards is not bad.

“As to being asymptomatic and symptomatic, the truth is, we have no one in ICU now or in high dependency units. All those who are positive, none of them are critical right now.

“And that is important because what it means is that we can overcome COVID, it is just to put certain mechanisms in place and the hospital system as of now is not under stress.

“This is not to say that we must be complacent but it does give an indication of how we are managing the process but beyond that, we should also dissect the numbers to determine the extent of the vulnerabilities …the vulnerable groups and, that is, where I think we need to focus and we are going to spend some time looking at this.

“We have to define what that vulnerability means and we have to devise a tracking mechanism to track down vulnerable people,” Dr Tufton said.

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