COVID-19 quarantine space identified at St Joseph's Hospital

COVID-19 quarantine space identified at St Joseph's Hospital

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

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FOURTEEN suites have been identified at St Joseph's Hospital in St Andrew and designated as quarantine facilities, in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that has, up to yesterday, resulted into 2,000 deaths in China.

In fact, more than 74,000 people have been infected by the virus in China, with hundreds more in some 25 countries.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton made the disclosure about the number of suites during a tour of the private and semi-private wing of the hospital yesterday.

Tufton, while noting the concerns raised over the last two weeks by residents in nearby communities, said the hospital has responded to many emergencies in the past and has contained many illnesses.

“It really is a good fit given the challenges we face now with coronavirus for a quarantine facility, and what we have here… are 14 rooms, self-contained — meaning bathroom, bedroom — that allow someone who is under quarantine to be placed here for the 14 days and is sufficiently quarantined or by themselves.

“We have the capacity to provide them with adequate amenities, food, etc, and the medical staff to check to see that they are either stable or their condition suggests that a further investigation needs to take place,” Dr Tufton told the media after examining one of the rooms.

He insisted that the quarantine facility is not an isolation centre.

“The quarantine facility is really [for] taking normal persons who are travellers with the travel history and the risk, who have displayed no signs, but because of the risk associated with travelling to the destination we take them in a facility and hold them for a period based on whether or not they continue to be normal or if they deteriorate. Then a decision is taken either to release them into the general population, so that they don't pose a threat to themselves, their families or the communities, or, if there is need for further investigation, based on elevated temperature or other symptoms, they are removed to an isolation facility, which is an elevated state of medical care — and that is at the National Chest Hospital or the University [Hospital] of the West Indies,” he explained.

Noting that the Government has been accused, in the past, of not being proactive, Tufton said it is the ministry's responsibility to plan ahead.

At the same time, the health and wellness minister said he is calling on Jamaicans to be understanding and to cooperate with the ministry.

Notwithstanding the concerns raised by residents recently, Tufton, who spearheaded a town hall meeting last week, said there is no clinical evidence so far to prove that people housed at the quarantine facility will create a risk to surrounding communities.

The minister said, too, that he's currently looking at other facilities, including one in the western section of the island, to establish quarantine areas.

A Ministry of Health and Wellness facility on Shortwood Road has also been designated a quarantine facility.


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