• New approach to managing pandemic as Jamaica records 3,511 cases, 40 deathsFriday, September 11, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
THE Ministry of Health and Wellness is to start releasing the daily COVID-19 numbers via its website at 10:00 am each day, beginning this morning, as it moves into a new phase of its management of the pandemic.
In fact, it also has plans to, within the next two weeks, establish a field hospital in the Corporate Area, and two other such facilities in central and western Jamaica shortly thereafter.
In his weekly COVID Conversation yesterday, recently reappointed Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said, with the island now into the community transmission phase of the virus, the Government is moving towards getting Jamaicans to live with the pandemic.
According to Tufton, his weekly briefings will now focus on measures to provide Jamaicans with information to overcome the virus, over time, rather than its usual spotlight on the number of cases.
He pointed to the World Health Organization, which has noted that with community transmission countries have to shift their resources to monitoring the spread and characteristics of the novel coronavirus, identifying and managing severe cases, preventing onward transmission, alleviating strains on health care services, informing the public, and reducing overall social and economic impact.
“It is a shift that necessitates a number of operational changes, including the effort to ensure our health facilities are sufficiently equipped for a surge in cases, while also increasing the complement of the health team,” said Tufton.
“The operational changes include the way in which at least some of our communications is handled, as we seek to ensure that members of the public are provided with timely information for sound decision-making,” added Tufton.
The health minister said the weekly press conferences will continue to provide members of the media with the chance to get behind the numbers while giving the public a better understanding of what they need to do to keep themselves safe while slowing transmission.
“We will also take stock of changing measures put in place to enable COVID coping in the different settings — home, school and workplace. This is in addition to looking at new approaches to testing and the evolving COVID-19 research agenda of the ministry.
“While we will continue to share infection, prevention and control messages — from the need to wear masks to hand washing, sanitising and adhering to quarantine — members of the public can also expect to hear more stories of persons who have been impacted by COVID-19.
“This will include a look at people living with or who have recovered, and the stories of persons who provide care to the most vulnerable. You can also expect to see the enhanced focus on targeted community interventions.
“More than at any other time in our COVID-19 experience, it is now essential to deepen the effort to build community resilience to COVID-19. We want to ensure that community stakeholders understand what they are up against and that they are sufficiently empowered to respond, including through the training of community leaders and/or influencers,” declared Tufton.
He said while the health ministry has done significant communication work for the national audience, it is now keen on ensuring that the information shared at the national level is appropriately received at the level of communities, whose members need to act in their own public health interest.
In the meantime, Tufton announced that the field hospital in the Corporate Area, which is being established through assistance from an international partner that he did not name, should provide the country with 80 more beds.
In looking at the latest COVID-19 numbers, Tufton said the island recorded 74 new cases yesterday, moving the total positive cases to date to 3,511, with two more deaths — taking that number to 40.
Of the 74 new cases, 40 are female and 34 male.
The health minister further noted that 30 per cent of the individuals who have tested positive have recovered, while 26 people remain moderately ill and eight are critically ill.
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