Tufton hurt by COVID-19 negative talk

Tufton hurt by COVID-19 negative talk

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 27, 2020

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HEALTH and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has expressed disappointment and hurt regarding comments from critics who believe the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic is politicking.

“I'm almost emotional about it because it is simply not the case. I've been hearing the comments on radio and in the media space where persons, in some instances who should know better, assert that somehow, having gone to a general election and... being re-elected, somehow, we have hidden information or we have dropped the ball and we are no longer sensitive because we have now been re-elected,” Dr Tufton told the Jamaica Observer in a round-table interview last week.

The health minister said it was painful to hear at this stage in the COVID-19 response, assertions that the Government is uncaring and insensitive to the plight of people who are at risk of suffering from or exposed to COVID-19, particularly as the country deals with the community transmission phase of the virus.

“This is not true, and it is an insult, in my mind, not just to us in Government, but to the thousands of public health players who have, over the last many months since January, really sacrificed themselves in many ways to give protection to the country as part of the COVID-19 response,” he told the Sunday Observer.

“For me as minister, who has sort of been at the heart coordinating, being the liaison between Government, Cabinet, Ministry of Health, other critical stakeholders, the private sector... it is perhaps more painful to me than most because I know what we have done. I know what we continue to do. I know the sacrifices that have been made. I've sat in the hundreds of meetings, thousands of hours of deliberation, the late nights, the early mornings and in truth and in fact Jamaica and Jamaicans are better off because of the tremendous sacrifice this Government has made,” Dr Tufton said.

“This Government has remained and remains committed to the COVID-19 response and now more than ever it is not discussion around who may be playing or who has dropped the ball or who is dropping the ball. But, where there may be shortcomings, if people identify concerns, what we do is discuss them and find solutions to them, because during this phase of the community transmission it requires all hands on deck and requires everyone to be a part of the process,” he said.

Further, Dr Tufton said the COVID-19 response to date has been pursued according to plan, which is to delay the virus, prepare the public health system, train, educate the population and while moving to restore levels of normality, plan and prepare for the expectations that the virus will come in and move through the population.

But, regarding the management of the virus, Dr Tufton made an impassioned plea to Jamaicans to understand that they, too, have a responsibility, which they must exercise alongside the Government's response if the nation is to overcome the pandemic.

“The community transmission phase was always a part of the phase of the virus [but] not many people seem to understand that being in that phase is not an indication of failure. Being in that phase is an indication that we are now in a phase that requires a different response... In this state, it's really about how you manage hospital care and how you minimise deaths,” he said.

Moreover, Dr Tufton said that while 2020 will go down as his most challenging year in Government as it has tested his emotional, physical and mental fortitude, he remains committed to engaging the populace to play their part in spite of the challenges.


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