Tufton, McKenzie announce ramped up COVID surveillance activities amid Golden Age Home outbreak

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Tufton, McKenzie announce ramped up COVID surveillance activities amid Golden Age Home outbreak

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says his ministry along with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will deploy all necessary resources to ensure the best outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Golden Age Home.

It was reported yesterday that a cluster of cases at the facility was uncovered as part of the health ministry's ongoing islandwide surveillance of senior citizens' homes and infirmaries.

Forty three residents and three staff members tested positive for the virus. The cluster was discovered after a resident tested positive.

“On receipt of the COVID-19 results on October 15 it was noted that one of the positive cases was a resident from the Golden Age Home. The resident, age 73, had become symptomatic on October 5. These symptoms included a productive cough and fever. He was subsequently admitted to Kingston Public Hospital and sampled on October 13 and his positive results were received on October 15. Enhanced surveillance was initiated last Saturday, October 17 with testing and contact tracing in the section of the residence where the patient was housed,” Dr Tufton revealed this afternoon.

He was speaking at a press briefing with the local government ministry to address the outbreak.

The minister said the COVID-positive residents are now in isolation while positive staff members are isolated at home.

“The two ministries are doing everything that is necessary to ensure the best possible health outcomes for those affected, both staff and residents," said Tufton.

“The majority of admissions to the homes are [people] 60 years and older, a population we know to be among those most vulnerable for COVID-19, and a large percentage of course with co-morbidities, which makes this population a vulnerable group,” he added.

The minister said that as such, the ministries are doing the following:

  • Fast tracking, with the support of two mobile testing units, the testing of all 428 residents and 162 staff members. The target is to complete testing within two days;
  • Disseminating an alert and engaging stakeholders;
  • Completing outbreak investigations and surveillance activities;
  • Putting into quarantine those individuals who are awaiting results, pending the outcome of those results; and
  • Monitoring closely all residents and staff with symptomatic surveillance and observing a low threshold for escalation of service for care to other facilities including the University Hospital of the West Indies, National Chest Hospital and St Joseph's Hospital.

Dr Tufton noted that the established systems in place at the Golden Age Home have the essential requirements for self-managed resident cohorting until the outbreak is controlled, which he projected to be between 14 and 21 days.

“We're even now putting in place additional required support for optimal monitoring, treatment and transfer capacity of COVID-19 residents who may become critically ill. Effective immediately, there will, among other things, be the following measures, either strengthened or implemented as new measures; Firstly, restricted movement between the various residential areas at the home, strict enforcement of the no-visitor rule, strict adherence to infection prevention and control measures, strict adherence to mask wearing at all times.

“We know that family members at the Golden Age Home, family members of both residents and staff, may have heightened concern and we wish to indicate to them that the Government is providing all the necessary provisions to ensure the best outcome for this outbreak.

“We will deploy resources to include a visit by a medical doctor or medical doctors on a daily basis to the facility and any other clinical support necessary to include equipment and pharmaceuticals to ensure the safety and well-being of both staff and residents,” the minister said.


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